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Illinois Jail Detainee's Death Related Medical Documents Ordered Disclosed

Abdelkadir Belbachir brought federal and state action against McHenry County (Illinois) in 2006 after his cousin, Hassiba Belbachir, died in the county jail. He motioned to compel documents declared exempt under the peer review privilege (privilege) of the State Medical Studies Act (MSA). The disclosure was ordered.

Hassiba Belbachir was arrested by immigration officials and taken to the McHenry County Jail who contracted housing their detainees. In transit and upon arrival at the jail she suffered from anxiety, depression, nausea and thoughts of suicide. Eight days later she was found dead in a cell with socks tied together and knotted around her throat. Abdelkadir brought various § 1983 and state actions against the county and others. One defendant, Centegra Health Systems, refused to produce documents in it's privilege log claiming exemption under the MSA privilege. The plaintiff motioned to compel the document's release.

The U.S. District Court for the Northwestern District of Illinois held that the state privilege was "not favored" by most federal courts and that "the need for truth in rooting out unconstitutional state action" required the document's disclosure after an in camera inspection was held. See: Belbachir v. County of McHenry, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53727.

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Related legal case

Belbachir v. County of McHenry