Qualified Chicago personal injury lawyers often engage in years of discovery before a case is settled or goes to trial. One of the most important tools of discovery available to personal injury attorneys in Illinois are requests for the admission of facts (“requests to admit”). Illinois Supreme Court Rule 216.
This is especially true after Szczeblewski v. Gossett, 342 Ill. App. 3d 344 (5th Dist. 2003), in which the Illinois appellate court strengthened the force of requests to admit. Szczeblewski involved a personal injury action arising out of a rear-end collision.
Plaintiffs filed requests to admit pertaining to medical services and bills. Specifically, plaintiffs requested the defendant to admit that “the attached bill . . . represents charges for services which were reasonable and necessary treatment . . . as a result of the [collision]” and also that “the charges on the attached bill . . . are fair and reasonable charges for the services performed.”
In response to the requests to admit, the defendnat stated that he “can neither admit or deny . . . in that it requires him to give a medical opinion which he is not qualified to do.” Plaintiff moved to compel answers to the requests.
The appellate court noted that the Supreme Court in P.R.S. Int’l, Inc. v. Shred Pax Corp., 184 Ill. 2d 224 (1998) held that Rule 216 allows requests for the admission of “any specified relevant fact.” Therefore, the “key question is whether a requested admission deals with a question of fact.”
Therefore, the Szczeblewski court first held that a “defendant’s conduct as the cause of the occurrence, the necessity and reasonableness of the medical services a plaintiff received to treat his or her injuries, and the reasonable cost of the medical services received are all facts that are proper subjects for a Rule 216 request to admit.” 342 Ill. App. 3d at 348.
Furthermore, the court noted that the “purpose” of a request to admit is “not to discover facts but, rather, to establish some of the material facts in a case without the necessity of formal proof at trial.” Therefore, the court held that a party must “make a reasonable effort to secure answers to requests to admit from persons and documents within the responding party’s control . . . [including] the defendant’s attorney and insurance company investigators or representatives.”