During discovery in a negligence case, State Farm Insurance Co. retained outside counsel to defend Allison Rancour. In this Kane County case, the attorneys named Drs. Benjamin Goldberg and Michael Musacchio as controlled experts. The plaintiff requested a list of the amounts paid to each of the doctors in every case where they were hired by State Farm and the group of State Farm employees that practiced law in Chicago known as Bruce Farrel Dorn & Associates.
The defendant refused to comply and the court sanctioned the defendant and attorneys $25 a day for failing to comply. The attorney for the defendant and State Farm argued that the judge erred in commanding discovery from non-parties that had not been subpoenaed. And because neither the attorneys nor outside counsel hired by State Farm nor its client were employees of State Farm, the law firm claimed they could not be compelled to provide information possessed by State Farm.
The appellate court affirmed the discovery order but reversed the sanction because the outside firm used a “friendly contempt” for immediate review, thus the appellate court explained that there was no need to subpoena State Farm or the Bruce Farrel Dorn & Associates law firm because the discovery order was aimed at Rancour and the outside law firm. The decision of the appellate court was based on Szczeblewski v. Gossett, 342 Ill. App. 3d 344 (2003), and Oelze v. Score Sports Venture, 401 Ill. App. 3d 110 (2010) for the Second District. The court concluded that “the court correctly applied existing case law, which holds that a party has reasonable control over the documents possessed by her insurer.”