May Lawyer Send Legal Correspondence to Treating Physician During Trial ?
In Nastasi v. United Mine Workers of America Union Hospital, 209 Ill. App. 3d 830, 838-39, 567 N.E.2d 1358, 153 Ill. Dec. 900 (1991), defense counsel had, inter alia, sent correspondence to a treating physician of the plaintiff which set forth the parties' respective positions in the lawsuit and included copies of depositions of other physicians in the case.
The Nastasi court held that these communications were violations of Petrillo. Nastasi, 209 Ill. App. 3d at 839.
In making this determination, the Nastasi court stated:
"We believe that these communications plainly violate the rule of Petrillo and its progeny.
Although there was no evidence that plaintiff's treating physicians actually disclosed any of plaintiff's confidences or breached their fiduciary duty to him, such evidence was not required.
What matters is the potential harm to the physician-patient relationship. (Mondelli v. Checker Taxi Co., (1990) 197 Ill. App. 3d 258, 265, 554 N.E.2d 266, 272, 143 Ill. Dec. 331.)
The Nastasi court went on to state:
"Unlike the situation in Mahan v. Louisville & Nashville R.R. Co. (1990), 203 Ill. App. 3d 748, 561 N.E.2d 127, 148 Ill. Dec. 821, this case did not involve some de minimis conversation regarding incidental matters preliminary to a deposition.
What defendant's counsel was clearly attempting to do here is to use the medical testimony they had obtained on behalf of their client to influence or alter the opinions held by plaintiff's treating physicians." Nastasi, 209 Ill. App. 3d at 840.