Can the Confidentiality Act Be Used to Prevent Disclosure of Otherwise Admissible Evidence ?
In D.C. v. S.A., 178 Ill. 2d 551, 227 Ill. Dec. 550, 687 N.E.2d 1032 (1997) the plaintiff sued the defendants for negligence after one of the defendants drove into him as he crossed the street.
The defendants sought to compel the disclosure of some of the plaintiff's mental health records in order to prove that, at the time of the accident, plaintiff might have been attempting suicide; proof of that fact might absolve them from liability by showing that the plaintiff was not exercising due care for his own safety.
The supreme court ruled that the privilege had to yield even though no statutory exception applied.
Crucial to the court's narrow ruling was that the party claiming the privilege was the one who had brought the suit.
He was not merely defending himself against an action to which he had been subjected.
The plaintiff could not rightly use the protections of the Confidentiality Act "as a sword rather than a shield" to prevent the disclosure of otherwise admissible evidence that might fully negate the claim he had asserted against the defendants. D.C., 178 Ill. 2d at 570; see also Mandziara, 299 Ill. App. 3d at 600.