Fifth District concludes doctor's testimony should be barred in elevator injury suit

By John Sammon | Jan 16, 2019

MT. VERNON – The Fifth District Appellate Court denied testimony of an examining doctor because a patient's medical report was not delivered in a timely manner in the case alleging a woman was hurt on an elevator in an East Alton township building. 

“The plain language of the rule mandates the enforcement of a specific penalty for failing to furnish the report of the examiner within the time specified,” the opinion stated.

Plaintiff Linda Batson filed a complaint in the Madison County Circuit Court alleging she was injured on Sept. 6, 2011 while riding an elevator in a building owned by the East Alton Township Village Associates, Sugar Creek Reality LLP and Shindler Elevator Corp.

The elevator reportedly dropped rapidly from the sixth floor of the apartment complex coming to a sudden stop between the first and second floors, injuring Batson. She alleged the defendants failed to properly maintain the elevator and continued its use by the public knowing it was unsafe.

Schindler was responsible for maintenance of the elevator.

The defendants asked the circuit court to order the plaintiff to submit  to a chosen physician, Dr. Mitchell Rotman. The court granted the  motion.

In August 2016 Rotman examined the plaintiff and faxed a copy of the report to the defendant’s attorney but not the plaintiff’s counsel. Attorneys for the plaintiff at a hearing in September said they had not received a copy of the medical report within 21 days of the exam as required by Illinois Supreme Court Rule 215.

The plaintiff’s attorneys said they had scheduled a video deposition of Dr. Steven Baak to take place within seven days after the 21-day time limit so they would have the report prior to the deposition.

The defendants acknowledged their attorney had received a copy of the Rotman report but their counsel was not made aware the report had not been sent to the plaintiff’s counsel.

The plaintiff moved to bar the trial testimony of Rotman because neither the physician nor the defendants provided a copy of the medical report to the plaintiff’s counsel within the time required under Rule 215.

In January 2017 the circuit court issued a written order denying the plaintiff’s motion to bar Rotman’s testimony. In September the plaintiff asked for a reconsideration. The circuit court still refused to block Rodman’s testimony, but granted the plaintiff’s request for a certified question to interpret the intent of Rule 215.

The appellate court granted the plaintiff an “interlocutory appeal" to consider the certified question. 

The appellate court's opinion states that the first sentence of Rule 215 clearly states that there is a 21-day requirement to deliver a medical report to the plaintiff's attorney. If the report is not delivered in that time, the remedy is to prohibit the party who requested the examination from offering the examiner’s testimony at trial.

“Clear language of the Rule makes the furnishing of the report mandatory,” the opinion states.

The appellate court also concluded that no modifications or extensions by the circuit court had altered the 21-day requirement.  

“Supreme Court Rules are not mere suggestions; they have the force of law,” the opinion stated.

The appellate court determined the failure to deliver a copy of the medical examiner’s report in the required 21 days would result in the exclusion of the examiner’s testimony, opinions and X-rays except at the instance of the party examined.

The defendants are represented by Knapp, Ohl & Green in Edwardsville. 

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Illinois Fifth District Appellate Court Madison County Circuit Court

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