Illinois Courts Bar Retained Medical Experts Who Work at Same Medical Entity as Treating Physician

In the recent Illinois Appellate Court decision of McChristian v. Brink, it was held that the defendant’s attorney, representing a podiatrist and the podiatry clinic, was not prohibited from calling a controlled expert (Ill. S. Ct. Rule 213 (f)(3)) podiatrist to testify at trial when this expert was also one of the injured plaintiff’s treating podiatrists and a member of defendant’s podiatry clinic.

This court held that the Petrillo doctrine does not preclude ex parte communications with individuals who serve as the “corporate heads and are the decision makers of the defendant corporation.” Petrillo v. Syntex Laboratories, Inc., 148 Ill. App. 3d 581, 601 (1st Dist. 1986). The Petrillo decision and the many cases following that basic principle is that defense attorneys are not allowed to retain an expert who works for the same professional organization where the plaintiff received medical care.

In the McChristian case, the court ruled that the defendant medical group and doctor could utilize an expert witness at trial who worked for the same clinic as the defendant. Recent cases have expanded the Petrillo decision stating that a treating physician’s status can now be imputed to expert witnesses in the same professional association, even if they practice in different fields of medicine.

In the Mondelli v. Checker Taxi Co. case (197 Ill. App. 3d 258 (1st Dist 1990), the defendant Checker Taxi retained an expert radiologist to review the x-rays of the two sisters who were injured in the crash. A neurologist conducted two consultations and was not an attending physician at the hospital where the sisters were treated. The radiologist expert and the neurologist were employees of the same medical practice. Because of the connection between the two doctors, the plaintiffs moved to bar the defense radiology expert based on Petrillo.

On appeal the Illinois Appellate Court agreed with the trial judge who barred the defense expert holding that the treating neurologist’s physician-patient status was imputed to the radiology expert since they were both employees of the same professional association.

It is clear now that even if a plaintiff’s treating doctor practices in a different area of medicine than the defendant’s retained medical expert but is employed by the same professional organization, the court may still bar the defendant’s expert from testifying at trial.

McChristian v. Brink, 2016 IL App (1st) 152674

Kreisman Law Offices has been successfully handling medical negligence lawsuits, birth trauma injury cases and nursing home abuse and negligent cases for individuals and families who have been injured, harmed or died as a result of the negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas including West Dundee, Glendale Heights, Evergreen Park, Glenview, River Forest, Des Plaines, Prospect Heights, Palos Heights, Oak Forest, Park Ridge, Clarendon Hills, Oakbrook Terrace, Oak Brook, Burr Ridge and Elmhurst, Ill.

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