Therapists keep their own records of patient sessions.
That provides a level of privacy for the client.
But that privacy also creates a hurdle for clients who feel they have been abused and seek justice in civil court.
The problem is state law requires a medical expert to sign off on malpractice lawsuits as a tool for ensuring courts aren’t flooded with frivolous claims.
The expert uses medical records to make that judgment. When the wrong limb is amputated, the decision is apparent, but when it becomes a he said/she said case, things get fuzzier.
Two former patients of Letitia Libman, a former psychiatrist with Delnor-Community Hospital, jumped that hurdle on the second try with a court ruling Thursday.
Kane County Judge F. Keith Brown ruled even though there are no separate medical records backing up the allegations by Kenneth Sutter and Deanna Whetstine, he would allow their cases to go forward.
He accepted a medical expert’s opinion the lawsuits are meritorious because although the medical records show no wrongdoing, if the allegations are true, a malpractice would have occurred. Brown had previously ruled the lawsuits didn’t pass the expert test.
However, Brown still hasn’t guaranteed the lawsuits won’t be dismissed.
He ruled the cases won’t go any further if the patients can’t prove Libman’s therapy caused the failed marriages, emotional instability and, in one case, an attempted suicide, alleged in the lawsuits.
“I am sure I will be able to provide what he wants,” said Richard Stavins, who represents four former patients in four separate lawsuits.
Libman has contended she tried to help the patients and any problems they encountered likely were caused by their disorders. Most were being treated for depression and anxiety.
The four lawsuits spell out allegations that fall into two categories: witchcraft and sexual misconduct. The improprieties are said to have occurred in Libman’s St. Charles home and on the Delnor health care campus off Route 25 in St. Charles between 2001 and January 2005.
Libman and Delnor have denied any wrongdoing.