At first glance, it doesn’t seem out of line for a trucking company to seek medical records in a case where its tractor-trailer allegedly caused a fatal collision. And, in fact, the Illinois federal district court initially issued the subpoena. But on March 11 the same court quashed the subpoena.
Why? Because the trucking company wasn’t seeking the records of Amber, the woman who died in the collision, but of Catherine, Amber’s mother, who sued as administrator of Amber’s estate. What’s more, the medical records at issue included Catherine’s mental health records.
In granting Catherine’s motion to quash, the court showed little patience for the trucking company’s argument that Catherine had put her own mental health at issue by alleging pain and suffering or that the records were relevant in determining her life expectancy, and therefore how long she would suffer from losing her daughter.
The take-away? Like most jurisdictions, Illinois strictly protects health records—especially mental health records—and a person does not waive those protections merely by alleging pain and suffering from the loss of a child. Ashley v. Schneider National Carriers, No. 12 CV 8309 (N.D. Ill. 2014).