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Posted in Law on November 1, 2016   |  by Gary Burger

Discoverability of Personnel Files in Illinois and Missouri

When you have Defendants or witnesses involved in a work related injury, and their personnel files could reveal valuable information which is pertinent to your case, it is important to know whether you can discover the files or not. Here is the law in Illinois and Missouri:

In the State of Illinois, personnel files that are relevant to a claim are typically discoverable. See Sloan v. Jasper County Community Unit School Dist. No. 1, 522 N.E.2d 334, 167 Ill.App.3d 867, 118 Ill.Dec. 879 (Ill.App. 5 Dist., 1988). However, the court may issue a protective order that secures confidential information from dissemination to the general public. See id at 335. In this case, the personnel files are necessary to assess the negligence of the co employees and to assess plaintiff’s negligent hiring and retention claims. For example, if the co-workers are repeatedly written up for the same conduct that injured plaintiff, and not adequately counseled, disciplined, trained or fired, then this is key liability evidence in this case. Personnel files of tortfeasors are routinely produced in these types of cases. If there are any concerns regarding employee privacy, plaintiff can agree to be bound by a confidentiality order.

In Missouri, relevant personnel files are discoverable, but any discovery that is permitted of confidential personnel records must be "limited to information that relates to matters put at issue in the pleadings, especially in relation to sensitive personal information." State ex rel. Madlock v. O'Malley, 8 S.W.3d 890, 891 (Mo. banc 1999); see also State ex rel. Crowden, 970 S.W.2d at 343 ("subpoena for employment records must be limited to the issue raised in the pleadings.").