Best v. Taylor Machine Works, Inc.

                Docket Nos. 81890, 81891, 81892, 81893 cons.--Agenda
                        18--May 1997.
           VERNON BEST, Appellee, v. TAYLOR MACHINE WORKS
           et al., Appellants.--JONATHAN ISBELL, Administrator of
           the Estate of Steven A. Kelso, Appellee, v. UNION PACIFIC
             RAILROAD COMPANY et al., Appellants.
               Opinion filed December 18, 1997.
                                   JUSTICE McMORROW delivered the opinion of the court:
             This consolidated appeal arises from two personal injury
           tort actions filed in the circuit court of Madison County, in
           which the plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief
           against enforcement of "An Act to amend certain Acts in
           relation to civil actions, *** the Civil Justice Reform
           Amendments of 1995." Pub. Act 89--7, eff. March 9, 1995
           (hereafter Public Act 89--7 or the Act). In both cases, plaintiffs
           sought partial summary judgment on the grounds that the Act
           violated the Illinois Constitution of 1970. The circuit court of
           Madison County held the following provisions of Public Act 89-
           -7 unconstitutional: (1) the $500,000 limit on compensatory
           damages for noneconomic injuries (735 ILCS 5/2--1115.1 (West
           1996)), (2) the allocation of fault and several liability provisions
           (735 ILCS 5/2--1116, 2--1117 (West 1996)), (3) the
           amendments to the Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act (740 ILCS
           100/3.5, 5 (West 1996)), (4) certain jury instructions (735 ILCS
           5/2--1107.1 (West 1996)), (5) the product liability certificate of
           merit (735 ILCS 5/2--623 (West 1996)), (6) the product liability
           statute of repose (735 ILCS 5/13--213(b) (West 1996)), (7) the
           product liability presumptions (735 ILCS 5/2--2103, 2--2104, 2--
           2106 (West 1996)) and (8) the discovery statutes which require
           mandatory disclosure of all of plaintiffs' medical information
           and records (735 ILCS 5/2--1003, 8--802, 8--2001, 8--2003
           (West 1996)). The court also held that Public Act 89--7 is
           unconstitutional as a whole.
             Defendants timely appealed the circuit court's order to this
           court, and we consolidated the cases. We allowed the Attorney
           General, James E. Ryan, to intervene to defend the
           constitutionality of Public Act 89--7.
             We also granted the following organizations leave to submit
           briefs amicus curiae: (1) Illinois Hospital & Healthsystems
           Association and the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council,
           (2) Illinois State Medical Society, (3) Product Liability Advisory
           Council, Inc., (4) Illinois Manufacturers' Association, (5) Illinois
           Association of Defense Trial Counsel, (6) Illinois Civil Justice
           League, (7) Illinois State Federation of Labor and Congress of
           Industrial Organization and Ironworker's District Council of
           Greater Chicago, (8) Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens,
           Families Advocating Injury Reduction (FAIR), Union of
           Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE),
           Coalition for Consumer Rights, Citizen Action/Illinois Chapter,
           Metro Seniors in Action, Tenth Congressional District AFL-
           CIO, Champaign County Health Care Consumers, Citizen
           Advocacy Center and Coalition of Citizens With Disabilities in
           Illinois, (9) Illinois State Bar Association, (10) National
           Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the
           Cook County Bar Association, (11) Illinois NOW Legal and
           Education Fund and Breast Implant Information Exchange, (12)
           Chicago Bar Association and (13) the Brotherhood of Heat and
           Frost Insulators, Local 17, and the Southeast Environmental
           Task Force.
             The parties agree that Public Act 89--7 effects substantial
           changes to numerous aspects of tort law. The parties further
           agree that the challenged provisions of Public Act 89--7 pertain
           primarily to personal injury actions as distinct from business-
           related torts, defamation, or other actions not involving physical
           injury. There is also no dispute that the heart of Public Act 89--
           7 is the $500,000 limit on compensatory damages for injuries
           that are considered "non-economic" in nature (735 ILCS 5/2--
           1115.1 (West 1996)).
             Defendants characterize the Act as a legitimate reform
           measure that is within the scope of the Illinois General
           Assembly's power to change the common law, shape public
           policy, and regulate the state's economic health. Plaintiffs
           counter that the Act uses the guise of reform to erect arbitrary
           and irrational barriers to meritorious claims, and, therefore, that
           the Act violates the Illinois Constitution of 1970. Specifically,
           plaintiffs maintain that the following constitutional provisions
           are violated by various aspects of the legislation at issue: special
           legislation (Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV, sec. 13), equal protection
           and due process (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, sec. 2), separation of
           powers (Ill. Const. 1970, art. II, sec. 1), right to a jury (Ill.
           Const. 1970, art. I, sec. 13) and right to a certain remedy (Ill.
           Const. 1970, art. I, sec. 12).
             The role of this court in considering the constitutionality of
           Public Act 89--7 is not to judge the prudence of the General
           Assembly's decision that reform of the civil justice system is
           needed. We recognize that we should not and need not balance
           the advantages and disadvantages of reform. See People v.
           Warren, 173 Ill. 2d 348 (1996); see also Cutinello v. Whitley,
           161 Ill. 2d 409 (1994). Rather, as the highest court in this state,
           we must determine the meaning and effect of the Illinois
           Constitution in light of the challenges made to the legislation in
           issue. Warren, 173 Ill. 2d at 355-56.
             Courts should begin any constitutional analysis with the
           presumption that the challenged legislation is constitutional
           (People v. Shephard, 152 Ill. 2d 489 (1992)), and it is the
           plaintiff's burden to clearly establish that the challenged
           provisions are unconstitutional (Bernier v. Burris, 113 Ill. 2d
           219 (1986)). However, the Illinois Constitution is not a grant,
           but a limitation on legislative power. People v. Chicago Transit
           Authority, 392 Ill. 77 (1945); Italia America Shipping Corp. v.
           Nelson, 323 Ill. 427 (1926); Taylorville Sanitary District v.
           Winslow, 317 Ill. 25 (1925). It is this court's duty to interpret
           the law and to protect the rights of individuals against acts
           beyond the scope of the legislative power. People ex rel.
           Huempfner v. Benson, 294 Ill. 236 (1920). If a statute is
           unconstitutional, this court is obligated to declare it invalid.
           Wilson v. Department of Revenue, 169 Ill. 2d 306 (1996). This
           duty cannot be evaded or neglected, no matter how desirable or
           beneficial the legislation may appear to be. Wilson, 169 Ill. 2d
           at 310; Grasse v. Dealer's Transport Co., 412 Ill. 179, 190
           (1952).
             For the reasons stated below, we determine that the
           following provisions of Public Act 89--7 violate the Illinois
           Constitution: (1) the limitation on compensatory damages for
           noneconomic injury (735 ILCS 5/2--1115.1 (West 1996)), (2)
           section 3.5(a) of the Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act (740
           ILCS 100/3.5(a) (West 1996)), (3) the abolition of joint and
           several liability (735 ILCS 5/2--1117 (West 1996)), and (4) the
           discovery statutes which mandate the unlimited disclosure of
           plaintiffs' medical information and records (735 ILCS 5/2--
           1003, 8--802, 8--2001, 8--2003 (West 1996)). We further hold
           that because these unconstitutional provisions may not be
           severed from the remainder of the act, Public Act 89--7 as a
           whole is invalid.
           
                     BACKGROUND
             Plaintiff, Vernon Best, was injured on July 24, 1995, while
           he was operating a forklift for his employer, Laclede Steel
           Company, in Alton, Illinois. The forklift was designed and
           manufactured by Taylor Machine Works (Taylor) and sold by
           Allied Industrial Equipment Corporation (Allied). Best sustained
           injuries when the forklift's mast and support assembly collapsed
           while Best was moving slabs of hot steel. As a result of the
           collapse, flammable hydraulic fluid manufactured by Lee Helms,
           Inc. (Helms), ignited and engulfed Best in a fireball. While on
           fire, Best leaped from the cab of the forklift and fractured both
           heels. Best also suffered second and third degree burns over
           40% of his body, including his face, torso, arms and hands.
             Best filed a product liability action seeking damages against
           Taylor, Allied and Helms. In his amended complaint, Best
           alleges that the forklift and hydraulic fluid were defective and
           not reasonably safe. As to Taylor and Allied, Best alleges strict
           product liability, negligence, breaches of implied and express
           warranties, and breach of warranty for a particular purpose. As
           to Helms, Best alleges strict product liability, negligence and
           breach of implied warranty.
             Best alleges that he sustained lost earnings, he anticipates
           diminished future earnings, he has incurred past medical
           expenses, and he will incur future medical expenses as a result
           of his injuries. Best anticipates that he will need vocational
           rehabilitation and convalescent care because of his injuries. He
           further alleges that his injuries are severe, disfiguring and
           permanent. Best states that he has suffered and will continue to
           suffer from grievous pain and anguish from his injuries. He
           further asserts that he has had a painful and lengthy experience
           as a patient in a hospital burn unit, and has undergone numerous
           surgeries.
             In his amended complaint, Best seeks compensatory
           damages for all injuries. Best alleges that he has and will incur
           noneconomic damages in excess of $500,000. He also seeks
           declaratory and injunctive relief against Public Act 89--7 on the
           grounds that the Act violates the Illinois Constitution.
             The second action arises out of the death of 20-year-old
           Steven Kelso, who was killed by a train at a railroad crossing
           in Madison County, Illinois, on December 12, 1995. At the time
           of his death, Kelso was driving a truck for his employer. Union
           Pacific owned the train that killed Kelso, and Donald Cain
           operated the train at the time of Kelso's death.
             Plaintiff Jonathan Isbell, the administrator of Kelso's estate,
           filed a complaint against Union Pacific and Cain. In the
           complaint, Isbell alleges that the train that killed Kelso was
           negligently operated. He states that the train's speed was
           excessive, it did not adequately warn of its approach, and it
           failed to slow or stop before the crash. The complaint also
           alleges that the railroad crossing was negligently constructed,
           inspected, and maintained, with inadequate warning signals and
           other deficiencies. Isbell seeks damages under the Wrongful
           Death Act (740 ILCS 180/1 (West 1996)), the Probate Act of
           1975 (755 ILCS 5/27--6 (West 1996)) and the Rights of Married
           Persons Act (750 ILCS 65/15 (West 1996)). Like Best, Isbell
           also seeks declaratory and injunctive relief challenging the
           constitutionality of Public Act 89--7.
             In the circuit court, defendants in both actions moved to
           dismiss the counts for declaratory and injunctive relief, on the
           grounds that the constitutionality of Public Act 89--7 was not
           ripe for adjudication. Both plaintiffs filed motions for partial
           summary judgment on those counts, and entreated the circuit
           court to invalidate Public Act 89--7. Plaintiffs filed expert
           opinion affidavits in support of their partial motions for
           summary judgment. Defendants did not file counteraffidavits.
             Upon consolidating the cases, the circuit court denied
           defendants' motions to dismiss, and granted plaintiffs' motions
           for partial summary judgment. The circuit court ruled that 15
           specific provisions of Public Act 89--7 were unconstitutional
           and that the Act as a whole was unconstitutional. The court
           noted that the Act overruled more than 70 decisions of this court
           and the appellate court, and constituted a "wholesale
           reconstruction of the judiciary." Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule
           302(a) (134 Ill. 2d R. 302(a)), defendants appealed directly to
           this court from the circuit court's order declaring Public Act 89-
           -7 invalid.
           
                      ANALYSIS
             Initially, we note that in striking down Public Act 89--7, the
           circuit court referenced the "demeanor" of the legislature during
           consideration of the Act, as shown by the legislative history.
           The history of Public Act 89--7 shows that the Act was initially
           introduced in the House of Representative as House Bill 20, on
           November 30, 1994. See generally 25 ILCS 25/2 (West 1994).
           The legislative synopsis indicates that Public Act 89--7 made "a
           technical change in a provision relating to product liability
           actions." House Bill 20 consisted of a suggestion that the word
           "any" be changed to "a" in the first sentence of section 2--621
           of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2--621 (West
           1992)).
             More than two months later, on February 14, 1995, House
           Bill 20 was released to members of the House as "amended."
           The amendment to House Bill 20 consisted of 67 pages of text,
           and mirrors the currently enacted provisions of Public Act 89--7
           now before this court. On February 15, 1995, the House
           Executive Committee held a meeting to consider House Bill 20,
           and approved it without change. The day following committee
           approval, House Bill 20 was presented to the full House of
           Representatives. A majority of the House voted in favor of
           House Bill 20.
             Two weeks later, the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee
           held a two-day hearing to consider House Bill 20, and voted to
           adopt it without change. The bill went to the Senate, where it
           received the votes necessary for adoption. On March 9, 1995,
           House Bill 20 was signed into law as Public Act 89--7.
             Before the circuit court, plaintiffs argued, and the court
           agreed, that the "fast track" stratagem adopted by the bill's
           proponents was designed to curtail deliberation of the bill.
           Defendants agree that the passage of Public Act 89--7 was swift
           and drew significant objections on the grounds that adequate
           time for debate was lacking. However, defendants contend that
           this fact is not relevant to the determination of the constitutional
           issues before this court. Because the manner in which Public
           Act 89--7 was passed is not dispositive of the merits of the
           constitutional challenges raised by plaintiffs, we do not further
           consider its genesis. We note, however, that the legislative
           history of Public Act 89--7 may be considered in ascertaining
           the intent of the legislature if the resolution of an issue so
           requires. See, e.g., People ex rel. Chicago Bar Ass'n v. State
           Board of Elections, 136 Ill. 2d 513, 537 (1990) (legislative
           history is relevant to severability analysis).
           
                     I. Ripeness
             In the circuit court, pursuant to section 2--615 of the Code
           of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2--615 (West 1992)), defendants
           moved to dismiss plaintiffs' counts for injunctive and
           declaratory relief on the grounds that they were not ripe for
           adjudication. The circuit court rejected defendants' arguments
           and determined that plaintiffs had standing and that the issues
           were ripe.
             Before this court, defendants maintain that the majority of
           the circuit court's rulings do not involve an actual case or
           controversy, which is required to sustain an action for
           declaratory judgment. They argue that the underlying facts and
           issues in this case are so premature as to require the court to
           pass judgment on mere abstract propositions of law, or render
           an advisory opinion.
             The question of ripeness requires a determination with
           respect to whether there is a case or controversy under section
           2--701 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2--701
           (West 1992)). A complaint for declaratory judgment must recite
           in sufficient detail an actual and legal controversy between the
           parties and must demonstrate that the plaintiff is interested in
           the controversy. First of America Bank, Rockford, N.A. v.
           Netsch, 166 Ill. 2d 165 (1995) (declaratory judgment actions
           permit early resolution of dispositive issues, to fix rights of
           parties before irrevocable change in their positions jeopardizes
           their claims of right); see also Illinois Gamefowl Breeders Ass'n
           v. Block, 75 Ill. 2d 443 (1979). This court has repeatedly held
           that the declaratory judgment statute must be liberally construed
           and should not be restricted by unduly technical interpretations.
           See, e.g., Netsch, 166 Ill. 2d at 174.
             We believe that plaintiffs' complaint challenging the
           constitutionality of Public Act 89--7 portends "the ripening seeds
           of litigation." Miles Kimball Co. v. Anderson, 128 Ill. App. 3d
           805, 807 (1984). For example, plaintiff Best asserts a product
           liability claim to recover compensatory damages for bodily
           injuries allegedly sustained at the hands of defendants Allied,
           Taylor, and Helms. Best alleges that his compensatory damages
           for noneconomic injuries will exceed $500,000. Public Act 89--
           7, inter alia, limits such damages to $500,000 in all negligence
           and product liability actions brought on account of death, bodily
           injury, or physical damage to property. See 735 ILCS 5/2--
           1115.1 (West 1996). The limitation applies irrespective of
           whether the court or jury otherwise would have found a larger
           amount to be appropriate under the facts of the particular case.
             We believe that plaintiffs have alleged a sufficient and
           direct interest in the application of the challenged provisions of
           Public Act 89--7 to their lawsuits. In deciding the
           constitutionality of Public Act 89--7 we are not ruling on mere
           abstract principles of law or prematurely deciding issues in the
           absence of an actual case or controversy. The course of future
           litigation in these consolidated cases necessarily will be
           controlled by resolution of the constitutional challenges to
           Public Act 89--7. We hold that the issues presented in the
           instant controversy are ripe for review.
           
           II. The Cap on Noneconomic Damages
             Plaintiffs challenge the $500,000 limit on compensatory
           damages for noneconomic injuries set forth in section 2--1115.1
           of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2--1115.1 (West
           1996)).
           
           
           A. Background to Section 2--1115.1
            Section 2--1115.1(a) provides:
                      "In all common law, statutory or other actions that
                          seek damages on account of death, bodily injury, or
                          physical damage to property based on negligence, or
                          product liability based on any theory or doctrine,
                          recovery of non-economic damages shall be limited to
                          $500,000 per plaintiff. There shall be no recovery for
                          hedonic damages." 735 ILCS 5/2--1115.1(a) (West
                          1996).
             Section 2--1115.1(d) provides that nothing in section 2--
           1115.1 shall be construed to create a right to recover
           noneconomic damages. The statute defines "non-economic
           damages" as "damages which are intangible, including but not
           limited to damages for pain and suffering, disability,
           disfigurement, loss of consortium, and loss of society." 735
           ILCS 5/2--1115.2(b) (West 1996). Economic damages, defined
           as "all damages which are tangible, such as damages for past
           and future medical expenses, loss of income or earnings and
           other property loss" (735 ILCS 5/2--1115.2(a) (West 1996)), are
           not limited. By its terms, the statute defines "compensatory" or
           "actual" damages as "the sum of economic and non-economic
           damages." 735 ILCS 5/2--1115.2(c) (West 1996). Thus,
           compensatory damages, i.e., damages which are intended to
           make an injured plaintiff whole, are limited by section 2--
           1115.1.
             The cap on compensatory damages for noneconomic injury
           is, as the parties acknowledge, at the heart of Public Act 89--7.
           The key role of this cap is reflected in the preamble to the Act,
           which contains 18 specific "findings" and eight listed "purposes"
           based on those findings. Eight of the 18 findings in the
           preamble pertain to noneconomic damages. These findings
           declare that: (1) limiting noneconomic damages will improve
           health care in rural Illinois, (2) more than 20 states limit
           noneconomic damages, (3) the cost of health care has decreased
           in those states, (4) noneconomic losses have no monetary
           dimension, and no objective criteria or jurisprudence exists for
           assessing or reviewing noneconomic damages awards, (5) such
           awards are highly erratic and depend on subjective preferences
           of the trier of fact, (6) highly erratic noneconomic damages
           awards subvert the credibility of such awards and undercut the
           deterrent function of tort law, (7) such awards must be limited
           to provide consistency and stability for all parties and society
           and (8) "a federal executive branch working group" determined
           that limiting noneconomic damages was the most effective step
           toward legislative reform of tort law because it reduces litigation
           costs and expedites settlement.
             In addition to the above legislative "findings," the preamble
           to Public Act 89--7 states legislative "purposes" which relate to
           the limit on noneconomic damages. These purposes may be
           summarized as follows: reduce the cost of health care and
           increase accessibility to health care, promote consistency in
           awards, reestablish the credibility of the civil justice system,
           establish parameters or guidelines for noneconomic damages,
           protect the economic health of the state by decreasing systemic
           costs, and ensure the affordability of insurance.
             The preamble also declares, "It is the public policy of this
           State that injured persons injured through negligence or
           deliberate misconduct of another be afforded a legal mechanism
           to seek compensation for their injuries."
             In the circuit court, defendants maintained that the Act and
           its specified goals represent a return to fairness, predictability,
           responsibility and rationality in the tort arena. Specifically,
           defendants argued that the limit on noneconomic damages
           provides rationality to the system of awarding damages for
           personal injury.
             Plaintiffs, in their motion for partial summary judgment,
           challenged the legislature's use of chiefly anecdotal evidence to
           justify the Act.[fn1] Citing a 1992 report from the National
           Center for State Courts, plaintiffs noted that businesses, not
           private personal injury plaintiffs, constitute the most active
           group of litigants in the state. Plaintiffs further argued that the
           uncontested empirical evidence that they presented in
           conjunction with their motion clearly shows that the legislative
           "findings" listed in the preamble do not provide a rational
           justification for the limitation of compensatory damages for
           noneconomic injuries. In support, plaintiffs submitted several
           affidavits with their motion for summary judgment on the
           constitutionality of section 2--1115.1.
             Neil Vidmar, Professor of Social Science and Law at Duke
           Law School in Durham, North Carolina, submitted an affidavit
           in which he explains that many of the assertions about medical
           malpractice litigation contained in the preamble of Public Act
           89--7, as well as statements made at the hearing and debates
           which preceded its passage, have no empirical basis and were
           based on unsubstantiated perceptions or unreliable data. For
           example, the perception that damages caps result in a decrease
           in the number of medical malpractice cases filed was rebutted
           by the experience in Indiana, a state in which damages caps
           were adopted in 1975. Vidmar cites studies revealing that
           Indiana actually has experienced an increase in claims. See E.
           Kinney, W. Gronfein & T. Gannon, Indiana's Medical
           Malpractice Act: Results of a Three-Year Study, 24 Ind. L. Rev.
           1275, 1286 (1991). Vidmar states that he is aware of no reliable
           evidence in the formal studies which indicate that a limit on
           noneconomic damages corresponds to a significant impact on
           the cost or availability of health care or that noneconomic
           damages and the costs of liability insurance are directly linked.
             In a separate affidavit, Marc Galanter, Evjue-Bascom
           Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin Law School,
           agrees that there is little evidence, apart from anecdotes, to
           support the perceived deleterious effects of the present civil
           litigation system. He cites to an article he authored entitled Real
           World Torts: An Antidote to Anecdote, 55 Md. L. Rev. 1093
           (1996). He maintains that the only consequences which clearly
           flow from the passage of Public Act 89--7 are increased
           profitability of insurance companies and a reduction in the
           payments to the most seriously injured tort victims. According
           to Galanter, court filings in the law division of the circuit court
           of Cook County have actually declined during the period from
           1980 to 1994. Galanter asserts that arguments which rely on
           systemic costs of the civil litigation system and its negative
           effect on health care and jobs are purely speculative. Similarly,
           he states that the salutary effects attributed to the type of tort
           reform attempted in Public Act 89--7 are largely speculative.
           Galanter concludes that when comparing isolated instances or
           anecdotal evidence against the reliable empirical data that does
           exist, it is apparent that the findings which form the basis for
           Public Act 89--7 are erroneous.
             In addition to the above affidavits, plaintiffs offered the
           joint affidavit of Stephen Daniels, M.A., Ph.D., a senior research
           fellow at the American Bar Foundation in Chicago, and Joanne
           Martin, M.M., J.D., an assistant director of the same foundation.
           Their affidavit summarizes the key empirical findings of
           scholarly literature and compares them to the factual
           underpinnings of Public Act 89--7. Like Vidmar and Galanter,
           Daniels and Martin state that the facts which form the stated
           intention or goals of Public Act 89--7 are not substantiated by
           the empirical data and critical analyses found in published,
           scholarly literature. Daniels and Martin summarize data which
           show that only a tiny fraction of accidental deaths and injuries
           are pursued through the litigation system as claims for
           compensation. They further maintain, based on studies, that jury
           awards are not erratic or capricious, but rather relate closely to
           the severity of the particular injury.
             After considering the arguments of the parties and the
           materials presented, the circuit court invalidated section 2--
           1115.1 on the grounds that it violated the following provisions
           of the Illinois Constitution: special legislation (Ill. Const. 1970,
           art. IV, sec. 13), equal protection and due process (Ill. Const.
           1970, art. I, sec. 2), separation of powers (Ill. Const. 1970, art.
           II, sec. 1), right to a jury (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, sec. 13) and
           right to a certain remedy (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, sec. 12). The
           circuit court held that "no conceivable argument [could] be
           made in good faith to suggest that arbitrarily limiting
           [compensatory] damages complies with the [Illinois
           Constitution]." The court determined that section 2--1115.1
           constitutes special legislation because it eliminates fairness and
           impartiality in the awarding of compensatory damages, thereby
           bestowing on certain tortfeasors a disproportionate, undeserved
           benefit of escaping liability for a portion of compensatory
           damages. The court further found that the affidavits filed in
           support of plaintiffs' opposition to the findings in the preamble
           to Public Act 89--7 demonstrate that there is no rational basis
           for section 2--1115.1.
             Our review of the circuit court's ruling is de novo. See
           Bernier, 113 Ill. 2d at 230. As such, our scope of review is not
           limited to or bound by any specific material relied upon by the
           circuit court. We acknowledge that the trial court considered the
           affidavits of Vidmar, Galanter, Martin and Daniels in its ruling
           on plaintiffs' motions for partial summary judgment. The
           materials were admitted in support of plaintiffs' claim that the
           provisions of the Act are not rationally related to its purposes.
           While we note that it was permissible for plaintiffs to introduce
           empirical evidence by way of affidavit, plaintiffs may not
           prevail on their constitutional challenges merely by showing that
           the General Assembly was mistaken in its legislative findings of
           fact. Bernier, 113 Ill. 2d at 229-30, citing United States v.
           Carolene Products Co., 304 U.S. 144, 153-54, 82 L. Ed. 1234,
           1242, 58 S. Ct. 778, 784 (1938). Courts are not empowered to
           "adjudicate" the accuracy of legislative findings. The legislative
           fact-finding authority is broad and should be accorded great
           deference by the judiciary. Therefore, to the extent the affidavits
           of record may have been offered to contest the wisdom of the
           legislative enactment, we reiterate that the legislature is not
           required to convince this court of the correctness of its judgment
           that the civil justice system needs reform. See Bernier, 113 Ill.
           2d at 229, citing Vance v. Bradley, 440 U.S. 93, 111, 59 L. Ed.
           2d 171, 184-85, 99 S. Ct. 939, 949-50 (1979); see also Cutinello
           v. Whitley, 161 Ill. 2d 409 (1994). Our task is limited to
           determining whether the challenged legislation is constitutional,
           and not whether it is wise. Bernier, 113 Ill. 2d at 230.
           
               B. Special Legislation
             In this court, plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the
           damages cap, section 2--1115.1, on the basis that it violates the
           special legislation clause of the Illinois Constitution (Ill. Const.
           1970, art. IV, sec. 13). Plaintiffs maintain that for individuals
           whose injuries are minor or moderate, the limit will rarely, if
           ever, be implicated. Instead, the limit is imposed only when a
           jury or trial court finds, and the reviewing court agrees, that an
           award of compensatory noneconomic damages in excess of
           $500,000 is required to make the plaintiff whole. According to
           plaintiffs, section 2--1115.1 impermissibly penalizes the most
           severely injured individuals, whose pain and suffering,
           disfigurement, and other noneconomic injuries would be most
           likely to result in a compensatory award in excess of $500,000
           but for the statutory limit. Similarly, plaintiffs reason, the
           damages cap arbitrarily benefits certain tortfeasors, who are
           relieved of liability for fully compensating plaintiffs. Thus,
           plaintiffs maintain, section 2--1115.1 constitutes special
           legislation.
             The special legislation clause of the Illinois Constitution
           provides:
                      "The General Assembly shall pass no special or local
                          law when a general law is or can be made applicable.
                          Whether a general law is or can be made applicable
                          shall be a matter for judicial determination." (Emphasis
                          added.) Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV, sec. 13.
              It has been noted that the prohibition against special
           legislation is the "one provision in the legislative articles that
           specifically limits the lawmaking power of the General
           Assembly." S. Grove & R. Carlson, The Legislature, in Con-
           Con: Issues for the Illinois Constitutional Convention 101, 103
           (1970). The special legislation clause expressly prohibits the
           General Assembly from conferring a special benefit or exclusive
           privilege on a person or a group of persons to the exclusion of
           others similarly situated. In re Petition of the Village of Vernon
           Hills, 168 Ill. 2d 117, 122 (1995). This court has consistently
           held that the purpose of the special legislation clause is to
           prevent arbitrary legislative classifications that discriminate in
           favor of a select group without a sound, reasonable basis.
           Wright v. Central Du Page Hospital Ass'n, 63 Ill. 2d 313 (1976)
           (invalidating $500,000 cap on damages in medical malpractice
           actions); Grace v. Howlett, 51 Ill. 2d 478 (1972) (striking
           classifications that conditioned recovery for personal injuries
           upon fortuity of whether negligent driver was using vehicle for
           commercial or private purposes); Grasse v. Dealer's Transport
           Co., 412 Ill. 179 (1952) (invalidating discriminatory
           classifications of employers, employees, and third-party
           tortfeasors in workers' compensation provision).
             Special legislation analysis is deeply embedded in the
           constitutional jurisprudence of this state. The ban on special
           legislation originally arose in the nineteenth century in response
           to the General Assembly's abuse of the legislative process by
           granting special charters for various economic entities. D.
           Ruder, Business Regulation: Corporations, in Con-Con: Issues
           for the Illinois Constitutional Convention 382, 382-83 (1970).
           The special legislation clause in the Constitution of 1870
           enumerated over 20 specific categories in which the General
           Assembly was prohibited from passing a local or special law.
           Ill. Const. 1870, art. IV, sec. 22. The distinction between special
           and local laws may be stated as follows:
               "A local law is one which applies only to the
                          government of a portion of the territory of the state, and
                          a special law is one which applies only to a portion of
                          the state--its people, its institutions, its economy--in
                          some sense other than geographical." G. Braden & R.
                          Cohn, The Illinois Constitution: An Annotated &
                          Comparative Analysis 206-07 (1969).
             Delegates to the 1870 constitutional convention criticized
           special legislation because, instead of establishing and enforcing
           general principles applicable to every class of citizens, special
           legislation enriched particular classes of individuals at the
           expense of others. I Debates and Proceedings of the
           Constitutional Convention of the State of Illinois 578 (remarks
           of Delegate Anderson). Delegate Anderson spoke in favor of the
           prohibition against special legislation and stated:
               "Governments were not made to make the `rich richer
                          and the poor poorer,' nor to advance the interest of the
                          few against the many; but that the weak might be
                          protected from the will of the strong; that the poor
                          might enjoy the same rights with the rich; that one
                          species of property might be as free as another--that one
                          class or interest should not flourish by the aid of
                          government, whilst another is oppressed with all the
                          burdens." I Debates, at 578 (remarks of Delegate
                          Anderson).
             Evidently in recognition of the value of the prohibition
           against special legislation, the framers of the Illinois
           Constitution of 1970 decided to retain the clause, with some
           modifications. See Anderson v. Wagner, 79 Ill. 2d 295, 313-14
           (1979). First, because the enumerated categories in the
           constitution of 1870 clearly reflected the nineteenth century
           concerns which had lost their relevance with the passage of
           time, the framers of the 1970 constitution omitted the "laundry
           list" of prohibited categories. See G. Braden & R. Cohn, The
           Illinois Constitution: An Annotated & Comparative Analysis
           225-26 (1969). Additionally, the 1970 constitution rejected the
           previous rule which had vested in the legislature the power to
           determine whether a general law could be made applicable.
           Bridgewater v. Hotz, 51 Ill. 2d 103, 110 (1972). Thus, the
           present version of the special legislation clause contains an
           express grant of power to the judiciary: "Whether a general law
           is or can be made applicable shall be a matter for judicial
           determination." Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV, sec. 13.
             The framers of the 1970 constitution retained the special
           legislation prohibition even though an equal protection/due
           process clause was included in the Illinois Constitution for the
           first time. See Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, sec. 2 ("No person shall
           be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of
           law nor be denied the equal protection of the laws").
             A special legislation challenge generally is judged under the
           same standards applicable to an equal protection challenge.
           Village of Vernon Hills, 168 Ill. 2d at 123. Public Act 89--7
           does not affect a fundamental right or involve a suspect or
           quasi-suspect classification. See Bernier, 113 Ill. 2d at 227-
           29.[fn2]  Thus, the appropriate standard for our review of
           Public Act 89--7 is the rational basis test. "Under this standard,
           a court must determine whether the statutory classification is
           rationally related to a legitimate State interest." Village of
           Vernon Hills, 168 Ill. 2d at 123.
             Our task in determining whether the damages cap violates
           the special legislation clause is not without difficulty. See
           Grasse, 412 Ill. at 194. Indeed, the dilemma in discerning
           whether or not a particular statute constitutes special legislation
           has been described as follows:
               "It is impossible to conceive of a law that has universal
                          impact and affects everyone or everything in the same
                          way. By enacting laws, the legislature can hardly avoid
                          excluding some category of people or objects. In
                          enforcing this prohibition, the courts must decide if the
                          legislature has made a reasonable classification.
                          Differences of opinion are bound to exist in such
                          situations and the ultimate decision must rest with some
                          judgment as to the soundness of the legislature's
                          action." S. Grove & R. Carlson, The Legislature, in
                          Con-Con: Issues for the Illinois Constitutional
                          Convention 106 (1970).
             The difficulty is not overcome by merely reiterating that a
           classification has been made, i.e., that the legislature has in
           some way classified groups of people. Rather, we must
           determine whether the classifications created by section 2--
           1115.1 are based upon reasonable differences in kind or
           situation, and whether the basis for the classifications is
           sufficiently related to the evil to be obviated by the statute.
           Grasse, 412 Ill. at 195. We note that the legislature has wide
           discretion in the exercise of its police power. However, in
           evaluating a challenged provision the court must consider the
           natural and reasonable effect of the legislation on the rights
           affected by the provision. Grasse, 412 Ill. at 193.
             While it is unnecessary to discuss every Illinois Supreme
           Court case which has evaluated legislation in the context of the
           special legislation clause, we note the many cases cited by both
           plaintiffs and defendants in the case at bar. Defendants cite
           numerous cases in which this court has rejected challenges to
           legislation on special legislation and equal protection grounds.
           See, e.g., Brown's Furniture, Inc. v. Wagner, 171 Ill. 2d 410
           (1996) (upholding constitutionality of a use tax); Cutinello v.
           Whitley, 161 Ill. 2d 409 (1994) (upholding constitutionality of
           a county motor fuel tax law); People v. Shephard, 152 Ill. 2d
           489 (1992) (upholding constitutionality of criminal statute which
           allowed an enhanced penalty for selling narcotics with an intent
           to deliver if the situs of the crime is within 1,000 feet of public
           housing); Chicago National League Ball Club, Inc. v.
           Thompson, 108 Ill. 2d 357 (1985) (upholding constitutionality
           of an environmental regulation which monitored nighttime
           baseball games); Bilyk v. Chicago Transit Authority, 125 Ill. 2d
           230 (1988) (upholding constitutionality of immunity for a transit
           authority for failure to protect against criminal acts of third
           parties).
             In contrast to the above cases, this court has invalidated
           legislative classifications under the special legislation clause
           where they have an artificially narrow focus and which appear
           to be designed primarily to confer a benefit on a particular
           private group without a reasonable basis, rather than to promote
           the general welfare. See, e.g., In re Belmont Fire Protection
           District, 111 Ill. 2d 373, 381-86 (1986) (invalidating a statute
           which authorized only counties with populations of between
           600,000 and 1 million residents to consolidate all fire protection
           services into one district); Wright v. Central Du Page Hospital
           Ass'n, 63 Ill. 2d 313, 325-30 (1976) (invalidating $500,000 limit
           on compensatory damages in medical malpractice actions);
           Grace v. Howlett, 51 Ill. 2d 478, 486-87 (1972) (invalidating a
           limit on recovery applicable to damages inflicted by commercial
           motorists, but not private motorists); Skinner v. Anderson, 38 Ill.
           2d 455, 459-60 (1967) (invalidating a statute of repose for
           construction-related injuries for architects and contractors, but
           not other potential defendants in the construction process); see
           also Lorton v. Brown County Community Unit School District
           No. I, 35 Ill. 2d 362, 364-66 (1966); Hutchings v. Kraject, 34
           Ill. 2d 379, 380-82 (1966); Harvey v. Clyde Park District, 32 Ill.
           2d 60, 64-67 (1964). As the above-cited cases reveal, the
           hallmark of an unconstitutional classification is its arbitrary
           application to similarly situated individuals without adequate
           justification or connection to the purpose of the statute.
             In the case at bar, plaintiffs specifically rely on the
           following three decisions of this court which held invalid as
           special legislation certain statutes which created arbitrary
           classifications between groups of similarly situated injured
           plaintiffs or tortfeasors: Wright v. Central Du Page Hospital
           Ass'n, 63 Ill. 2d 313 (1976); Grace v. Howlett, 51 Ill. 2d 478
           (1972); Grasse v. Dealer's Transport Co., 412 Ill. 179 (1952).
           Because plaintiffs maintain that these precedents of this court
           are controlling with respect to the constitutionality of section 2--
           1115.1, we discuss them in detail.
             In Wright, this court held that a $500,000 limit on
           compensatory damages in medical malpractice actions (Ill. Rev.
           Stat. 1975, ch. 70, par. 101) violated the equal protection and
           special legislation provisions of the Illinois Constitution. Like
           plaintiffs in the case at bar, the plaintiff in Wright argued that
           the compensatory damages limit arbitrarily classified and
           unreasonably discriminated against the most seriously injured
           victims of medical malpractice. Like defendants in the case at
           bar, the defendants in Wright argued that a compensatory
           damage limit was necessary to manage a liability crisis,
           specifically a "medical malpractice crisis." The plaintiff
           maintained, however, that the burden of the legislative effort to
           reduce or maintain malpractice insurance premiums arbitrarily
           fell exclusively on those most deserving of compensation: the
           severely injured.
             The Wright court noted that unlike statutorily created causes
           of action (see Hall v. Gillins, 13 Ill. 2d 26 (1958); Cunningham
           v. Brown, 22 Ill. 2d 23 (1961)), the right to recover for injuries
           arising from medical malpractice existed at common law.[fn3]
           See Ritchey v. West, 23 Ill. 329 (1860). Thus, the limitations on
           that right of action were subject to constitutional scrutiny.
           Specifically, in Wright, this court concluded that the General
           Assembly did not have the power to prescribe arbitrary
           limitations on an injured plaintiff's compensatory damages. The
           limitation on compensatory damages in medical malpractice
           actions was determined to be arbitrary and a special law in
           violation of the special legislation clause of the Illinois
           Constitution of 1970. The damages limit conferred a special
           privilege on medical malpractice tortfeasors by insulating them
           from fully compensating plaintiffs for fairly assessed damages.
           Consequently, relief to an injured plaintiff depended solely on
           an arbitrary classification, in violation of the prohibition against
           special legislation. Wright, 63 Ill. 2d at 329-30.
             Similarly, in Grace, this court held that a statute which
           limited recovery for certain automobile accident victims
           constituted an arbitrary and unreasonable legislative
           classification in violation of the prohibition against special
           legislation. At issue in Grace was a newly enacted article to the
           Illinois Insurance Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 73, pars.
           1065.150 through 1065.163). The plaintiffs brought an action for
           injunctive relief against state officers to enjoin them from
           expending funds appropriated for the enforcement of the new
           article. The combined effect of certain provisions of the new
           law was to limit an injured plaintiff's ability to recover
           compensatory damages, including damages for pain and
           suffering, depending on whether the party at fault was using the
           automobile for commercial or personal purposes.
             The defendants in Grace described the amendment to the
           Insurance Code as a response to the growing public demand for
           a change in the way society copes with the enormous legal,
           social and economic problems produced by car accidents. The
           defendants identified small personal injury actions as one of the
           major evils of the system of compensating car accident victims.
           Grace, 51 Ill. 2d at 484. The defendants further maintained that
           the studies regarding car accident compensation identified many
           problems with the system of compensating injured individuals.
           Specifically, the defendants maintained that the studies showed
           the inequitable distribution of compensation among victims, the
           excessive expense of the claim system, and the excessive burden
           on limited judicial resources. According to the defendants, the
           changes to the Insurance Code were rationally connected to
           legitimate government concerns.
             In determining whether the provisions at issue violated
           special legislation and equal protection, the Grace court
           assumed that the problems described by the defendants in fact
           existed. However, the court reasoned, the fact that a problem
           exists does not permit the adoption of an arbitrary or unrelated
           means of addressing the problem. Grace, 51 Ill. 2d at 485. In
           rejecting the defendants' argument that the legislation was a
           permissible exercise of legislative power, the Grace court stated,
                      "Unless this court is to abdicate its constitutional
                          responsibility to determine whether a general law can be
                          made applicable, the available scope for legislative
                          experimentation with special legislation is limited, and
                          this court cannot rule that the legislature is free to enact
                          special legislation simply because `reform may take one
                          step at a time.' [Citation.]" Grace, 51 Ill. 2d at 487.
             This court concluded that to the extent that recovery is
           permitted or denied on an arbitrary basis, a special privilege was
           granted in violation of the prohibition against special legislation.
           Grace, 51 Ill. 2d at 487-90.
             In Grasse, this court invalidated a provision of the Worker's
           Compensation Act that created arbitrary classifications. At issue
           in Grasse was a provision which automatically transferred to an
           employer, in certain cases, an employee's common law right of
           action against a third-party tortfeasor. In Grasse, the plaintiff
           and his employer filed claims against a private defendant to
           recover damages stemming from an automobile collision which
           was allegedly caused by the negligence of the defendant's
           employee. Because both the plaintiff and defendant's employee
           were acting in the course of their employment at the time of the
           accident, paragraph 1 of section 29 of the Worker's
           Compensation Act applied to the subsequent litigation. This
           provision authorized the automatic transfer of the plaintiff-
           employee's claim against the third-party tortfeasor to the
           plaintiff's employer. The circuit court consequently dismissed
           the plaintiff's claim against the third-party tortfeasor.
             On appeal to this court, the plaintiff alleged, in part, that the
           statute violated the special legislation clause of the Illinois
           Constitution (Ill. Const. 1870, art. IV, sec. 22) because it created
           arbitrary and unreasonable classifications. This court agreed,
           holding that the statute created unreasonable classifications in
           which the plaintiff's ability to recover complete compensation
           was determined by fortuitous circumstances. The statute divided
           injured employees into two arbitrary classes based solely on the
           fortuity of whether or not the third-party tortfeasor was also
           bound by the provision. One class was deprived of the right to
           collect compensatory damages from the tortfeasor and the other
           class, which was similarly situated, was conferred such right.
           This court concluded that there was no substantial or rational
           difference between the injured employees in the two classes and,
           therefore, the statute offended the prohibition against special
           legislation.
             In addition to the unequal treatment of injured employees,
           the Grasse court determined that the statute divided third-party
           tortfeasors into two classes: those bound by the worker's
           compensation provision, who were freed from paying
           compensatory damages to employees of other entities under the
           act, and all other tortfeasors, who remained liable for the full
           amount of fairly assessed compensatory damages. The first class
           of tortfeasors were only required to pay amounts sought by the
           employer as reimbursement for worker's compensation
           payments. In contrast, the second class of tortfeasors remained
           liable to the plaintiff for the full amount of compensatory
           damages assessed by a trier of fact. Therefore, the distinctions
           were arbitrary and constituted a violation of the special
           legislation clause. Grasse, 412 Ill. 2d at 199.
             Defendants maintain that plaintiffs' reliance on Wright,
           Grace, and Grasse is misplaced. According to defendants, these
           cases were limited by Anderson v. Wagner, 79 Ill. 2d 295
           (1979), in a way that renders their holdings inapplicable to the
           legislation in the case at bar.
             At issue in Anderson was section 21.1 of the Limitations
           Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 83, par. 22.1), which provided a
           special statute of limitations period for medical malpractice
           actions against physicians and hospitals. The plaintiffs in
           Anderson contended that section 21.1 violated the due process
           and equal protection provisions of the state and federal
           constitutions, and the special legislation provision of the Illinois
           Constitution. The plaintiff maintained that section 21.1 violated
           the special legislation clause because it (1) set medical
           malpractice apart from all other professional malpractice and (2)
           conferred a special privilege upon only two classes of medical
           health providers, physicians and hospitals. Following an
           extensive analysis of the development of the discovery rule in
           medical malpractice cases, and the impact on physicians and
           hospitals, this court rejected the plaintiff's constitutional
           challenge to the statute of limitations provision at issue.
             In analyzing the plaintiff's challenges, the Anderson court
           retraced the evolution of the "discovery rule" in medical
           malpractice cases. Under the discovery rule, a cause of action
           accrued when a person learned of his injury or reasonably
           should have learned of it. Because the discovery rule came to be
           applied extensively in medical malpractice cases, statutes of
           limitation in existence no longer provided repose for malpractice
           defendants. The discovery rule was perceived to be partly
           responsible for the medical malpractice crisis because it created
           a "long tail" of liability for medical malpractice defendants.
           Thus, the statute of limitations provision at issue in Anderson
           was enacted to place an outside limit on the applicability of the
           discovery rule to physicians and hospitals. Anderson, 79 Ill. 2d
           at 316-21. We find that Anderson is distinguishable from the
           instant case because in Anderson, the General Assembly was
           responding to judicial expansion of the discovery rule, which
           had undermined the medical malpractice statute of limitation by
           creating a tolling provision of potentially unlimited duration.
             Defendants in the instant case also rely upon language in
           Anderson which responded to critics of Wright. In dicta, the
           Anderson court explained that Wright did not hold that all
           statutory provisions creating medical malpractice review panels
           were unconstitutional. The Anderson court also noted that
           Wright's holding regarding the limit on economic damages was
           consistent with American Bar Association standards which
           recommend against any limitation on economic loss. Anderson,
           79 Ill. 2d at 304. However, this court in Anderson did not
           consider the General Assembly's authority to place a limit on
           compensatory damages for noneconomic injuries. We reject
           defendants' argument that our decision in Anderson limits
           Wright's application in the case at bar.
             Plaintiffs argue that section 2--1115.1 merely stitches
           together legislative classifications previously rejected in Wright,
           Grasse and Grace, and then adds product liability cases.
           According to plaintiffs, section 2--1115.1 contains three arbitrary
           classifications that have no reasonable connection to the stated
           legislative goals: (1) the limitation on noneconomic damages
           distinguishes between slightly and severely injured individuals,
           (2) the limitation on noneconomic damages arbitrarily
           distinguishes between individuals with identical injuries, and (3)
           the limitation arbitrarily distinguishes types of injury. At oral
           argument, plaintiffs offered examples illustrating how the
           limitation on noneconomic damages is disconnected from the
           stated legislative purposes of providing rationality and
           consistency to jury verdicts.
             In the first example, it is assumed that three plaintiffs are
           injured as a result of the same tortfeasor's negligence. Plaintiff
           A is injured moderately, and suffers pain, disability and
           disfigurement for a month. Plaintiff B is severely injured and
           suffers one year of pain and disability. Plaintiff C is drastically
           injured, and suffers permanent pain and disability. For purposes
           of this example, it is further assumed that a jury awards
           plaintiffs A and B $100,000 in compensatory damages for
           noneconomic injuries. Plaintiff C receives $1 million for his
           permanent, life-long pain and disability.
             In the above hypothetical, section 2--1115.1 fails to provide
           consistency or rationality to a jury's seemingly inconsistent
           decision to award plaintiffs A and B the same amount for very
           different noneconomic injuries. Therefore, the legislative goal of
           providing consistency is not met by the damages cap. With
           respect to plaintiff C, section 2--1115.1 arbitrarily and
           automatically reduces the jury's award for a lifetime of pain and
           disability, without regard to whether or not the verdict, before
           reduction, was reasonable and fair.
             The tortfeasors in this example are also treated differently,
           without any justification. The tortfeasor who injures plaintiffs A
           and B is liable for the full amount of fairly assessed
           compensatory damages. In contrast, section 2--1115.1 confers a
           benefit on the similarly situated tortfeasor who injures plaintiff
           C. This tortfeasor pays only a portion of fairly assessed
           compensatory damages because of the limitation in section 2--
           1115.1. Therefore, the statute discriminates between slightly and
           severely injured plaintiffs, and also between tortfeasors who
           cause severe and moderate or minor injuries.
             Plaintiffs suggest that section 2--1115.1 creates a second
           arbitrary legislative classification by distinguishing between
           injured individuals who suffer identical injuries. For example,
           we are asked to assume that an individual loses his leg due to
           a defectively manufactured forklift today, and he loses his other
           leg in a car accident the following year. Both injuries are caused
           by the negligent conduct of others. The injured individual brings
           two different actions against two different defendants, and a jury
           assesses compensatory damages for noneconomic injuries at
           $400,000 in each case. Section 2--1115.1 would allow the
           plaintiff to recover both verdicts in full. However, if the same
           plaintiff lost both legs in a single accident due to the negligence
           of another, and if the jury fairly assessed $800,000 in
           compensatory damages for noneconomic injuries, then the cap
           in section 2--1115.1 would eliminate a substantial portion of that
           tortfeasor's liability, without regard to the facts of the case.
             To illustrate the third arbitrary classification created by the
           limitation on noneconomic damages in personal injury actions,
           plaintiffs argue that section 2--1115.1 improperly discriminates
           among types of injuries. Plaintiffs maintain that the legislative
           statements concerning the supposed difficulties of assessing
           damages for noneconomic injuries apply equally to all tort
           claims for pure noneconomic loss, and not just those involving
           death, bodily injury or property damage. Other torts that remain
           unaffected by the legislation at issue are invasion of privacy,
           defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent
           infliction of emotional distress, damage to reputation and breach
           of fiduciary duty. The speculative nature of noneconomic
           damages for these torts, which do not involve personal injury,
           is not addressed by the cap in section 2--1115.1.
             Plaintiffs maintain that the above illustrations demonstrate
           the arbitrariness of the classifications created by section 2--
           1115.1, in violation of the prohibition against special legislation.
           Plaintiffs contend that the classifications contained within
           section 2--1115.1 allow certain culpable tortfeasors to escape
           liability for a portion of fairly assessed compensatory damages,
           while requiring others to pay the full amount of assessed
           damages. Similarly, certain injured plaintiffs are denied
           compensatory damages, while other similarly situated injured
           plaintiffs are awarded full compensation, without any rational
           justification for the distinction.
             Defendants raise a series of related arguments in opposition
           to plaintiffs' contention that section 2--1115.1 is arbitrary and
           not rationally related to a legitimate government interest.
           Defendants contend that plaintiffs' arguments are "fatally
           flawed" in that they are based on the erroneous assumption that
           noneconomic injuries, which are difficult to assess, should be
           monetarily compensable. Defendants further argue that section
           2--1115.1 is rationally related to the legislative goal of reducing
           systemic costs of the civil justice system, which may be
           accomplished "one step at a time"; that the General Assembly
           has the power to change the common law; and that other
           jurisdictions have upheld statutory limitations on damages
           similar to section 2--1115.1. We address each of defendants'
           arguments in turn.
             At oral argument, in rebuttal, defendants stated that "it is
           not true that money can compensate for noneconomic damages,
           [or] at least the legislature could find that that is the case."
           Defendants do not dispute the general proposition that
           noneconomic injuries are "real." Rather, defendants argue that
           noneconomic damages are "inherently unmeasurable." Thus,
           according to defendants, the legislature's adoption of an
           "objective" limitation on noneconomic damages is reasonable
           and must be upheld as a legitimate exercise of legislative
           judgment.
             Defendants' argument contradicts the statute under
           consideration. Subsection (b) of section 2--1115.1 defines
           noneconomic loss or noneconomic damages as "damages which
           are intangible, including but not limited to damages for pain and
           suffering, disability, disfigurement, loss of consortium and loss
           of society." Subsection (c) provides that "compensatory
           damages" or "actual damages" are "the sum of the economic and
           noneconomic damages." Section 2--1115.1 itself demonstrates
           that the legislature believed that remuneration is an appropriate
           means by which to compensate tort victims for their
           noneconomic injuries. Therefore, the application of a limit to the
           noneconomic damages of some, but not all, injured plaintiffs is
           not justified by the difficulty of assessing such damages.
             We do not disagree with defendants' assertion that damages
           for noneconomic injuries are difficult to assess. We simply
           determine that it does not follow that the difficulty in
           quantifying compensatory damages for noneconomic injuries is
           alleviated by imposing an arbitrary limitation or cap on all
           cases, without regard to the facts or circumstances. Further, the
           preamble to Public Act 89--7 states that "[i]t is the public policy
           of this State that persons injured through the negligence or
           deliberate misconduct of another be afforded a legal mechanism
           to seek compensation for their injuries." Pub. Act 89--7, eff.
           March 9, 1995. There is universal agreement that the
           compensatory goal of tort law requires that an injured plaintiff
           be made whole. See, e.g., Peterson v. Lou Bachrodt Chevrolet
           Co., 76 Ill. 2d 353, 363 (1979); 25 C.J.S. Damages sec. 17
           (1966). In this case, the arbitrary and automatic cap on
           compensatory damages for noneconomic injuries in only certain
           tort cases parallels the harm of the arbitrary classifications
           stricken by this court in Wright, Grace, and Grasse. Therefore,
           the $500,000 limit does not reestablish the credibility of the tort
           system, and does nothing to assist the trier of fact in
           determining appropriate damages for noneconomic injuries. The
           limitation actually undermines the stated goal of providing
           consistency and rationality to the civil justice system.
             We reject defendants' argument that the damages cap in
           section 2--1115.1 should be upheld because reform can be
           undertaken "one step at a time." As previously noted in this
           opinion, this court has rejected the "one step" rationale to
           support a classification if the classification is arbitrary. Grace,
           51 Ill. 2d at 487. We need not address this justification further.
             Defendants also argue that the legislative interest in
           reducing the "systemic costs of tort liability" is sufficient to
           overcome plaintiffs' special legislation challenge. The "systemic
           costs of tort liability" are not defined in Public Act 89--7 and
           we are uncertain as to the meaning and scope of these terms.
           Even if we assume that the reduction of these undefined
           systemic costs is a legitimate state interest, we do not discern
           how the limiting of noneconomic damages in personal injury
           actions may be considered rationally related to the achievement
           of that interest. See Wright, 63 Ill. 2d 313 (rejecting defendants'
           argument that lower insurance premiums and medical
           malpractice costs for all recipients of medical care legitimately
           offset the loss of compensatory damages to some malpractice
           victims); Grace, 51 Ill. 2d at 487-88 (rejecting cost-based
           justification for imposing limits on the recovery of personal
           injury claims as to certain class of plaintiffs). Cf. Bernier, 113
           Ill. 2d 219 (punitive damages cap upheld).[fn4] In the instant
           case, we are unable to discern any connection between the
           automatic reduction of one type of compensatory damages
           awarded to one class of injured plaintiffs and a savings in the
           systemwide costs of litigation. Even assuming that a systemwide
           savings in costs were achieved by the cap, the prohibition
           against special legislation does not permit the entire burden of
           the anticipated cost savings to rest on one class of injured
           plaintiffs. E.g., Grace, 51 Ill. 2d at 485. We therefore reject
           defendants' systemic costs rationale as a basis for upholding
           section 2--1115.1.
             Defendants additionally argue that the General Assembly
           has the power to change the common law and, therefore, the
           limitation on compensatory damages is constitutional. See V.
           Schwartz, M. Behrens & M. Taylor, Illinois Tort Law: A Rich
           History of Cooperation and Respect Between the Courts and the
           Legislature, 28 Loy. U. Chi. L.J. 745 (1997). For example,
           defendants cite to the Worker's Compensation Act as an
           instance of the legislature's valid exercise of the police power
           in limiting liability of an employer for injuries sustained by an
           employee during the course of his or her employment. Grand
           Trunk Western Ry. Co. v. Industrial Comm'n, 291 Ill. 167
           (1919).
             Plaintiffs do not dispute that the legislature has the power
           to change the common law, and we do not question defendants'
           argument insofar as it stands for the general principle that the
           General Assembly may alter the common law and change or
           limit available remedies. This principle is well grounded in the
           jurisprudence of this state. See, e.g., Grand Trunk Western Ry.
           Co., 291 Ill. 167. However, defendants' argument assumes too
           much. The legislature is not free to enact changes to the
           common law which are not rationally related to a legitimate
           government interest. The General Assembly's authority to
           exercise its police power by altering the common law and
           limiting available remedies is also dependent upon the nature
           and scope of the particular change in the law. We hold in the
           case at bar that the statutory cap on compensatory damages for
           noneconomic losses is arbitrary.
             Finally, defendants support their contention that the
           limitation on noneconomic damages in section 2--1115.1 is
           constitutional by referring to several other state court decisions
           which have upheld damage limitations. See Fein v. Permanente
           Medical Group, 38 Cal. 3d 137, 695 P.2d 665, 211 Cal. Rptr.
           368 (1985); Samsel v. Wheeler Transport Services, Inc., 246
           Kan. 336, 789 P.2d 541 (1990); Murphy v. Edmonds, 325 Md.
           342, 601 A.2d 102 (1992); Adams v. Children's Mercy Hospital,
           832 S.W.2d 898 (Mo. 1992); Greist v. Phillips, 322 Or. 281,
           906 P.2d 789 (1995); Robinson v. Charleston Area Medical
           Center, Inc., 186 W. Va. 720, 414 S.E.2d 877 (1991); Johnson
           v. St. Vincent Hospital, Inc., 273 Ind. 374, 404 N.E.2d 585
           (1980); Etheridge v. Medical Center Hospitals, 237 Va. 87, 376
           S.E.2d 525 (1989); Butler v. Flint Goodrich Hospital of Dillard
           University, 607 So. 2d 517 (La. 1992); Prendergast v. Nelson,
           199 Neb. 97, 256 N.W.2d 657 (1977); see also Davis v.
           Omitowoju, 883 F.2d 1155 (3d Cir. 1989).
             However, other jurisdictions have held statutory damages
           caps unconstitutional. Moore v. Mobile Infirmary Ass'n, 592 So.
           2d 156, 158 (Ala. 1991); Morris v. Savoy, 61 Ohio 684, 688-89,
           576 N.E.2d 765, 769 (1991), Arneson v. Olson, 270 N.W.2d
           125, 135-36 (N.D. 1978); Lucas v. United States, 757 S.W.2d
           687, 690-92 (Tex. 1988); Sofie v. Fibreboard Corp., 112 Wash.
           2d 636, 771 P.2d 711 (1989). The amount of noneconomic
           damages caps that have been invalidated in other states varies.
           See, e.g., Smith v. Department of Insurance, 507 So. 2d 1080,
           1088-89 (Fla. 1987) ($450,000 cap); Brannigan v. Usitalo, 134
           N.H. 50, 58, 587 A.2d 1232, 1236-37 (1991) ($875,000 cap).
             The statutory caps on damages which have been enacted by
           other states vary considerably in scope and effect. Similarly, the
           state constitutional provisions and precedents under which these
           damage caps have been challenged are unique to each
           jurisdiction. Although the decisions from other states may be
           instructive in some respects, we believe that these decisions are
           of limited assistance in answering the specific question of
           whether section 2--1115.1 offends the special legislation clause
           of the Illinois Constitution. We hold that it does.
           
               C. Separation of Powers
             Plaintiffs also assert that section 2--1115.1 violates the
           separation of powers clause (Ill. Const. 1970, art. II, sec. 1) by
           improperly delegating to the legislature the power of remitting
           verdicts and judgments, which is a power unique to the
           judiciary. See Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, sec. 1 (judicial power is
           vested in the supreme, appellate and circuit courts). According
           to plaintiffs, because section 2--1115.1 limits damages for
           noneconomic injuries, the section violates the constitutional
           separation of powers doctrine by invading the province of the
           judiciary and imposing a "one-size-fits-all `legislative
           remittitur.' " Plaintiffs argue that the cap on damages
           contravenes the traditional authority of the courts to assess, on
           a case-by-case basis, whether a jury's damages award is
           excessive.
             Defendants disagree with plaintiffs' characterization of the
           operation of section 2--1115.1 as a legislative remittitur. They
           argue that the damages cap merely "sets an outer parameter by
           which wholly subjective damages are limited" and in no respect
           displaces traditional judicial functions.
             Under our constitution, the three branches of government--
           legislative, executive, and judicial--are separate and one branch
           shall not "exercise powers properly belonging to another." Ill.
           Const. 1970, art. II, sec. 1. Although our state constitution does
           not define legislative, executive, and judicial power (People v.
           Walker, 119 Ill. 2d 465, 473 (1988)), in "both theory and
           practice, the purpose of the [separation of powers] provision is
           to ensure that the whole power of two or more branches of
           government shall not reside in the same hands." Walker, 119 Ill.
           2d at 473; Knuepfer v. Fawell, 96 Ill. 2d 284, 292 (1983).
             Each branch of government has its own unique sphere of
           authority that cannot be exercised by another branch. See, e.g.,
           Murneigh v. Gainer, 177 Ill. 2d 287, 312-13 (1997) (holding
           invalid an attempted delegation of an executive or administrative
           function to the judicial branch); Wright v. Central Du Page
           Hospital Ass'n, 63 Ill. 2d 313, 322 (1976) (holding invalid an
           attempted delegation of judicial power to nonjudicial member of
           medical malpractice review board); Fields Jeep-Eagle, Inc. v.
           Chrysler Corp., 163 Ill. 2d 462, 478-79 (1994) (holding invalid
           attempted delegation of legislative or administrative
           decisionmaking to the judiciary); see also Agran v. Checker Taxi
           Co., 412 Ill. 145, 149 (1952) ("If the power is judicial in its
           nature, it necessarily follows that the legislature is expressly
           prohibited from exercising it").
             This court has often recognized that the separation of the
           three branches of government is not absolute and unyielding.
           See, e.g., Strukoff v. Strukoff, 76 Ill. 2d 53, 58 (1979). The
           separation of powers clause is not contravened merely because
           separate spheres of governmental authority may overlap. County
           of Kane v. Carlson, 116 Ill. 2d 186, 208 (1987). However, it
           should be emphasized that the determination of when, and under
           what circumstances, a violation of the separation of powers
           doctrine has occurred remains with the judiciary. See, e.g.,
           Murneigh, 177 Ill. 2d at 303; People v. Warren, 173 Ill. 2d 348
           (1996). In furtherance of the authority of the judiciary to carry
           out its constitutional obligations, the legislature is prohibited
           from enacting laws that unduly infringe upon the inherent
           powers of judges. See, e.g., In re S.G., 175 Ill. 2d 471, 487
           (1997); Walker, 119 Ill. 2d at 474; People v. Bainter, 126 Ill. 2d
           292, 303 (1989); Agran, 412 Ill. at 149.
             For over a century it has been a traditional and inherent
           power of the judicial branch of government to apply the doctrine
           of remittitur, in appropriate and limited circumstances, to correct
           excessive jury verdicts. E.g., Hansen v. Boyd, 161 U.S. 397, 412, 40 L. Ed. 746, 751, 16 S. Ct. 571, 576 (1896); Dimick v.
           Schiedt, 293 U.S. 474, 484-85, 79 L. Ed. 603, 610, 55 S. Ct.
           296, 300 (1935). In Dimick, 293 U.S. at 486, 79 L. Ed. at 611,
           55 S. Ct. at 301, the United States Supreme Court recognized
           that remittitur of an excessive portion of a jury verdict is a
           question of law for the court.
             The practice of ordering a remittitur of excessive damages
           has long been recognized and accepted as part of Illinois law.
           See, e.g., Richardson v. Chapman, 175 Ill. 2d 98, 113 (1997);
           Lee v. Chicago Transit Authority, 152 Ill. 2d 432 (1992); Carter
           v. Kirk, 256 Ill. App. 3d 938 (1993). The remittitur doctrine has
           been acknowledged as promoting both the administration of
           justice and the conclusion of litigation. See Carter, 256 Ill. App.
           3d at 947; McElroy v. Patton, 130 Ill. App. 2d 872, 877 (1970).
           This court has stated that "[a]n award of damages will be
           deemed excessive if it falls outside the range of fair and
           reasonable compensation or results from passion or prejudice, or
           if it is so large that it shocks the judicial conscience."
           Richardson v. Chapman, 175 Ill. 2d 98, 113 (1997). However,
           a damages award will not be subject to remittitur where it "falls
           within the flexible range of conclusions which can reasonably
           be supported by the facts" because the assessment of damages
           is primarily an issue of fact for jury determination. Lee, 152 Ill.
           2d at 470; see also Barry v. Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp.,
           282 Ill. App. 3d 199, 207 (1996) (noting that evaluations of a
           plaintiff's pain and suffering depend on jurors' combined
           wisdom and experience); Riley v. Koneru, 228 Ill. App. 3d 883,
           887-88 (1992) (noting reluctance of courts to interfere with
           damages awards unless the award is the result of passion or
           prejudice) .
             The deference given to the careful deliberative process of
           the jury is overcome if, after examining the evidence presented
           at trial, the trial judge determines that the jury verdict is
           excessive. In such a case, "the judge may not allow the verdict
           to stand but must act to correct the injustice; and the failure to
           do so is, itself, error." Haid v. Tingle, 219 Ill. App. 3d 406, 410
           (1991). Under such circumstances the court has a duty to correct
           the excessive verdict, and may do so by ordering a remittitur of
           a portion of the damages, with the plaintiff's consent. As a
           check on excessive verdicts, therefore, the inherent power of the
           court to order a remittitur or, if the plaintiff does not consent, a
           new trial, is essential to the judicial management of trials. See
           Haid, 219 Ill. App. 3d at 412.
             Case law reflects that the application of remittitur should be
           considered on a case-by-case basis because the evidence and
           circumstances supporting verdicts must be carefully examined
           before a jury's assessment of damages is reduced. See
           Richardson v. Chapman, 175 Ill. 2d 98 (1997) (remitting one
           plaintiff's $11 million award for future medical expenses by $1
           million and reducing by half the other plaintiff's pain and
           suffering award). See also Carter v. Kirk, 256 Ill. App. 3d 938
           (1993) (finding that trial court properly granted $20,000
           remittitur where the jury's verdict was excessive because
           medical evidence failed to support the plaintiff's claims). In
           other circumstances, courts have declined to enter a remittitur,
           even in cases involving large awards, because the evidence
           supported the jury's verdicts. Cf. Holston v. Sisters of the Third
           Order of St. Francis, 165 Ill. 2d 150 (1995) (declining to reduce
           as excessive a $7.3 million verdict in a wrongful death and
           survival case); Barry, 282 Ill. App. 3d at 208 (declining to apply
           a remittitur to $12 million verdict).
             In the case at bar, we conclude that section 2--1115.1
           undercuts the power, and obligation, of the judiciary to reduce
           excessive verdicts. In our view, section 2--1115.1 functions as
           a "legislative remittitur." Unlike the traditional remittitur power
           of the judiciary, the legislative remittitur of section 2--1115.1
           disregards the jury's careful deliberative process in determining
           damages that will fairly compensate injured plaintiffs who have
           proven their causes of action. The cap on damages is mandatory
           and operates wholly apart from the specific circumstances of a
           particular plaintiff's noneconomic injuries. Therefore, section 2--
           1115.1 unduly encroaches upon the fundamentally judicial
           prerogative of determining whether a jury's assessment of
           damages is excessive within the meaning of the law.
             We additionally note that the cap provision of section 2--
           1115.1 forces the successful plaintiff to forgo part of his or her
           jury award without the plaintiff's consent, in clear violation of
           the well-settled principle that a trial court does not have
           authority to reduce a damages award by entry of a remittitur if
           the plaintiff objects or does not consent. See, e.g., Haid, 219 Ill.
           App. 3d at 411. A plaintiff's refusal to consent to remittitur will
           result in the ordering of a new trial. See McCausland v.
           Wonderly, 56 Ill. 410 (1870); Congregation of the Passion, Holy
           Cross Province v. Touche Ross & Co., 224 Ill. App. 3d 559,
           588 (1991). As such, the statutory scheme unduly expands the
           remittitur doctrine. See P. Weiss, Reforming Tort Reform: Is
           There Substance to the Seventh Amendment, 38 Cath. U.L. Rev.
           737, 757 (1989).
             We find persuasive the discussion of legislative remittitur
           contained in an opinion of the Supreme Court of Washington,
           Sofie v. Fireboard Corp., 112 Wash. 2d 636, 771 P.2d 711
           (1989). In that case, the court found unconstitutional
           Washington's statutory limit on noneconomic damages. The
           Sofie court held the statutory damages cap unconstitutional on
           the basis that it violated the plaintiffs' right to a trial by jury, an
           issue we do not determine in the instant case. The court's
           secondary discussion, which considered the plaintiffs' separation
           of powers challenge, is instructive to our separation of powers
           analysis.
             In addressing the plaintiffs' arguments that the statutory
           damages cap operated as a "legislative remittitur" in violation of
           the separation of powers doctrine, the Washington Supreme
           Court observed that the statute "directly changes the outcome of
           a jury determination *** by taking a jury's finding of fact and
           altering it to conform to a predetermined formula." Sofie, 112
           Wash. 2d at 653, 771 P.2d at 720. The court observed that
           remittitur is wholly within the power of the trial judge, and it is
           the judge who is empowered to make the legal conclusion, on
           a case-by-case basis, that the jury's damage award is excessive
           in light of the evidence. Consequently, because the "[l]egislature
           cannot make such case-by-case determinations," separation of
           powers concerns would be violated by the "legislative attempt
           to mandate legal conclusions." Sofie, 112 Wash. 2d at 654, 771
           P.2d at 721. Although the Sofie court did not base its decision
           squarely upon separation of powers concerns, the court
           observed, "[T]he [statutory damages] limit may, indeed, violate
           the separation of powers." Sofie, 112 Wash. 2d at 654, 771 P.2d
           at 721.
             In the case at bar, we conclude that section 2--1115.1
           invades the power of the judiciary to limit excessive awards of
           damages. The courts are constitutionally empowered, and indeed
           obligated, to reduce excessive verdicts where appropriate in light
           of the evidence adduced in a particular case. Section 2--1115.1,
           however, reduces damages by operation of law, without regard
           to the specific circumstances of individual jury awards.
           Although legislative limits upon certain types of damages may
           be permitted, such as damages recoverable in statutory causes
           of action, we hold that the cap in section 2--1115.1 violates the
           separation of powers clause of the Illinois Constitution.
             In summary, we hold that the compensatory damages cap
           of section 2--1115.1 violates the constitutional prohibition
           against special legislation and also violates the separation of
           powers clause. Because we have so determined, we decline to
           address the parties' additional arguments questioning the validity
           of section 2--1115.1 as violating the right to a jury trial and the
           right to a certain remedy under the Illinois Constitution.
           
           III. Section 3.5 of the Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act
             Plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the "contribution
           credit" created by Public Act 89--7. This credit is set forth in a
           new provision, section 3.5(a), which has been added to the Joint
           Tortfeasor Contribution Act (740 ILCS 100/3.5(a) (West 1996)).
           Section 3.5(a) provides:
                      "sec. 3.5. Contribution against the plaintiff's
                          employer.
                      (a) If a tortfeasor brings an action for contribution
                          against the plaintiff's employer, the employer's liability
                          for contribution shall not exceed the amount of the
                          employer's liability to the plaintiff under the Workers'
                          Compensation Act or the Workers' Occupational
                          Diseases Act. The tortfeasor seeking contribution from
                          the plaintiff's employer is not entitled to recover money
                          from the employer. The tortfeasor shall receive a credit
                          against his or her liability to the plaintiff in an amount
                          equal to the amount of contribution, if any, for which
                          the employer is found to be liable to that tortfeasor,
                          even if the amount exceeds the employer's liability
                          under the Workers' Compensation Act or the Workers'
                          Occupational Diseases Act." 740 ILCS 100/3.5(a) (West
                          1996).
             The circuit court held that section 3.5(a) violated the due
           process and equal protection clause of the Illinois Constitution
           (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, sec. 2), the right to a certain remedy (Ill.
           Const. 1970, art. I, sec. 12), and the separation of powers
           provision (Ill. Const. 1970, art. II, sec. 1). The court concluded
           that the section would deprive an injured party of "full
           compensation due to [its] constitutional infirmities." The court
           also noted that "working mathematically through different
           scenarios demonstrates that illogical and surely unintended
           results occur from [applying the principles of section 3.5(a)]."
             Initially, we note the fundamental inconsistency between
           section 3.5(a) and the amendments made by Public Act 89--7 to
           section 2--1117 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2--
           1117 (West 1996)). The amended version of section 2--1117
           abolishes the doctrine of joint and several liability in all actions
           brought on account of death, bodily injury to person, or physical
           damage to property. The doctrine of joint and several liability
           is replaced in these actions with proportionate several liability,
           whereby a defendant is liable "only for that proportion of
           recoverable economic and non-economic damages, if any, that
           the amount of that defendant's fault, if any, bears to the
           aggregate amount of fault of all other tortfeasors." 735 ILCS
           5/2--1117 (West 1996).[fn5]  At the same time, however,
           section 2(b) of the Contribution Act, which is unaltered by
           Public Act 89--7, provides that "[t]he right of contribution exists
           only in favor of a tortfeasor who has paid more than his pro rata
           share of the common liability." 740 ILCS 100/2(b) (West 1996).
           Thus, because a tortfeasor is only liable for his or her
           proportionate share of damages as defined by section 2--1117,
           it appears that a tortfeasor would never need, or be able, to
           pursue a contribution action against an employer and, therefore,
           that section 3.5(a) could never be given effect. See R. Michael,
           Joint Liability: Should It Be Reformed or Abolished?--The
           Illinois Experience, 27 Loy. U. Chi. L.J. 867, 910 (1996); S.
           O'Neil, A New Day, The Civil Justice Reform Amendments of
           1995, 9 CBA Rec. at 18, 28 (May 1995) ("Contribution claims
           against employers are now technically unnecessary because a
           defendant's liability is limited to his own percentage of fault");
           see also N.M. Stat. Ann. sec. 41--3A--1(E) (Michie 1996)
           (expressly noting that defendants who are subject to
           proportionate several liability are not entitled to contribution);
           Ind. Code Ann. sec. 34--4--33--7 (Michie 1986).
             The legislature's enactment of section 3.5(a) and
           simultaneous adoption of proportionate several liability in
           section 2--1117 raises a serious question as to whether, on the
           basis of this conflict alone, the section 3.5(a) credit must be
           stricken. We need not resolve this issue, however, for even if we
           assume that the two provisions can coexist, we determine that
           section 3.5(a) is invalid.
             The first sentence of section 3.5(a) states that an employer's
           "liability for contribution" is limited to the amount of the
           employer's liability to the plaintiff under the Workers'
           Compensation Act (820 ILCS 305/1 et seq. (West 1996)), or the
           Workers' Occupational Diseases Act (820 ILCS 310/1 et seq.
           (West 1996)). Standing alone, this sentence would be a
           codification of this court's decision in Kotecki v. Cyclops
           Welding Corp., 146 Ill. 2d 155 (1991). However, the next two
           sentences of section 3.5(a) negate the meaning of the first
           sentence. The second sentence of section 3.5(a) states that a
           tortfeasor seeking contribution from an employer may not
           receive money from that employer. The third sentence then
           begins by stating that the tortfeasor, instead of receiving money,
           will receive a credit for the "amount of contribution" for which
           the employer is "found to be liable" to the tortfeasor. This credit
           is to be applied against the tortfeasor's liability to the plaintiff.
             Because the first sentence of section 3.5(a) limits the
           employer's "liability for contribution" to the employer's
           workers' compensation liability, one might reasonably assume
           that the amount of the credit in the third sentence, which is
           defined as being equal to the "amount of contribution" for which
           the employer is "found to be liable," would also be equal to the
           employer's workers' compensation liability. However, this is not
           the case. The final clause of the third sentence unequivocally
           states that the amount of the credit may exceed the employer's
           workers' compensation liability. Thus, section 3.5(a) is not only
           inconsistent with section 2--1117, it is also internally
           inconsistent: if the second and third sentences of section 3.5(a)
           are given effect, the first sentence is rendered meaningless.
             The internal contradiction within section 3.5(a) further
           suggests that a consistent and intelligible construction of the
           provision may not be possible. Again, however, we need not
           decide whether the section 3.5(a) credit must be invalidated on
           this basis alone. Even if the second and third sentences of
           section 3.5(a) are enforced to the exclusion of the first sentence,
           the credit remains invalid.
             Plaintiffs contend that if the section 3.5(a) credit is given
           effect, then an employee's recovery from a third-party tortfeasor
           will be unjustifiably subjected to a "double reduction." Plaintiffs
           maintain that this double reduction will occur because of the
           combined effect of the section 3.5(a) credit and the
           proportionate several liability of section 2--1117. According to
           plaintiffs, the employee's recovery from the third-party
           tortfeasor would first be reduced by the percentage of the
           employer's comparative fault because section 2--1117 makes the
           defendant only severally liable. Then, because the section 3.5(a)
           credit may exceed the employer's workers' compensation
           liability, the employee's recovery would be reduced again by the
           percentage of the employer's fault. Thus, plaintiffs argue that in
           an action by an employee against a third-party tortfeasor, the
           employee will bear the burden of his employer's fault twice. See
           27 Loy. U. Chi. L.J. at 912.
             As an illustration of how the double reduction would occur
           in practice, plaintiffs offer the following examples. Consider an
           action involving an employee plaintiff, an employer, and a third-
           party tortfeasor. Assume that the plaintiff is awarded $500,000
           in damages and that the tortfeasor and the employer are each
           50% at fault. Pursuant to the amended version of section 2--
           1117, the tortfeasor would be liable only for his or her
           proportionate share of the damages, or $250,000. Then, under
           section 3.5(a), the tortfeasor would obtain a credit against his or
           her liability to the plaintiff in an amount equal to the employer's
           proportionate share of the damages, in this case, 50% or
           $250,000. Thus, because $250,000 minus $250,000 equals zero,
           the tortfeasor would incur no liability to the plaintiff.
             A similar situation occurs when the contributory fault of the
           plaintiff and the employer's fault together equals 50% or more.
           Assume the same verdict of $500,000. Further assume that the
           plaintiff's percentage of contributory fault is 10%, the
           tortfeasor's percentage of fault is 50%, and the employer's
           percentage of fault is 40%. The $500,000 verdict would first be
           reduced by the plaintiff's degree of contributory fault. This
           reduction would be 10% of $500,000, or $50,000. The tortfeasor
           is liable for 50% of the verdict, or $250,000, but then gets a
           credit for the amount of liability allocated to the employer (in
           this example, 40%, or $200,000). Thus, the tortfeasor, whose
           percentage of fault is 50%, is liable for only $50,000, or 10%
           of the total damages.
             Plaintiffs argue that in both of the examples above, the
           employee's recovery from the third-party tortfeasor is subjected
           to a double reduction. Plaintiffs maintain that this double
           reduction is arbitrary and discriminatory, and in violation of
           principles of due process and equal protection.
             Defendants do not contend that the double reduction effect
           is constitutional. Instead, defendants assert that the section 3.5(a)
           credit should be construed in a limited fashion so that the
           double reduction will not occur. Specifically, defendants
           maintain that the section 3.5(a) credit should be available only
           in those situations where the third-party tortfeasor settles with
           the plaintiff for an amount greater than his or her proportionate
           share of liability. In these situations, according to defendants,
           the proportionate several liability of section 2--1117 would not
           apply. Thus, the application of the section 3.5(a) credit to the
           settlement amount would not produce a double reduction.
             We do not believe that this construction of section 3.5(a) is
           permitted by the statute. Under section 3.5(a), a third-party
           tortfeasor seeking contribution from an employer may not
           receive money. Instead, the tortfeasor receives a credit which is
           applied against the tortfeasor's "liability to the plaintiff."
           However, once the tortfeasor settles with the plaintiff, the
           tortfeasor is no longer liable for the plaintiff's damages. Thus,
           if the tortfeasor settles, there is no liability to which the credit
           can be applied. Therefore, under the plain language of the
           statute, section 3.5(a) cannot apply to those situations where the
           third-party tortfeasor settles with the plaintiff. See also 27 Loy.
           U. Chi. L.J. at 910 n.257.
             Defendants also assert that, as a practical matter, the double
           reduction will never occur. They point out that under section 2--
           1117, a tortfeasor will never be liable for more than his or her
           proportionate share of the damages and, therefore, will never
           meet the threshold requirement for contribution. See 740 ILCS
           100/2(b) (West 1992). According to defendants, the double
           reduction effect described by plaintiffs is merely a hypothetical
           event which will not happen in practice.
             Defendants are correct to point out that, logically, the
           section 3.5(a) credit cannot exist in the face of the proportionate
           several liability of section 2--1117, but this fact only serves to
           highlight the conflict between the two provisions. Furthermore,
           while defendants' argument that the section 3.5(a) credit will
           never occur resolves the conflict with section 2--1117 and the
           internal contradiction within section 3.5(a), it also renders the
           second and third sentences of section 3.5(a) a complete nullity,
           in violation of well-established principles of statutory
           construction. See, e.g., Kraft, Inc. v. Edgar, 138 Ill. 2d 178, 189
           (1990) ("A statute should be construed so that no word or
           phrase is rendered superfluous or meaningless"); 2A N. Singer,
           Sutherland on Statutory Construction sec. 46.06 (5th ed.
           1993).[fn6]
             Section 3.5(a) was discussed only briefly during the debate
           on House Bill 20 and the comments which were offered provide
           no guidance in resolving the ambiguities of the provision. See
           89th Ill. Gen. Assem., House Proceedings, February 16, 1995,
           at 53-57, 129-30. Accordingly, we conclude that the credit set
           forth in the second and third sentences of section 3.5(a) is either
           arbitrary and unconstitutional, as plaintiffs propose, or entirely
           superfluous, as defendants propose. In either case, the section
           3.5(a) credit is invalid and must be stricken.
           
           IV. The Abolition of Joint and Several Liability
             The common law doctrine of joint and several liability
           provides, in general, that when two or more defendants
           tortiously contribute to the same, indivisible injury, each
           defendant may be held jointly and severally liable for the entire
           injury. See generally 3 F. Harper, F. James & O. Gray, Torts,
           secs. 10.1, 10.2 (2d ed. 1986); W. Keeton, Prosser & Keeton on
           Torts sec. 47, secs. 50 through 52 (5th ed. 1984); Coney v.
           J.L.G. Industries, Inc., 97 Ill. 2d 104, 119-20 (1983).
           Significantly, under this doctrine, the plaintiff may recover
           compensation for the full amount of the injury from any one of
           defendants responsible for the injury. Coney, 97 Ill. 2d at 119-
           20.
             As noted previously, Public Act 89--7 eliminates the
           doctrine of joint and several liability in all actions brought on
           account of death, bodily injury to person, or physical damage to
           property. In amendments made to section 2--1117 of the Code
           of Civil Procedure, Public Act 89--7 replaces joint and several
           liability with proportionate several liability. The amended
           version of section 2--1117 provides in full:
                      "sec. 2--1117. Several liability.
                      (a) In any action brought on account of death, bodily
                          injury to person, or physical damage to property in
                          which recovery is predicated upon fault as defined in
                          Section 2--1116, a defendant is severally liable only and
                          is liable only for that proportion of recoverable
                          economic and non-economic damages, if any, that the
                          amount of that defendant's fault, if any, bears to the
                          aggregate amount of fault of all other tortfeasors, as
                          defined in Section 2--1116, whose fault was a proximate
                          cause of the death, bodily injury, economic loss, or
                          physical damage to property for which recovery is
                          sought.
                      (b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a),
                          in any healing art malpractice action based on
                          negligence or wrongful death, any defendants found
                          liable shall be jointly and severally liable if the
                          limitations on non-economic damages in Section 2--
                          1115.1 of this Act are for any reason deemed or found
                          to be invalid." 735 ILCS 5/2--1117 (West 1996).
             The circuit court concluded that, with "absolute certainty,"
           section 2--1117 deprives the citizens of Illinois of their right to
           "find a certain remedy in the laws for all injuries and wrongs"
           (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, sec. 12). The court further determined
           that section 2--1117 " `unreasonably mandates an allocation of
           percentages of negligence to nonparties without any kind of
           procedural safeguard' " (quoting Newville v. State of Montana
           Department of Family Services, 267 Mont. 237, 252, 883 P.2d
           793, 802-03 (1994)) and, hence, violates the constitutional right
           to due process (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, sec. 2). The circuit court
           also held that section 2--1117 violates the separation of powers
           provision of the Illinois Constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. II,
           sec. 1) and the courts provision (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, sec.
           1).
             In part III of this opinion, we noted that section 2--1117 is
           fundamentally at odds with the basic principles of the
           Contribution Act and with section 3.5(a). Section 2--1117 also
           directly conflicts with section 4 of the Contribution Act (740
           ILCS 100/4 (West 1996)). Public Act 89--7 amended section 4
           by adding the words "[e]xcept as provided in Section 3.5 of this
           Act." Pub. Act 89--7, eff. March 9, 1995. Section 4 now
           provides:
                      "sec. 4. Rights of Plaintiff Unaffected. Except as
                          provided in Section 3.5 of this Act, a plaintiff's right to
                          recover the full amount of his judgment from any one
                          or more defendants subject to liability in tort for the
                          same injury to person or property, or for wrongful
                          death, is not affected by the provisions of this Act." 740
                          ILCS 100/4 (West 1996).
             Section 4 evidently retains the doctrine of joint and several
           liability because it expressly preserves a plaintiff's right to
           obtain a full recovery of damages from any one or more
           defendants, subject only to section 3.5. See Coney, 97 Ill. 2d at
           123. Yet, at the same time, section 2--1117 unquestionably
           abolishes joint and several liability. See 27 Loy. U. Chi. L.J. at
           910 n.258. The simultaneous adoption and retention of two
           substantive, contradictory doctrines in a single act creates a
           significant obstacle to discerning the legislative intent behind
           Public Act 89--7. Because section 2--1117 and section 4 of the
           Contribution Act are diametrically opposed, any attempt to
           harmonize them would necessarily be futile. Moreover, we
           cannot assume that the retention of section 4 was merely an
           oversight by the legislature because the section itself was
           amended by Public Act 89--7. Hence, the legislature was
           mindful of both section 2--1117 and section 4 at the time Public
           Act 89--7 was passed and was presumptively aware of their
           meanings.
             As with the section 3.5(a) credit, the irreconcilable conflict
           between section 2--1117 and section 4 raises a serious question
           as to whether section 2--1117 can be enforced without
           substantially, and improperly, rewriting Public Act 89--7. See,
           e.g., Kozak v. Retirement Board of the Firemen's Annuity &
           Benefit Fund, 95 Ill. 2d 211, 220 (1983) (statute may not be
           rewritten to make it consistent with the court's view of sound
           public policy). However, we need not resolve this issue. Like
           the section 3.5(a) credit, we believe that even if section 2--1117
           can be considered in isolation, it is invalid.
             Defendants contend that the legislature's adoption of
           proportionate several liability in section 2--1117 is a reasonable
           legislative action, in light of problems which allegedly exist
           with the doctrine of joint and several liability. According to
           defendants, the foremost problem with joint and several liability
           is that it unfairly holds tortfeasors liable for damages which they
           do not cause.[fn7] In an argument dependent upon this
           assertion, defendants also maintain that, under joint and several
           liability, "deep pocket" defendants are improperly forced to bear
           the costs of misconduct caused by others. Defendants assert that
           these costs, which are initially borne by the "deep pocket"
           defendant, are eventually passed on to others in the form of
           higher consumer costs and increased taxes. See also IDC
           Quarterly, at 7 (Second Quarter 1996) (contending that joint and
           several liability inherently gives rise to economic inefficiency
           and that the doctrine creates a "skewing of economic
           incentives"). Defendants maintain that these failings of joint and
           several liability are cured, either partially or fully, by
           proportionate several liability. Therefore, according to
           defendants, the legislature was justified in enacting section 2--
           1117.
             We note that the proposition which defendants offer as the
           primary explanation for abolishing the doctrine of joint and
           several liability, i.e., the assertion that the doctrine requires
           tortfeasors to pay for more damages than they caused, is at odds
           with this court's explanation of joint and several liability in
           Coney, 97 Ill. 2d 104. In Coney, this court was asked to decide,
           inter alia, whether the doctrine of comparative negligence or
           fault necessitated the elimination of joint and several liability.
           Coney, 97 Ill. 2d at 110. The defendant in Coney urged this
           court to abandon joint and several liability, arguing that "[w]ith
           the adoption of comparative negligence where damages are
           apportioned according to each party's fault, *** it is no longer
           rational to hold a defendant liable beyond his share of the total
           damages." Coney, 97 Ill. 2d at 120. The court rejected this
           argument and held that the adoption of comparative negligence
           did not mandate the abolition of joint and several liability. In so
           holding, the Coney court stated:
                      "The feasibility of apportioning fault on a
                          comparative basis does not render an indivisible injury
                          `divisible' for purposes of the joint and several liability
                          rule. A concurrent tortfeasor is liable for the whole of
                          an indivisible injury when his negligence is a proximate
                          cause of that damage. *** The mere fact that it may be
                          possible to assign some percentage figure to the relative
                          culpability of one negligent defendant as compared to
                          another does not in any way suggest that each
                          defendant's negligence is not a proximate cause of the
                          entire indivisible injury." (Emphasis added.) Coney, 97
                          Ill. 2d at 121-22.
           See also Burke v. 12 Rochschild's Liquor Mart, Inc., 148 Ill. 2d
           429, 452-53 (1992) (recognizing that the adoption of
           comparative negligence principles does not alter a joint
           tortfeasor's full responsibility for a plaintiff's single, indivisible
           injury).
             The principle that tortfeasors who are held jointly and
           severally liable are each fully responsible for the entirety of the
           plaintiff's injury has been explained:
               "Joint and several liability only applies to injuries for
                          which the defendant herself is fully responsible. She is
                          responsible for the entirety of some injury only if her
                          tortious behavior was an actual and proximate cause of
                          the entire injury. [Emphasis added.] She is not liable for
                          injuries, including separable portions of injuries, to
                          which she did not contribute. She is not liable unless
                          the tortious aspect of her conduct was an actual cause
                          of the injury. Moreover, even then, she is not liable if,
                          for reasons of policy or principle, her connection to the
                          injury is considered too remote or minimal to be
                          `proximate.'
                      A defendant's individual full responsibility for an
                          injury that was an actual and proximate result of her
                          tortious behavior is not diminished if some other
                          person's tortious behavior also was an actual and
                          proximate cause of the injury. Rather each defendant
                          whose tortious behavior was an actual and proximate
                          cause of the injury is individually fully responsible for
                          the entire injury. This is most obvious when a
                          defendant's tortious behavior was either necessary or
                          independently sufficient for the occurrence of the injury,
                          but it remains true whenever a defendant's tortious
                          behavior was an actual and proximate cause of the
                          injury.
                        * * *
                      [There is a fundamental difference] between each
                          [joint] defendant's individual full responsibility for the
                          damages that she tortiously caused and the comparative
                          responsibility percentages that are obtained by
                          comparing the defendants' individual full
                          responsibilities for the injury. [In situations where two
                          defendants are held jointly and severally liable for
                          negligently injuring a plaintiff] [n]either defendant ***
                          [is] merely `50% negligent' or `50% responsible.' Such
                          statements make as much sense as saying that someone
                          is `50% pregnant.' Nor did either defendant's
                          negligence cause or occasion only 50% of the plaintiff's
                          injury. Rather, each defendant was 100% negligent,
                          each defendant's negligence was an actual and
                          proximate cause of 100% of the injury, and each
                          defendant therefore is fully responsible for the entire
                          injury. Only when we compare their individual full
                          responsibilities, and assume that they were equally
                          negligent, does it make sense to say that each
                          defendant, when compared to the other, bears 50% of
                          the total comparative responsibility for the injury."
                          (Emphasis in original.) R. Wright, The Logic and
                          Fairness of Joint and Several Liability, 23 Memphis St.
                          U.L. Rev. 45, 54-56 (1992).
           See also Restatement (Second) of Torts sec. 875, Comment c,
           at 315 (1979) (under the rules of causation set forth by the
           Restatement, "any one of a number of persons whose tortious
           conduct is a substantial factor in causing harm is liable for the
           harm in the absence of a superseding cause"); Lilly v. Marcal
           Rope & Rigging, Inc., 289 Ill. App. 3d 1105, 1113-16 (1997);
           27 Loy. U. Chi. L.J. at 907-08; 21 U.C. Davis L. Rev. at 1141-
           93.
             This court's reasoning in Coney places into question
           defendants' primary justification for abolishing joint and several
           liability, i.e., that the doctrine requires some defendants to pay
           for more damages than they caused or for which they are
           responsible. We need not resolve, however, the conflict between
           the Coney court's analysis of joint and several liability and
           defendants' justification for abolishing the doctrine. We believe
           that, because of the way in which it is drafted, section 2--1117
           violates the special legislation clause of the Illinois Constitution.
             Section 2--1117 purports to eliminate the doctrine of joint
           and several liability. However, it does not do so completely.
           Paragraph (b) of section 2--1117 automatically reinstates joint
           and several liability for medical malpractice defendants if the
           cap on noneconomic damages in section 2--1115.1 is
           invalidated. Because we have held that the cap on noneconomic
           damages is unconstitutional, section 2--1117(b) has been
           activated.
             The justification for imposing joint and several liability
           upon medical malpractice defendants in the absence of a
           damages cap is not immediately apparent. See J. Zimmerman,
           P. Phillips & J. Bisceglia, A Review of the Illinois Civil Justice
           Reform Act of 1995, 83 Ill. B.J. 282, 285 (1995) ("Neither the
           statutory language preserving joint and several liability in these
           narrow circumstances nor the legislative purpose for doing so
           are clear"). One reason for enacting section 2--1117(b) which
           was given during the debate on House Bill 20 was that section
           2--1117(b) was needed to achieve fairness for plaintiffs bringing
           medical malpractice actions. Representative Cross, in response
           to a question asking whether section 2--1117(b) was intended as
           an exclusive benefit for the medical profession, explained that
           the legislature was "trying to be fair to people that have services
           of ... from [physicians], from nurses, from hospitals, anyone
           associated with the health care industry." 89th Ill. Gen. Assem.,
           House Proceedings, February 16, 1995, at 150 (statements of
           Representative Cross).
              The differences between proportionate several liability and
           joint and several liability can have a significant, practical impact
           upon tort plaintiffs. As one commentator has explained:
                      "If all the tortfeasors are available and solvent, joint
                          and several liability with contribution and proportionate
                          several liability both ultimately achieve the same result:
                          liability is apportioned among the multiple responsible
                          causes according [to] their comparative responsibility.
                          However, two major practical differences exist between
                          joint and several liability and proportionate several
                          liability. Under proportionate several liability, the
                          plaintiff can recover full compensation for his injury
                          only if he locates, sues, and collects from each party
                          who tortiously contributed to his injury. The plaintiff
                          therefore bears a substantial risk of receiving less than
                          full compensation if any tortfeasor is missing, insolvent,
                          or has an expected share of liability that would not be
                          worth the cost of litigation. In addition, the costs in
                          time and dollars of the multiple actions required to
                          obtain theoretically full compensation will substantially
                          delay and reduce the plaintiff's actual net compensation
                          even if all the tortfeasors can be sued successfully.
                          Conversely, under joint and several liability the risk of
                          insolvent or otherwise unavailable tortfeasors and the
                          expense of multiple actions is placed on the solvent
                          tortfeasors, if any, from whom the plaintiff initially
                          obtains compensation. The plaintiff can obtain full
                          compensation in the initial suit, and the tortfeasors who
                          pay the plaintiff must seek contribution or indemnity
                          from the other tortfeasors." U.C. Davis L. Rev. at 1142-
                          43.
           See also Coney, 97 Ill. 2d at 123-24.
             Section 2--1117(b)'s abatement of proportionate several
           liability in the context of medical malpractice arbitrarily benefits
           only medical malpractice plaintiffs. These plaintiffs will not
           have to bring several separate actions to recover full
           compensation for their injuries. Nor will these plaintiffs bear the
           risk of any tortfeasor being insolvent or otherwise unavailable.
           However, other tort plaintiffs, whose injuries are not caused by
           medical malpractice, will face these burdens. Neither the
           plaintiffs nor the defendants in the case at bar have offered any
           explanation as to why a select group of medical malpractice
           plaintiffs should enjoy the practical benefits of joint and several
           liability to the exclusion of all other tort plaintiffs. The
           legislature, of course, may reasonably and justifiably be
           concerned with achieving fairness for tort plaintiffs. But the
           legislature may not adopt an arbitrary means of achieving that
           goal. Grace, 51 Ill. 2d at 485. If, in fact, a real need exists to
           eliminate the harshness of several liability, then logically this
           need exists for all plaintiffs who have suffered physical injury
           or loss of property at the hands of joint tortfeasors, and not just
           medical malpractice plaintiffs. The stated legislative goal of
           achieving fairness does not justify singling out a select group of
           tort plaintiffs for special treatment. Therefore, we conclude that
           section 2--1117(b) arbitrarily and unconstitutionally provides a
           special benefit for medical malpractice plaintiffs. See generally
           Grasse, 412 Ill. 179.
             We further note that section 2--1117(b) contradicts the
           stated purpose for enacting proportionate several liability. The
           preamble to Public Act 89--7 declares that "it is the public
           policy of this State that a defendant should not be liable for
           damages in excess of its proportional share of fault." Plaintiffs
           and defendants both agree that this policy was the basis for the
           adoption of proportionate several liability in section 2--
           1117(a).[fn8] Section 2--1117(b) inexplicably contradicts this
           rationale. If the premise underlying Public Act 89--7's abolition
           of joint and several liability is that the doctrine unfairly permits
           a plaintiff to recover more in damages than is justified from an
           individual defendant then, logically, that unfairness is only
           exacerbated if there is no cap on the total amount of the
           damages which the plaintiff can recover. Thus, the invalidation
           of the cap on noneconomic damages does not justify or explain
           the exemption provided by 2--1117(b) from the general rule of
           several liability.
             In sum, there is no discernable rational basis for treating
           medical malpractice plaintiffs differently from other plaintiffs in
           death, bodily injury and property damage cases. Moreover,
           treating these plaintiffs differently in the absence of a damages
           cap is directly contrary to the legislature's acknowledged
           purpose for enacting proportionate several liability. The
           proscription against special legislation prevents the legislature
           from preferentially and arbitrarily discriminating in favor of a
           select group. Village of Vernon Hills, 168 Ill. 2d at 122.
           Accordingly, we conclude that section 2--1117(b) violates the
           special legislation clause of the Illinois Constitution.
             Plaintiffs contend that section 2--1117(b) cannot be severed
           from section 2--1117(a) and, therefore, that if section 2--1117(b)
           is invalid then all of section 2--1117 must be stricken. For the
           reasons stated more fully in part VI of this opinion, we agree
           that without section 2--1117(b), the remainder of section 2--
           1117 no longer reflects the legislature's intentions regarding the
           scope and nature of its enactment of proportionate several
           liability. See, e.g., Lee v. Retirement Board of the Policeman's
           Annuity & Benefit Fund, 31 Ill. 2d 252 (1964). Therefore, we
           hold that section 2--1117(b) cannot be severed from section 2--
           1117(a) and that the entirety of section 2--1117 is
           unconstitutional.
           
           
           V. Constitutionality of the Physician-Patient Disclosure Rules
             We next consider the constitutionality of certain provisions
           of Public Act 89--7 that significantly alter existing discovery
           practice in Illinois. Section 2--1003(a) of the Act imposes a
           mandatory consent requirement by which every patient who files
           a personal injury lawsuit is deemed to agree to the unlimited
           disclosure of his or her medical history, records, and other
           medical information to any party who has appeared in the action
           and who requests such information. 735 ILCS 5/2--1003(a)
           (West 1996). Section 2--1003, which is entitled "Discovery and
           depositions" sets forth the disclosure requirements in
           detail.[fn9] If the plaintiff fails to supply the requested consent
           form within 28 days, the court is required, upon motion of a
           defendant, to compel the plaintiff's compliance or to issue an
           order of involuntary dismissal of the plaintiff's action. The
           mandatory consent of section 2--1003 operates as a waiver of
           any privilege between the injured person and each health care
           provider who has furnished care at any time. The consent or
           waiver extends to ex parte conferences between the plaintiff's
           treating physicians or other health care personnel and the
           defendant and his or her representatives. As such, section 2--
           1003(a) is directly contrary to what has been referred to as the
           "Petrillo doctrine," which prohibits defendants and their
           attorneys from engaging in ex parte discussions with the injured
           plaintiff's treating physicians. Petrillo v. Syntex Laboratories,
           Inc., 148 Ill. App. 3d 581 (1986).
             We note that the prior version of section 2--1003 consisted
           of five paragraphs, the first of which provided in its entirety:
           "Discovery, admissions of fact and of genuineness of documents
           and answers to interrogatories shall be in accordance with
           rules." 735 ILCS 5/2--1003(a) (West 1992). This provision has
           been retained as subsection (a--1) of the amended statute and the
           remaining provisions of the prior statute have also been retained.
           Public Act 89--7 adds a new subsection to the discovery and
           depositions statute, which provides in its entirety:
                      "(a) Any party who by pleading alleges any claim for
                          bodily injury or disease, including mental health injury
                          or disease, shall be deemed to waive any privilege
                          between the injured person and each health care
                          provider who has furnished care at any time to the
                          injured person. `Health care provider' means any person
                          or entity who delivers or has delivered health care
                          services, including diagnostic services, and includes, but
                          is not limited to, physicians, psychologists,
                          chiropractors, nurses, mental health workers, therapists,
                          and other healing art practitioners. Any party alleging
                          any such claim for bodily or mental health injury or
                          disease shall, upon written request of any other party
                          who has appeared in the action, sign and deliver within
                          28 days to the requesting party a separate Consent
                          authorizing each person or entity who has provided
                          health care at any time to the allegedly injured person
                          to:
                        (1) furnish the requesting party or the party's
                                 attorney a complete copy of the chart or record of
                                 health care in the possession of the provider,
                                 including reports sent to any third party, including
                                 any records generated by other health care providers
                                 and in the possession of the health care provider, and
                                 including radiographic films of any type;
                        (2) permit the requesting party or the party's
                                 attorney to inspect the original chart or record of
                                 health care during regular business hours and at the
                                 regular business location of the health care provider,
                                 upon written request made not less than 7 days prior
                                 to the inspection;
                        (3) accept and consider charts and other records of
                                 health care by others, radiographic films, and
                                 documents, including reports, deposition transcripts,
                                 and letters, furnished to the health care provider by
                                 the requesting party or the party's attorney, before
                                 giving testimony in any deposition or trial or other
                                 hearing;
                        (4) confer with the requesting party's attorney
                                 before giving testimony in any deposition or trial or
                                 other hearing and engage in discussion with the
                                 attorney on the subjects of the health care provider's
                                 observations related to the allegedly injured party's
                                 health, including the following: the patient history,
                                 whether charted or otherwise recorded or not; the
                                 health care provider's opinions related to the patient's
                                 state of health, prognosis, etiology, or cause of the
                                 patient's state of health at any time, and the nature
                                 and quality of care by other health care providers,
                                 including whether any standard of care was or was
                                 not breached; and the testimony the health care
                                 provider would give in response to any point of
                                 interrogation, and the education, experience, and
                                 qualifications of the health care provider.
                      The form of the Consent furnished pursuant to this
                          subsection (a) shall recite that it is signed and delivered
                          under the authority of this subsection. Any variation in
                          the form of the Consent required by any health care
                          provider, not subject to the jurisdiction of the circuit
                          court before which the action is pending, to whom a
                          request is directed under subdivision (1) or (2) of this
                          subsection (a) shall be accepted by the allegedly injured
                          party and the revised form requested by the health care
                          provider shall be signed and delivered to the requesting
                          party within 28 days after it is tendered for signature.
                      All documents and information obtained pursuant to
                          a Consent shall be considered confidential. Disclosure
                          may be made only to the parties to the action, their
                          attorneys, their insurers' representatives, and witnesses
                          and consultants whose testimony concerns medical
                          treatment prognosis, or rehabilitation, including expert
                          witnesses.
                      A request for a Consent under this subsection (a) does
                          not preclude such subsequent requests as may
                          reasonably be made seeking to expand the scope of an
                          earlier Consent which was limited to less than all the
                          authority permitted by subdivisions (1) through (4) of
                          this subsection (a) or seeking additional Consents for
                          other health care providers.
                      The provisions of this subsection (a) do not restrict
                          the right of any party to discovery pursuant to rule.
                      Should a plaintiff refuse to timely comply with a
                          request for signature and delivery of a consent permitted
                          by this subsection (a) the court, on motion, shall issue
                          an order authorizing disclosure to the party or parties
                          requesting said consent of all records and information
                          mentioned herein or order the cause dismissed pursuant
                          to Section 2--619(a)(9)." 735 ILCS 5/2--1003(a) (West
                          1996).
             In the case at bar, plaintiffs challenged the medical
           disclosure requirements in the circuit court on several grounds,
           arguing that section 2--1003(a) violates separation of powers,
           the right to privacy, the right to certain remedy and access to
           the courts, and the prohibition against special legislation. The
           circuit court ruled that section 2--1003(a) and the corollary
           provisions of Public Act 89--7 unduly encroach on the authority
           of the judiciary and conflict with present supreme court rules.
           The court also held that the provisions violate the "fundamental
           right to privacy and access to the courts enjoyed by the citizens
           of this state," and that there was not "a rational basis for
           requiring a citizen to reveal medical conditions unrelated to the
           litigation in which she is engaged." The circuit court further
           observed that mandating plaintiffs' consent to unlimited
           disclosure of confidential medical information unrelated to the
           injury on which the lawsuit was brought would "likely force
           many persons to avoid the courthouse to redress their wrongs."
           The circuit court specifically upheld "Petrillo [as] well-reasoned
           law which protects the rights outlined above" and concluded that
           the "usual discovery procedures and the Supreme Court rules
           together" provide defendants with adequate opportunity to test
           plaintiffs' allegations.
             This court has declared section 2--1003(a) unconstitutional
           in Kunkel v. Walton, No. 81176 (November 20, 1997), a case
           which, we note, was under advisement at the same time as the
           case at bar. The parties incorporate by reference the arguments
           made in Kunkel, which include several amici curiae briefs filed
           on behalf of defendants. We have reviewed all of the briefs filed
           in this court which relate to the constitutionality of section 2--
           1003(a). Of the various constitutional challenges made to this
           provision, we resolve its constitutionality primarily upon the
           separation of powers doctrine. We also consider plaintiffs'
           argument that the Illinois Constitution of 1970 grants a privacy
           interest to the citizens of this state and, as part of that analysis,
           we examine the reasoning of the appellate court in Petrillo.
           
               A. Separation of Powers
             As we have noted elsewhere in this opinion, the separation
           of powers clause of the Illinois Constitution provides that each
           branch of government is separate and may not exercise the
           powers of another branch. Ill. Const. 1970, art. II, sec. 1; People
           v. Warren, 173 Ill. 2d 348 (1996); Murneigh v. Gainer, 177 Ill.
           2d 287. The judicial power is vested in the supreme court, the
           appellate court, and the circuit courts. Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI,
           sec. 1. In addition, the judicial article of the constitution vests
           this court with supervisory and rulemaking authority over the
           judicial system of Illinois. See Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, sec. 16.
           It is the constitutional duty of this court to preserve the integrity
           and independence of the judiciary and to protect the judicial
           power from encroachment by the other branches of government.
           People v. Davis, 93 Ill. 2d 155, 161 (1982). See also People v.
           Joseph, 113 Ill. 2d 36 (1986); People v. Flores, 104 Ill. 2d 40,
           49 (1984).
             In the case at bar, plaintiffs maintain that section 2--1003(a)
           violates the separation of powers clause because the statute
           abrogates the judiciary's inherent authority to restrict discovery
           to relevant information and to provide appropriate sanctions for
           discovery abuses. Specifically, section 2--1003(a) provides that
           the circuit court "shall issue an order authorizing disclosure to
           the party or parties requesting said consent of all records and
           information mentioned herein or order the cause dismissed
           pursuant to Section 2--619(a)(9)." (Emphasis added.) 735 ILCS
           5/2--1003(a) (West 1996). Plaintiffs contend that this mandatory
           directive upon the circuit courts unduly infringes upon the
           powers of the judiciary because it not only undercuts the
           inherent authority of the courts in the exercise of judicial
           functions but also directly conflicts with certain discovery rules
           of this court.
             Defendants maintain that the challenged provision serves the
           important societal function of expediting discovery and
           curtailing potential abuses of the discovery process by
           unscrupulous plaintiffs or attorneys who do not disclose all facts
           necessary for defendants to prepare a defense. Defendants
           further observe that this court has often recognized the
           legislature's power to regulate practice and procedure. See, e.g.,
           People v. Walker, 119 Ill. 2d 465 (1988); DeLuna v. St.
           Elizabeth's Hospital, 147 Ill. 2d 57 (1992). According to
           defendants, there is no conflict between section 2--1003(a) and
           the rules of this court which pertain to discovery procedures.
           Defendants contend that the circuit courts remain free to issue
           protective orders or discovery sanctions as needed to curtail
           abuses of the discovery process.
             We agree with plaintiffs that section 2--1003(a) creates an
           irreconcilable conflict with the inherent authority of the
           judiciary. Although we acknowledge that the legislature may, in
           some instances, share concurrent power with this court to
           prescribe procedural rules governing discovery (see, e.g.,
           O'Connell v. St. Francis Hospital, 112 Ill. 2d 273, 281 (1986);
           Niven v. Siqueira, 109 Ill. 2d 357, 368 (1985)), "we have not
           hesitated to strike down those procedural legislative enactments
           which unduly infringe upon our constitutional rule-making
           authority" to regulate the judicial system of Illinois. O'Connell
           v. St. Francis Hospital, 112 Ill. 2d 273, 281 (1986).
             In O'Connell, this court reaffirmed the established principle
           that where a statutory procedure conflicts with a rule of this
           court relating to the same procedure, the rule necessarily
           prevails. This court held that provisions of the Code of Civil
           Procedure which permitted plaintiffs to nonsuit their actions and
           then to commence a new action within a year following such
           dismissal unduly infringed upon the judiciary's powers, to the
           extent that the procedures allowed a plaintiff to avoid
           compliance with Supreme Court Rule 103(b) (134 Ill. 2d R.
           103(b)). Rule 103(b) requires reasonable diligence in the service
           of process and specifies the consequences which result from a
           plaintiff's untimely service of process, either before or after the
           expiration of the statute of limitations. Because the statutory
           provisions under review in O'Connell gave the plaintiff an
           unconditional right to take a voluntary dismissal and to refile
           within a year of such dismissal, without regard to the expiration
           of the limitations period and without regard to the diligence
           provision of Rule 103(b), this court held that the statutes
           impermissibly conflicted with the rule.
             In Gibellina v. Handley, 127 Ill. 2d 122 (1989), this court
           reaffirmed its authority to manage the court system by
           prohibiting an abuse of certain procedures, even though the
           statutes in issue did not directly conflict with a supreme court
           rule. The Gibellina court prospectively limited plaintiffs'
           statutory right to dismiss their actions and refile within one year,
           where, prior to the plaintiff's motion for voluntary dismissal, the
           defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. This court
           determined that a plaintiff should not be permitted to abuse the
           statutory right to refile a nonsuited action within a year where
           a defendant files a motion that would dispose of the lawsuit on
           the merits. Accordingly, the Gibellina court upheld its authority
           to manage the court system of Illinois and to cure an abusive
           use of civil procedures which had burdened the courts and
           infringed upon the judiciary's ability to discharge its duties
           fairly and expeditiously.
             In a different context, this court has reaffirmed the inherent
           power of the judiciary to exercise certain judicial functions, such
           as the power of contempt, without being bound by legislative
           regulation of such power. In Murneigh, 177 Ill. 2d 287, a
           statutory and administrative blood-collection scheme provided
           that judges "shall" enter orders requiring incarcerated sex
           offenders to give blood specimens. The scheme further required
           the courts to punish the violation of such compliance orders as
           contempt of court. We ruled that the provisions in issue violated
           separation of powers principles by conscripting the judiciary into
           the service of an essentially administrative function and by
           mandating the courts to enter contempt sanctions. Murneigh, 177
           Ill. 2d at 313. This in turn intruded upon the judiciary's inherent
           and essential power of contempt, a power held exclusively by
           the judiciary. See also Agran v. Checker Taxi Co., 412 Ill. 145
           (1952); Wright, 63 Ill. 2d 313.
             In the case at bar, as in Murneigh, the challenged legislation
           provides that the courts shall enter an order of compliance and
           further prescribes the sole sanction to be imposed if compliance
           is not met. Section 2--1003(a) directs that if a plaintiff fails to
           furnish the requested consent form within 28 days, "the court,
           on motion, shall issue an order authorizing disclosure to the
           party or parties requesting said consent of all records and
           information mentioned herein or order the case dismissed
           pursuant to section 2--619(a)(9)." The language of this section
           is mandatory rather than permissive. Therefore, section 2--
           1003(a) obligates the courts of this state to become party to the
           forced disclosure of confidential medical information even if
           such material is wholly unrelated to the lawsuit in issue, or, if
           the plaintiff refuses to comply, to enter an order of involuntary
           dismissal.
             Because involuntary dismissals are considered to be
           adjudications on the merits (134 Ill. 2d R. 273), a plaintiff
           injured through the fault of another would lose his or her right
           of action as the penalty for not consenting to the blanket
           disclosure of all confidential medical information, irrespective
           of how irrelevant to the lawsuit and however personal, sensitive,
           or embarrassing the confidential medical information may be to
           the plaintiff.
             Defendants rely on cases in which this court has upheld as
           constitutional certain legislative regulations of procedure and the
           filing of claims. For example, in People v. Williams, 124 Ill. 2d
           300 (1988), this court held that a statute which provided for the
           substitution of judges did not unduly encroach on the powers of
           the judiciary. Similarly, defendants assert, this court has upheld
           statutes requiring the filing of certain materials as a prerequisite
           for obtaining judicial relief. See DeLuna v. St. Elizabeth's
           Hospital, 147 Ill. 2d 57 (1992) (requiring health care provider's
           affidavit certifying that plaintiff's medical malpractice claim had
           merit); People ex rel. County Collector v. Jeri, Ltd., 40 Ill. 2d
           293 (1968) (requiring that a transcript of evidence relating to the
           trial court's findings be attached to the order of tax deed).
             We believe that the particular statutes upheld by this court
           in the above-cited cases withstood constitutional scrutiny for
           reasons not present in the instant case. In Williams, the
           provision allowing for a substitution of judges in certain
           instances caused only a minimal encroachment upon judicial
           authority and did not prevent the courts from deciding cases or
           managing their dockets. In Jeri, the requirement that a transcript
           of evidence be attached to the order for tax deed was part of a
           purely statutory proceeding and its purpose was to safeguard
           against fraud. The challenged provision did not impede the
           courts in the performance of their functions and therefore did
           not violate separation of powers principles. In DeLuna, the
           certificate of merit requirement was found, inter alia, to be
           reasonably related to the legislative goal of discouraging the
           filing of frivolous medical malpractice actions by imposing the
           threshold requirement that a plaintiff obtain an expert medical
           opinion that his or her claim had merit. DeLuna, 147 Ill. 2d at
           75. Unlike the mandatory consent and disclosure requirements
           of section 2--1003(a), the medical malpractice certificate of
           merit requirement upheld in DeLuna may be viewed as directly
           relevant, and explicitly tailored, to the plaintiff's cause of action.
           The certificate of merit requirement did not extend to medical
           information or expert opinion relating to health conditions of the
           plaintiff which were unrelated to the subject matter of the
           medical malpractice complaint. We conclude that the cases cited
           by defendants are distinguishable from the circumstances of the
           case at bar and are therefore inapposite.
             Evaluating the relevance of discovery requests and limiting
           such requests to prevent abuse or harassment are, we believe,
           uniquely judicial functions. Similarly, the court's imposition of
           sanctions for a party's failure to comply with legitimate
           discovery requests in a timely fashion is an inherently judicial
           power. However, nothing in the express terms of section 2--
           1003(a) authorizes the circuit courts to assess the relevance of
           discovery or limit the scope of the defendant's demand for
           unlimited disclosure of all medical information in the possession
           of anyone who provided health care to the plaintiff at any time.
           To the extent that a statute unduly interferes with the exercise
           of inherently judicial functions or powers, the statute cannot
           prevail. See Gibellina, 127 Ill. 2d 122. We believe that section
           2--1003(a) impermissibly interferes with the inherently judicial
           authority to manage the orderly discovery of information
           relevant to specific cases. Therefore, the statute violates the
           separation of powers clause of the Illinois Constitution.
             The judicial authority to limit discovery requests and to
           impose sanctions for discovery violations is, moreover, expressly
           embodied in the discovery rules of this court. Supreme Court
           Rule 201(a) contains the general statement that "[i]nformation
           is obtainable as provided in these rules." 166 Ill. 2d R. 201(a).
           The requirement that discovery requests be relevant to the
           subject matter of the litigation is specified in Rule 201(b) (166
           Ill. 2d R. 201(b)). Rule 201(c)(1) prescribes the procedures for
           obtaining protective orders as a means of preventing abuse. 166
           Ill. 2d R. 201(c)(1). In addition, Rule 219 provides the circuit
           courts with a range of options for imposing sanctions for a
           party's failure to comply with the discovery rules of this court
           or with orders of the circuit court pertaining to discovery. 166
           Ill. 2d R. 219.
             Rule 201(b)(1) provides, "Except as provided in these rules,
           a party may obtain by discovery full disclosure regarding any
           matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending
           action ***." (Emphasis added.) 166 Ill. 2d R. 201(b)(1). This
           rule expressly limits a party's right of "full disclosure" to
           matters which are relevant to the subject matter of the pending
           lawsuit. In contrast, section 2--1003(a) omits any mention of
           relevance in the consent requirements. Indeed, the statute
           contemplates maximum disclosure of confidential medical
           information, without regard to whether the information is
           relevant to the particular injuries upon which the plaintiff's
           lawsuit is based. The statute provides that a plaintiff must waive
           "any privilege between the injured person and each health care
           provider who has furnished care at any time to the injured
           person." (Emphasis added.) 735 ILCS 5/2--1003(a) (West 1996).
           The unlimited scope of defendants' discovery in section 2--
           1003(a) therefore creates a direct conflict with Rule 201(b),
           which embodies an express rule of relevance regarding matters
           obtainable through discovery. Such conflict is resolved in favor
           of the rule of this court. See, e.g., O'Connell, 112 Ill. 2d 273.
             For similar reasons, we hold that section 2--1003(a)
           conflicts with Supreme Court Rule 201(c)(1), which governs the
           issuance of protective orders. Rule 201(c)(1) provides: "The
           court may at any time on its own initiative, or on motion of any
           party or witness, make a protective order as justice requires,
           denying, limiting, conditioning, or regulating discovery to
           prevent unreasonable annoyance, expense, embarrassment,
           disadvantage, or oppression." 166 Ill. 2d R. 201. In contrast,
           section 2--1003(a) fails to provide any means by which the
           circuit court may deny a disclosure request or narrow the scope
           of the consent. By its terms, therefore, the statute does not
           permit the circuit court to issue a protective order. Therefore,
           the statute conflicts with Rule 201(c)(1).
             Section 2--1003(a) also fails to explicitly accommodate or
           recognize the judge's discretion to impose a discovery sanction
           other than a dismissal on the merits if the plaintiff fails to
           comply with the consent requirement. Supreme Court Rule 219
           enumerates a range of noninclusive sanctions to address
           discovery violations and abuses, including the award of
           expenses, the barring of a witness, the suppression of otherwise
           discoverable information as a sanction for abuse, the striking of
           any or all pleadings relating to an issue, and other options for
           the circuit court to choose in the exercise of its sound discretion.
           Because section 2--1003(a) directs the circuit court's selection
           of just one sanction for a plaintiff's noncompliance with the
           consent request--involuntary dismissal--the statute conflicts with
           Rule 219 as well as the previously discussed provisions of Rule
           201. Accordingly, we conclude that section 2--1003(a) violates
           the separation of powers clause of the Illinois Constitution
           because the statute directly conflicts with the discovery
           procedures that have been expressly promulgated as rules of this
           court pursuant to its constitutional rulemaking authority.
             Defendants insist that nothing in section 2--1003(a)
           precludes a plaintiff from filing, and the circuit court from
           granting, a protective order pursuant to Supreme Court Rule
           201(c). In fact, during oral argument of Kunkel v. Walton, No.
           81176, attorneys for the defendants and for the Attorney
           General, as intervenor, contended that circuit court judges
           remain free to enter protective orders and to enter sanctions
           other than dismissal, despite the fact that such measures are not
           included within the express terms of section 2--1003(a). The
           defendants contend that section 2--1003(a) does not conflict with
           this court's rules and may be construed in a constitutional
           manner. For the reasons stated below, however, we believe that
           the defendants' proposed construction of section 2--1003(a) is
           inconsistent with the plain terms and intent of the mandatory
           consent and disclosure requirements, and we therefore reject as
           untenable the defendants' attempt to harmonize section 2--
           1003(a) with this court's rules. We further determine that the
           defendants' proposed construction of the statute does not cure
           the separation of powers violation created by the application of
           the statute.
             To evaluate the defendants' statutory construction argument,
           we again look to the specific language in the statute and the
           reasonable inferences that may be drawn therefrom. As we have
           already determined, the plain terms of the statute do not
           encompass any explicit procedures by which a plaintiff may
           object to the request for unlimited consent to the disclosure of
           confidential medical information. Nor does the statute refer to
           the court's authority to enter protective orders to prevent
           discovery abuses under Rule 201(c)(1), or to enter any sanctions
           other than dismissal of a plaintiff's action. Accordingly, we
           conclude that under a "plain terms" construction of section 2--
           1003(a), the statute cannot reasonably be construed as allowing
           the circuit court to limit the scope of a consent request through
           protective orders. In light of the express requirements of the
           statute, the circuit court is not permitted to impose a sanction
           for noncompliance other than dismissal of the plaintiff's cause
           of action.
             The defendants nonetheless argue that the statute may be
           construed to permit the circuit court judges to retain discretion
           over the scope of the discovery because of the following
           sentence in section 2--1003(a): "The provisions of this
           subsection (a) do not restrict the right of any party to discovery
           pursuant to rule."[fn10]
             In our view, this sentence does not support the defendants'
           argument that section 2--1003(a) may be construed as permitting
           the circuit court to enter protective orders and to impose
           discretionary sanctions for noncompliance. The quoted sentence
           does not incorporate any limits or rules that might narrow the
           scope of the consent requirements of the statute. Instead, the
           quoted sentence refers to a party's general right to obtain
           discovery pursuant to this court's rules. To read in limiting
           language which is not expressly included in the framework of
           section 2--1003(a) is to create a contradiction within the statute
           itself. For example, if a plaintiff sought a protective order
           requesting the court to prohibit defense counsel from engaging
           in ex parte conferences with the plaintiff's treating physician,
           the court would be required to either (1) ignore the express
           language of the statute or (2) determine that, because of the
           sentence quoted above, the court retained discretion to determine
           that an ex parte conference was an abuse of discovery. The
           dilemma facing such a court is obvious: the court must apply
           the statute as written, or else adopt an expansive interpretation
           that would defeat the essential purpose and express language of
           the statute. Allowing courts to freely limit the scope of the
           mandatory consent requirement would thwart the legislative
           intent to permit the broadest possible disclosure of medical
           information and to authorize unlimited ex parte conferences with
           the plaintiff's treating health care practitioners. Therefore, we
           reject the defendants' statutory construction analysis as contrary
           to the plain terms and intent of the provision.
             But even if we were to accept the statutory construction
           proposed by the defendants, there is a remaining flaw in the
           analysis which underscores the separation of powers concerns
           previously identified. A discovery procedure which authorizes
           unlimited disclosure of information in the first instance, subject
           only to particularized protective orders, shifts a significant
           burden to the courts of this state to repeatedly assess and limit,
           through entry of protective orders, discovery requests that may
           well be overbroad on their face. The expansive impact of the
           statutory consent requirements virtually demands that plaintiffs'
           attorneys file motions for protective orders as a matter of course
           whenever a consent form is requested by defense counsel.
           Although the judiciary is the proper entity to determine the need
           for protective orders, on a case-by-case basis, one of the effects
           of section 2--1003(a) is to create an assembly line of overbroad
           discovery requests followed by motions for protective orders.
           We believe, therefore, that section 2--1003(a) impermissibly
           burdens and significantly infringes upon the inherent judicial
           powers that are constitutionally granted to the courts. See, e.g.,
           Murneigh, 177 Ill. 2d 287 (rejecting legislative mandate that the
           contempt power be used to facilitate administrative or executive
           scheme); People v. Joseph, 113 Ill. 2d 36 (1986) (striking
           statute requiring all post-conviction proceedings to be conducted
           by judge who was not involved in original proceeding as
           encroaching upon court administration); People v. Flores, 104
           Ill. 2d 40, 49 (1984) (invalidating statute which interfered with
           the ability of a trial judge to control his own docket after the
           trial of a cause had begun); see also Gibellina, 127 Ill. 2d 122.
           It is the duty of this court to invalidate legislation that
           significantly burdens or otherwise curtails the inherent and
           constitutionally granted authority of the judiciary. See Davis, 93
           Ill. 2d at 161. Accordingly, we hold that section 2--1003(a) is
           invalid as violating the separation of powers clause of the
           Illinois Constitution.
           
           B. Right to Privacy and The Petrillo Doctrine
             We next consider plaintiffs' argument that section 2--
           1003(a) violates the privacy rights of Illinois citizens. In support
           of this argument, plaintiffs cite to the two clauses in the Illinois
           Constitution which expressly refer to privacy. See Ill. Const.
           1970, art. I, secs. 6, 12. They further ground their privacy
           argument in the Petrillo doctrine, which recognized a strong
           public policy in preserving the confidential and fiduciary
           physician-patient relationship and held that such public policy
           is violated by ex parte communications between defendants or
           their counsel and plaintiffs' treating physicians.
             Defendants counter that there is no constitutional right to
           privacy in medical information under federal or state decisions.
           Furthermore, the defendants argue, the branch of government
           charged with declaring the public policy of this state is the
           legislature. According to defendants, the legislature acted well
           within its authority in providing for ex parte conferences
           between the plaintiff's health care practitioners and
           representatives of the defendants. Finally, defendants posit that
           the Petrillo doctrine was never expressly adopted by this court
           and that the legislature is free to overturn it.
              In 1970, the Illinois Constitution was amended to include
           two separate provisions which expressly refer to a citizen's
           expectations of privacy. Section 12 of the Illinois Constitution's
           Bill of Rights provides that "[e]very person shall find a certain
           remedy in the laws for all injuries and wrongs which he receives
           to his person, privacy, property or reputation. He shall obtain
           justice by law, freely, completely, and promptly." (Emphasis
           added.) Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, sec. 12. Section 6 of the Illinois
           Bill of Rights states, "The people shall have the right to be
           secure in their persons, houses, papers and other possessions
           against unreasonable *** invasions of privacy ***." Ill. Const.
           1970, art. I, sec. 6.[fn11]
             The Constitutional Commentary to section 6 of the Bill of
           Rights explains that "[t]he protection against `invasion of
           privacy' is new and is stated broadly" and "expands upon the
           individual rights which were contained in Section 6 of Article
           II of the 1870 Constitution and the guarantees of the Fourth and
           Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution." Ill.
           Ann. Stat., 1970 Const., art. I, sec. 6, Constitutional
           Commentary, at 522 (Smith-Hurd 1997). With reference to
           section 6, this court has observed that "[b]ecause the Illinois
           Constitution recognizes a zone of privacy, the protections
           afforded by the Illinois Constitution go beyond the guarantees
           of the Federal Constitution. In re May 1991 Will County Grand
           Jury (1992), 152 Ill. 2d 381." King v. Ryan, 153 Ill. 2d 449, 464
           (1992); see also Fink v. Ryan, 174 Ill. 2d 302 (1996); cf. People
           v. DiGuida, 152 Ill. 2d 104, 119 (1992) (referring to a 1984
           decision in which this court indicated it would interpret section
           6 of the Illinois Bill of Rights as consistent with its counterpart,
           the fourth amendment to the federal constitution). This court has
           stated that governmental conduct or "state action" must be
           present before a citizen claiming a violation of the privacy right
           referenced in section 6 of the Illinois Bill of Rights may obtain
           relief. See Barr v. Kelso-Burnett Co., 106 Ill. 2d 520, 526
           (1985) (rejecting plaintiff's argument that employer's alleged
           violation of free speech, equal protection, due process, and
           privacy rights provided a proper foundation on which to premise
           plaintiff's action for retaliatory discharge); see also People v.
           DiGuida, 152 Ill. 2d at 121-24 (rejecting defendant's free speech
           and free elections challenge as a means to challenge his
           conviction for criminal trespass to private store owner's land).
             In considering section 6 of the Illinois Bill of Rights in
           conjunction with section 12, this court has stated that the
           "constitutional right to be free from governmental invasions of
           privacy [in section 6] is supplemented by the constitutional right
           to a certain remedy for invasions or injuries to one's privacy
           provided for in article I, section 12, of the Illinois Constitution
           of 1970." In re A Minor, 149 Ill. 2d 247, 256 (1992). In Minor,
           a news organization attending a juvenile court hearing sought
           permission to disclose the names of the minor victims of abuse.
           Pursuant to a provision of the Juvenile Court Act, the circuit
           court prohibited the newspaper from disclosing the identities of
           the minor victims. The newspaper appealed. This court affirmed,
           holding that the statutory provision which permitted the news
           media to attend hearings closed to the general public did not
           grant the media a right to disclose the minor victims' names.
           This court held that the circuit court's order barring disclosure
           of the victims' identities was not an unconstitutional prior
           restraint on the freedom of the press. Minor, 149 Ill. 2d at 253-
           57. After citing the two privacy clauses of the Illinois
           Constitution, the court determined that the minor victims had a
           compelling privacy interest at stake. Minor, 149 Ill. 2d at 255.
           In reviewing the history of section 12 of the Illinois Bill of
           Rights, the Minor court held it does not require the presence of
           state action. The court concluded,
               "It is clear from the debates in the Sixth Illinois
                          Constitutional Convention that article I, section 12, was
                          intended to protect an individual's privacy from
                          invasions or injuries caused by another nongovernmental
                          individual or company. 3 Record of Proceedings, Sixth
                          Illinois Constitutional Convention 1531-32." (Emphasis
                          in original.) Minor, 149 Ill. 2d at 256 . 
             Consistent with this court's holding in the Minor case, we
           recognize that section 12 of the Illinois Constitution, unlike
           section 6, does not require state action before its protections are
           activated. However, the precise nature and scope of the privacy
           interest set forth in section 12 has not been the subject of much
           case law in this state. Plaintiffs cite cases in which a
           constitutional right to privacy was found in bank records
           (People v. Jackson, 116 Ill. App. 3d 430, 434-35 (1983)) and
           telephone records (People v. DeLaire, 240 Ill. App. 3d 1012,
           1020 (1993); cf. People v. Smith, 72 Ill. App. 3d 956, 964
           (1979)). In addition, plaintiffs rely on Petrillo for the
           proposition that the "privacy rights of individual patients" and
           the "confidential and fiduciary relationship existing between
           patients and their physicians" are compelling interests deserving
           of protection for reasons of public policy. Petrillo, 148 Ill. App.
           3d at 607. 
             In Petrillo, a product liability action, defense counsel
           informed the trial court that he had previously met in private
           with a treating physician for one of the 26 plaintiffs in the case.
           Upon learning of the meeting, plaintiffs' counsel moved to bar
           any future ex parte communications between defense counsel
           and any other physician. The trial court granted the motion and
           entered an order to that effect. Defense counsel, however,
           informed the court that he did not intend to comply with the
           order. The trial court, therefore, held the attorney in direct
           contempt, and the attorney appealed. 
             In affirming the trial court's order, the appellate court
           initially noted that ex parte conferences were not necessary to
           obtain information for defending a lawsuit because the discovery
           methods outlined by Supreme Court Rule 201 were sufficient.
           The court determined that a review of case law from other
           jurisdictions revealed that there was not a single instance in
           which a court found that an ex parte conference was necessary
           to assist defense counsel in obtaining information that they were
           unable to acquire through "regular channels of discovery."
           Petrillo, 148 Ill. App. 3d at 587. 
             The Petrillo court emphasized that society places a high
           value on the professional duties under which a physician
           operates, including the dual duties of confidentiality and loyalty.
           Petrillo, 148 Ill. App. 3d at 589-92. The court noted that certain
           conduct could be against public policy even in the absence of an
           express constitutional or statutory prohibition because public
           policy could be inferred from such sources as statutes or
           constitutions. Reasoning that there exists a strong public policy
           in preserving the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship
           and acknowledging the plaintiff's privacy interests, the court
           determined that ex parte conferences unduly threatened society's
           interest in maintaining the fiduciary and confidential nature of
           the relationship. Petrillo, 148 Ill. App. 3d at 589-96.
           Accordingly, the court held that ex parte conferences between
           a plaintiff's physician and defendant or his counsel should not
           be permitted. Petrillo, 148 Ill. App. 3d at 596.
             In the years following the decision in Petrillo, all five
           districts of our appellate court have followed the decision and,
           although the specific application of Petrillo to various facts has
           differed in some respects, "the fundamental holding that ex parte
           discussions between defense counsel and plaintiff's treating
           physician shall be conducted only through authorized methods
           of discovery has been overwhelmingly approved in subsequent
           Illinois Appellate Court cases." L. Bonaguro & M. Jochner, The
           Petrillo Doctrine: A Review and Update, 83 Ill. B.J. 16, 16
           (1995). Other articles, which have analyzed the policy grounds
           on which the Petrillo court based its decision, have either
           endorsed the prohibition of ex parte communications (see P.
           Corboy, Ex Parte Contacts Between Plaintiff's Physician and
           Defense Attorneys: Protecting the Patient-Litigant's Right to a
           Fair Trial, 21 Loy. U. Chi. L.J 1001 (1990)) or questioned the
           "new type of witness privilege" created in Petrillo and the
           perceived expansion of the original decision beyond its natural
           boundaries (see W. McVisk, A More Balanced Approach to Ex
           Parte Interviews by Treating Physicians, 20 Loy. U. Chi. L.J.
           819 (1989); see also C. Redden & W. Bower, Qualifications to
           the Bar of Ex Parte Contacts With Physicians, 79 Ill. B.J. 442
           (1991)).
             We do not believe it is necessary, practical, or appropriate
           for this court to review every case in which the Petrillo rule has
           been applied, distinguished, or otherwise discussed. However,
           because the legislative decision to eviscerate the Petrillo "rule"
           has been questioned by plaintiffs as part of their challenge to
           section 2--1003(a), we find it appropriate to examine the
           rationale of the Petrillo decision and to ascertain whether there
           exists a constitutional source for the recognition of a strong
           public policy interest in preserving the sanctity of the physician-
           patient relationship. We acknowledge that the Petrillo decision
           did not directly recognize a constitutional basis for its holding,
           and we further acknowledge that there was no issue raised in
           Petrillo that the plaintiff's privacy interest in confidential
           medical information was protected by the Illinois Constitution.
           However, the Petrillo court expressly acknowledged that the
           public policy of this state is reflected in constitutional provisions
           as well as statutes. We believe that it is proper for this court to
           consider the Illinois Constitution's privacy provisions as
           reflective of an important policy. With that in mind, we consider
           the important public policy considerations that the Petrillo court
           found compelling enough to bar ex parte conferences.
             In his appeal from the order holding him in contempt of
           court, the attorney in Petrillo raised several arguments. A group
           of arguments, collectively referred to as the "waiver" challenges,
           stated that a plaintiff, by filing suit, places his mental and
           physical condition at issue, thereby waiving the physician-
           patient privilege. The waiver issue was further broken down into
           10 related arguments in which the attorney sought to justify ex
           parte conferences between defense counsel and the treating
           physicians of the plaintiff. In addition, the attorney posited that
           prohibiting defense counsel from engaging in ex parte
           conferences with a plaintiff's treating physician violated defense
           counsel's first amendment rights. Petrillo, 148 Ill. App. 3d at
           584.
             After initially concluding that ex parte conferences were not
           necessary for the preparation of a defense, the Petrillo court
           announced its disagreement with the defense attorney's
           contention that no public policy in Illinois prohibited ex parte
           conferences. According to the court, "Public policy is found in
           a State's constitution and statutes, and where those are silent, in
           the decisions of the judiciary." Petrillo, 148 Ill. App. 3d at 587.
           Noting that public policy forbids "that conduct which tends to
           harm an established and beneficial interest of society the
           existence of which is necessary for the good of the public," the
           court held that "modern public policy strongly favors the
           confidential and fiduciary relationship existing between a patient
           and his physician." Petrillo, 148 Ill. App. 3d at 587. The court
           stated its belief that this public policy was reflected in at least
           two separate indicia: (1) the code of ethics adopted by the
           medical profession, upon which the public necessarily relies as
           a protection of the confidential relationship existing between a
           patient and his physician; and (2) the fiduciary relationship
           which exists between a physician and his patient, which is
           widely recognized in court opinions. 
             The first indicia of the public policy invaded by ex parte
           conferences, the medical profession's code of ethics, was further
           broken down by the Petrillo court into three "prongs": (1) the
           Hippocratic Oath; (2) The American Medical Association's
           Principles of Medical Ethics; and (3) the Current Opinions of
           the Judicial Council of the AMA (1984 ed.)[fn12]
             Observing that the relationship between doctor and patient
           remains confidential only for so long as a patient can trust that
           his consent is a prerequisite to the disclosure of the information
           he conveyed to his doctor, the Petrillo court concluded that
           when a physician and defense counsel engage in ex parte
           conferences without the consent of the patient, the
           confidentiality which once existed between the doctor and
           patient is irreparably breached and the "sanctity of the
           relationship existing between a patient and his physician is
           thereby destroyed." Petrillo, 148 Ill. App. 3d at 591.
           Significantly, the Petrillo court distinguished between medical
           information which is considered waived by the filing of a
           lawsuit and information which is not waived. The court noted
           that disclosure of information could be accomplished by either
           an express consent or one implied at law by the patient's
           conduct, such as the filing of a lawsuit. With respect to the
           latter situation, the patient filing suit implicitly agrees to his or
           her doctor's release of any medical information related to the
           specific physical or mental condition which the patient has
           placed in issue. However, the plaintiff's implied consent (or
           waiver of information) "is obviously and necessarily limited; he
           consents only to the release of his medical information (relative
           to the lawsuit) pursuant to the methods of discovery authorized
           by Supreme Court Rule 201(a) (87 Ill. 2d R. 201(a))."
           (Emphasis in original.) Petrillo, 148 Ill. App. 3d at 591. The
           plaintiff-patient does not, by the simple act of filing suit,
           consent to ex parte discussions between his treating doctor and
           defense counsel, nor does he consent to disclosure of
           confidential information unrelated to the subject matter of the
           lawsuit. The Petrillo court concluded, consistent with the courts
           of other jurisdictions, that patients have the right to rely on their
           physicians' compliance with the ethical obligations of
           confidentiality, and barring ex parte conferences is a necessary
           adjunct to preserve that right.
             The Petrillo court also discussed what it considered to be
           the second "indicia" of the public policy against ex parte
           conferences between defense counsel and plaintiff's treating
           physicians. Similar to the confidentiality/privacy discussion
           addressed above, this portion of the appellate court's opinion
           found that society has an established interest in the fiduciary
           quality of the physician-patient relationship. Citing cases from
           Illinois and other jurisdictions, the Petrillo court stated that the
           fiduciary relationship between doctor and patient is founded
           upon trust and confidence. Implied in this fiduciary relationship
           is a "good faith" requirement that the physician will not engage
           in conduct adverse to his or her patient, including ex parte
           conferences with the patient's opposing counsel. Emphasizing
           that at the heart of a fiduciary relationship is trust, loyalty, and
           faith in the discretion of the fiduciary, the court in Petrillo
           concluded that ex parte conferences with defense counsel
           constituted a serious breach of trust. Petrillo, 148 Ill. App. 3d
           at 596.
             We believe that the rationale of the Petrillo court is sound
           and that there is a strong public policy against ex parte
           conferences between the plaintiffs' health care practitioners and
           defendants or their representatives. We further believe that the
           privacy interest referred to in the "certain remedy" clause of
           section 12 provides a constitutional source for the protection of
           the patient's privacy interest in medical information and records
           that are not related to the subject matter of the plaintiff's
           lawsuit. We acknowledge that the certain remedy provision has
           been referred to in general as a statement of philosophy rather
           than a guarantee of a specific remedy. See Sullivan v.
           Midlothian Park District, 51 Ill. 2d 274, 277 (1972).
           Nonetheless, we believe that a statement of "constitutional
           philosophy" is reflective of the strong public policy that was
           recognized in Petrillo. Therefore, we conclude that patients in
           Illinois have a privacy interest in confidential medical
           information, and that the Petrillo court properly recognized a
           strong public policy in preserving patients' fiduciary and
           confidential relationship with his or her physicians. [fn13]
           
                  VI. Severability
             We have declared that certain provisions of Public Act 89--
           7 violate the Illinois Constitution. Specifically, we have
           invalidated the cap on noneconomic damages, the provision
           which gives a credit to third-party tortfeasors in the amount of
           the employer's proportionate share of liability, the abolition of
           joint and several liability, and the provision of the Code of Civil
           Procedure which requires the wholesale disclosure of
           confidential medical information upon the filing of a personal
           injury lawsuit. Our next determination is whether the legislature
           would have passed the Act in the truncated form that remains
           after these invalid provisions are eliminated. Under principles of
           severability, we consider whether the provisions that we have
           not declared invalid may be given effect independently, without
           doing violence to the legislative intent in passing the
           comprehensive tort reform legislation. See, e.g., Murneigh, 177
           Ill. 2d at 313-14. If, however, the invalid portions may not be
           severed from the remainder of the Act, the legislation is
           rendered void in its entirety. See, e.g., City of Chicago Heights
           v. Public Service Co., 408 Ill. 604, 610-11 (1951); Dornfeld v.
           Julian, 104 Ill. 2d 261 (1984).
             Whether or not an act is severable is a question of
           legislative intent. E.g., Russell Stewart Oil Co. v. State, 124 Ill.
           2d 116, 128 (1988); Dornfeld, 104 Ill. 2d at 265-66. It has been
           noted that this inquiry is twofold, because the legislature must
           have intended that the act be severable, and the act must be
           capable of severability in fact. See 2 N. Singer, Sutherland on
           Statutory Construction sec. 44.03, at 495 (5th ed. 1993); see also
           City of Chicago Heights, 408 Ill. at 610-11. To determine
           whether an act is severable this court has often repeated, as the
           "settled and governing test of severability," whether the valid
           and invalid provisions of the Act are "so mutually `connected
           with and dependent on each other, as conditions, considerations
           or compensations for each other, as to warrant the belief that the
           legislature intended them as a whole, and if all could not be
           carried into effect the legislature would not pass the residue
           independently ***.' " [Citation.] The provisions are not
           severable if `they are essentially and inseparably connected in
           substance.' " Fiorito v. Jones, 39 Ill. 2d 531, 540-41 (1968);
           accord People ex rel. Rudman v. Rini, 64 Ill. 2d 321, 329
           (1976); Northern Illinois Home Builders Ass'n v. County of
           Du Page, 165 Ill. 2d 25, 48-49 (1995); see also Commercial
           National Bank v. City of Chicago, 89 Ill. 2d 45, 73-74 (1982)
           (and cases cited therein). 
             Determining whether portions of an act are severable is a
           matter of statutory construction, and the existence of a
           severability clause within the statute is not conclusive of the
           issue. Instead, an express severability clause may be viewed as
           a rebuttable presumption of legislative intent. See, e.g.,
           Jacobson v. Department of Public Aid, 171 Ill. 2d 314, 329
           (1996); Commercial National Bank, 89 Ill. 2d at 75; Grennan v.
           Sheldon, 401 Ill. 351, 360-61 (1948). In the case at bar, Public
           Act 89--7 includes a general severability provision, which states:
           "The provisions of this Act, including both the new and the
           amendatory provisions, are severable under section 1.31 of the
           Statute [on] Statutes." Pub. Act 89--7 sec. 990, citing 5 ILCS
           70/1.31 (West 1996). Although the enactment of a severability
           provision reflects a legislative effort to preserve an act
           notwithstanding a declaration of partial invalidity, it has been
           noted that "[b]ecause of the very frequency with which it is
           used, the severability clause is regarded as little more than a
           mere formality." 2 N. Singer, Sutherland on Statutory
           Construction sec. 44.08, at 521 (5th ed. 1993). This court has
           noted that a severability clause "may be useful as an aid in
           determining legislative intent, [but] it is not an `inexorable
           command' [citation] *** `*** and [it] must be applied in
           conformity with the rules of constitutional law.' [Citation.]"
           Commercial National Bank, 89 Ill. 2d at 74. See also People ex
           rel. Chicago Bar Ass'n v. State Board of Elections, 136 Ill. 2d
           513, 532 (1990) (noting that this court "has frequently held that
           unconstitutional provisions of a statute were not severable from
           the remainder of the statute even though the statute itself
           contained a severability clause").
             In Jacobson, 171 Ill. 2d at 329, we held that the
           presumption of severability reflected by an express severability
           clause will be overcome and the entire statute held
           unconstitutional if the legislature would not have passed the
           statute without the provision deemed invalid. Jacobson, 171 Ill.
           2d at 329, citing Northern Illinois Home Builders Ass'n, 165 Ill.
           2d at 48. To determine whether the legislature would have
           passed the statute without the provision declared invalid, the
           courts consider whether the legislative purpose or object in
           passing the act is significantly undercut or altered by the
           elimination of the invalid provisions. For example, in Grennan,
           this court invalidated the entire Hospital Authorities Act of 1947
           after finding that the invalid provisions, which contained an
           arbitrary classification of voters, could not be severed from the
           remaining provisions without defeating the object of the act.
           Grennan, 401 Ill. at 360-61.
             Similarly, in City of Chicago Heights, this court held invalid
           in its entirety a public utility regulatory scheme after finding
           that the license and permit fees imposed by the ordinance were
           excessive and unreasonable as a matter of law. City of Chicago
           Heights, 408 Ill. at 609-10. This court next addressed whether
           the invalid license and permit fee provisions were severable
           from the remainder of the ordinance, which regulated other
           supervisory duties imposed upon the department of streets.
           Holding that the stricken provisions were "manifestly the most
           important part of the regulatory system," this court concluded
           that it could not determine that the council would have adopted
           the ordinance without the provisions that had been declared
           invalid; consequently, the entire ordinance was held null and
           void. City of Chicago Heights, 408 Ill. at 611. See also People
           ex rel. Barrett v. Union Bank & Trust Co., 362 Ill. 164, 170
           (1935) (invalid provision of banking statute held not severable
           from remainder of statute).
             Even in cases where the valid sections of an act are
           complete and capable of being executed, the entire act will be
           declared void if, after striking the invalid provisions, the act that
           remains does not reflect the legislative purpose in enacting the
           legislation. For example in Village of Schaumburg v. Jeep Eagle
           Sales Corp., 285 Ill. App. 3d 481, 489 (1996), the court held
           that certain provisions of a sign ordinance which imposed
           restrictions as to the type, number, and height of flags
           impermissibly distinguished corporate and official flags from all
           other flags. In holding invalid the content-based restrictions, the
           court held that the other restrictions, although complete and
           capable of being executed, could not be severed from the invalid
           portions because the effect of enforcing the remaining provisions
           would be contrary to the original intent of the ordinance. Village
           of Schaumburg, 285 Ill. App. 3d at 489. Similarly, in Lee v.
           Retirement Board of the Policeman's Annuity & Benefit Fund,
           31 Ill. 2d 252 (1964), the invalidation of a portion of an
           amendment rendered the entire amendment void because it no
           longer reflected the legislature's intention, which was to grant
           special pension credits to policemen on a particular eligibility
           roster. Removing the language that limited the preference to the
           one group of officers would have had the unintended effect of
           expanding the application of the preference to a much larger
           group of policemen, thereby increasing the taxpayers' burden.
           Such a result would not be consistent with the legislature's goals
           in enacting the amendment. Lee, 31 Ill. 2d at 255-56. See also
           Union Bank & Trust Co., 362 Ill. at 170; People ex rel. Chicago
           Bar Ass'n, 136 Ill. 2d at 534-36.
             In contrast to the above cases, statutes have been upheld
           notwithstanding the invalidation of a provision where such
           provision was not considered to be so inextricably connected to
           the rest of the act that the legislature would not have passed the
           one portion without the other. For example, in Dornfeld, this
           court held that a two-year limitation period for bringing a
           paternity action violated the equal protection rights of the
           children of unwed parents. Dornfeld, 104 Ill. 2d at 265. On the
           question of severability, this court held that the limitations
           provision could be removed from the Paternity Act without
           violating the purpose of the legislation and thus did not render
           the entire act invalid. Dornfeld, 104 Ill. 2d at 266-67. Similarly,
           in Northern Illinois Home Builders Ass'n, this court reviewed
           and rejected several constitutional challenges to a scheme under
           which Du Page County was authorized to impose transportation
           impact fees on new land developments. One provision under
           review was held invalid under equal protection and uniformity
           principles, as unduly burdening the appeal rights of certain fee
           payers. Northern Illinois Home Builders Ass'n, 165 Ill. 2d at 48.
           In holding that this provision was severable from the remainder
           of the ordinance, we held that the ordinance still served the
           legislature's intent of ensuring that new developments pay their
           fair share of road improvements. Northern Illinois Home
           Builders Ass'n, 165 Ill. 2d at 49. See also Murneigh, 177 Ill. 2d
           at 313-14; Tully v. Edgar, 171 Ill. 2d 297 (1996). 
             After reviewing the general principles of severability
           reflected in the foregoing authorities, we consider the General
           Assembly's intent in passing the legislation introduced as House
           Bill 20 and enacted, without compromise or revisions, as Public
           Act 89--7. As this court has previously noted, legislative history
           is relevant to our analysis of severability. See, e.g., People ex
           rel. Chicago Bar Ass'n, 136 Ill. 2d at 536-37; People v. Porter,
           122 Ill. 2d 64, 81 (1988). It is not disputed that the sponsors
           and supporters of the bill intended to effectuate comprehensive
           reform of the current tort system in Illinois. As such, House Bill
           20 represented a major piece of tort legislation, of unparalleled
           scope and potential impact on the citizens of this state. The
           transcripts of the legislative debate reflect that House Bill 20
           was presented to the full house for vote as a whole, integrated
           piece, and that the presentation of any modifications or
           amendments was discouraged. See 89th Ill. Gen. Assem., House
           Proceedings, February 16, 1995, at 136. It is undisputed that the
           bill was distributed to the full membership of the house minutes
           before midnight on the evening before the floor debates were to
           be held. It is also undisputed that opponents of the bill objected
           to the speed with which the bill, and its restructuring of Illinois
           tort law, was pushed through the legislative process. This
           lengthy piece of legislation with its numerous provisions
           affecting the landscape of tort liability was presented to the full
           house for discussion just hours after its distribution, and was put
           to a vote the next day. No amendments were considered or
           accepted. On the contrary, House Bill 20 was adopted
           unchanged, as an integrated "reform package." One inference to
           be drawn from the manner in which the legislation was adopted
           is that the individual pieces of the package are inseparable from
           the whole.
             Strong support for this inference is defendants' concession
           that the cap on noneconomic damages was considered essential
           to the legislation enacted. According to Representative Cross,
           the sponsor of the bill in the House, "this cap is the centerpiece
           of all these reforms." 89th Ill. Gen. Assem., House Proceedings,
           February 16, 1995, at 19 (statements of Representative Cross).
           The language of the preamble to the Act reinforces that key role
           of the damages cap; out of 17 clauses in the preamble
           characterized as "legislative findings," no less than eight cite
           noneconomic damages as a major concern of the legislature.
           During oral argument of this case, counsel for defendants
           confirmed that the noneconomic cap on damages is central to
           the legislative scheme of tort reform. In fact, so vital to the
           Act's purpose is the cap on noneconomic damages that the
           legislature included, in section 2--1117, an express exception to
           several liability that would operate only in the event that the cap
           was declared invalid. In such a case, the imposition of several
           liability as applied to health care providers is to be replaced
           with joint and several liability, which Public Act 89--7 abolished
           in all types of personal injury cases. As we held elsewhere in
           this opinion, such an attempt to create a limited exception to the
           abolition of joint liability constitutes invalid special legislation.
           For purposes of severability analysis, this legislative attempt to
           single out one class of plaintiffs or tortfeasors for separate
           treatment, based on the eventuality that the cap was invalidated,
           demonstrates that key provisions of the Act are interconnected
           and mutually dependent upon each other.
             In addition to the emphasis that the preamble places on the
           noneconomic damages cap, another important goal expressed in
           the preamble is to reinforce fault-based liability and to insure
           that tortfeasors bear only their proportionate share of liability to
           injured plaintiffs. As a means to accomplish this express goal,
           Public Act 89--7 abolishes joint liability in favor of several
           liability. Ergo, the abolition of joint liability is, like the cap,
           central to the purposes of the Act. The removal of these two
           central goals of Public Act 89--7 (the imposition of the cap and
           the abolition of joint liability) defeats, in large part, its raison
           d'etre.
             The legislation under review is a collection of
           interconnected provisions which address different aspects of tort
           liability, but nonetheless share the overriding determination to
           fulfill the goals set forth in the preamble. The summary of
           legislative purpose in the preamble enumerates these goals,
           which reflect the legislative intent to replace tort liability in its
           current form with a system featuring a damages cap, several
           liability instead of joint and several liability, and a reduction in
           the number of medical malpractice and product liability lawsuits
           filed. Other stated goals include protecting the economic health
           of business and units of local government, protecting the
           availability of affordable liability insurance, and decreasing the
           systemic costs of tort recovery. It is evident from the language
           of the preamble, the provisions of the Act itself, the legislative
           history, and defendants' arguments in the case at bar that Public
           Act 89--7 was intended to have a broad, systemwide impact on
           the litigation of personal injury lawsuits. As such,
           implementation of the Act's provisions would modify or
           supplant a vast body of tort principles developed in many
           decisions of Illinois courts. For purposes of severability analysis,
           we cannot conclude that the legislature would have intended to
           pass a version of tort reform that did not include the measures
           by which to accomplish its goals.
             In summary, core provisions of Public Act 89--7 have been
           declared unconstitutional by this court. Without these core
           provisions, which were essential to the passage of the Act and
           which are inseparable from the remainder of Public Act 89--7,
           the legislation must fail in toto. We conclude that we cannot
           hold independently enforceable that residue which remains of
           Public Act 89--7 after eliminating the core provisions through
           which the Act intended to accomplish its goals. To do so we
           would be, in effect, rewriting Public Act 89--7 and refashioning
           it into another piece of legislation that the legislature cannot be
           presumed to have intended to enact. As this court observed in
           Commercial National Bank, 89 Ill. 2d at 75, " `[t]he new law
           would be created by this court and not by the General
           Assembly, because it enacted a different one. This would
           amount to a delegation of legislative powers to the courts, which
           is contrary to article III of the constitution, as well as numerous
           decisions of this court.' [Citation]." Accordingly, we hold that
           Public Act 89--7 is void in its entirety.
           
           VII. Other Provisions of Public Act 89--7 
             Because of our severability holding, we address only briefly
           the other specific provisions of the Act that were challenged in
           the instant appeal. The circuit court ruled that section 2--1107.1,
           which describes three jury instructions to be given in tort
           actions, is unconstitutional. One jury instruction would prevent
           the jury from being informed about the cap on noneconomic or
           punitive damages. Clearly, this instruction is nullified by our
           declaration that the cap itself is unconstitutional. See 2 N.
           Singer, Sutherland on Statutory Construction sec. 44.04, at 502
           (5th ed. 1993) ("Even where part of an act is independent and
           valid, other parts which are not themselves substantively invalid
           but have no separate function to perform independent of the
           invalid portions of the act are also held invalid"). The other two
           jury instructions are not clearly invalid, however. One of these
           jury instructions would require the court to inform the jury that
           compensatory and punitive damage awards are not taxable. The
           other instruction would prevent the jury from being informed
           that the plaintiff would not recover any damages if his or her
           contributory negligence exceeded 50% percent. Because of our
           determination that the valid provisions of the Act are not
           severable from the invalid provisions, we strike these two
           instructions without expressing any opinion regarding their
           constitutionality independent of the Act.
             The circuit court also invalidated five specific provisions
           that relate to product liability actions. One provision, section 2--
           623, requires product liability plaintiffs to attach a certificate of
           merit to their complaint as a prerequisite for initiating an action
           to recover damages. 735 ILCS 5/2--623 (West 1996). Although
           a certificate of merit requirement in medical malpractice actions
           was upheld by this court in DeLuna v. St. Elizabeth's Hospital,
           147 Ill. 2d 57, 75 (1992), plaintiffs attempt to distinguish
           DeLuna and also, in the alternative, request us to reconsider the
           DeLuna holding. Another section, which amends the existing
           product liability statute of repose, extends the limitation periods
           and outside period of repose to include all theories of product
           liability. 735 ILCS 5/13--213(b) (West 1996). In contrast, the
           prior version of the repose statute excluded negligence from its
           scope. See 735 ILCS 5/13--213(b) (West 1994). Defendants
           contend that this court's decision in Mega v. Holy Cross
           Hospital, 111 Ill. 2d 416, 422 (1986), which upheld a four-year
           statute of repose in medical malpractice actions, is persuasive
           authority for upholding the constitutional validity of section 13--
           213(b). Two other provisions that were declared invalid by the
           circuit court, sections 2--2103 and 2--204, create statutory
           presumptions as to when a product is considered reasonably
           safe. Section 2--2103 attaches a presumption of safety to any
           product that meets state or federal safety standards. 735 ILCS
           5/2--2103 (West 1996). Section 2--2104 provides that the design
           of a product or component shall be presumed to be reasonably
           safe unless the plaintiff can establish that, at the time the
           product left the manufacturer's control, "a practical and
           technically feasible alternative design was available that would
           have prevented the harm without significantly impairing the
           usefulness, desirability, or marketability of the product." 735
           ILCS 5/2--2104 (West 1996). The fifth provision, section 2--
           2106, imposes a presumption that if written warnings are given
           to users of products, such warnings shall be deemed adequate if
           they conform to generally recognized standards in the industry
           at the time the product was introduced into the stream of
           commerce. 735 ILCS 5/2--2106 (West 1996).
             We do not determine, in this case, whether or not the above
           product liability provisions are infirm as a matter of substantive
           constitutional law. We note that defendants, in addition to
           arguing in favor of the constitutionality of the provisions, have
           raised waiver and ripeness as reasons for this court to reject the
           circuit court's holding that the product liability provisions in
           issue are unconstitutional. For example, defendants contend that
           plaintiff Best waived his challenge to the filing of a certificate
           of merit because he did, in fact, obtain and file an expert's
           affidavit in support of his cause of action. Plaintiff Best
           responds that his filing of the product liability certificate of
           merit was done under protest, without waiving his challenge.
           Defendants also challenge, at this early stage in the litigation,
           the ripeness of a constitutional challenge to the provisions which
           allow product liability defendants to benefit from evidentiary
           presumptions. Plaintiffs dispute defendants' ripeness argument
           and urge this court to resolve the constitutionality of the
           provisions under review.
             We believe that we should exercise caution and restraint in
           making any ruling, apart from our severability holding, on the
           constitutionality of these product liability provisions. Without
           indicating how this court might rule in a future case involving
           a possibly reenacted version of the challenged provisions, we
           simply note that if we were to hold that the provisions in issue
           were not facially invalid, we would be rendering an advisory
           opinion on a portion of Public Act 89--7 that has been held
           inseverable from the unconstitutional provisions. If we were to
           hold that some but not all five of the provisions were
           unconstitutional, we would be making a selective determination
           of individual provisions within the larger product liability
           scheme that is contemplated by the instant Act. We decline to
           engage in speculative analysis or to render an advisory opinion
           on the efficacy of the product liability provisions where, as in
           the instant case, such analysis or opinion is not necessary for the
           disposition of the cause.
             In conclusion, although the circuit court declared the
           product liability provisions of the Act invalid, as well as the
           provisions setting forth three jury instructions to be given in tort
           actions, we decline to reach the substantive merits of the
           constitutional challenges made to those provisions for the
           reasons stated. Accordingly, we vacate that portion of the circuit
           court's holding that reached the substantive merits of the
           products liability issues and the jury instructions, but otherwise
           affirm the judgment of the circuit court in its entirety. We
           emphasize that all of the remaining provisions of Public Act 89-
           -7, which were not challenged in the instant cases, are deemed
           invalid in this case solely on grounds of severability. As such,
           the General Assembly is free to reenact whatever provisions it
           deems desirable or appropriate.
             The problems addressed in the briefs and in oral arguments
           in the case at bar represent some of the most critical concerns
           which confront our society today. We acknowledge and wish to
           commend the attorneys for the plaintiffs, the defendants, amici,
           and Attorney General on the scholarly and impressive briefs and
           oral arguments submitted by each.
           
           Circuit court judgment affirmed.
                                                   
                                                       JUSTICE HEIPLE took no part in the consideration or
           decision of this case.
           
             JUSTICE BILANDIC, specially concurring:
             I concur in the majority's judgment invalidating Public Act
           89--7 in its entirety. I write separately to state that I do not join
           in the majority's discussion of the constitutionality of the
           damages cap under the separation of powers doctrine as that
           discussion is wholly unnecessary and constitutes dicta.
           
             JUSTICE MILLER, concurring in part and dissenting in
           part:
             I joined the court's opinion in Kunkel v. Walton, No. 81176
           (November 20, 1997), and therefore I concur in the portion of
           the present judgment that reaffirms our holding in that case. I do
           not agree with the majority's disposition of the remaining issues
           addressed in the present opinion, however, and accordingly I
           dissent from those portions of the majority opinion.
           
           
                          I
             Legislation is presumed to be valid, and a party challenging
           the constitutionality of a statute has the burden of establishing
           its invalidity. DeLuna v. St. Elizabeth's Hospital, 147 Ill. 2d 57,
           67 (1992); Pre-School Owners Ass'n of Illinois, Inc. v.
           Department of Children & Family Services, 119 Ill. 2d 268, 275
           (1988); Sayles v. Thompson, 99 Ill. 2d 122, 124-25 (1983). This
           court's role in evaluating these provisions is necessarily limited.
           Our function here is not to determine whether the legislature has
           chosen the best or most effective means of resolving the
           problems addressed in the legislation. "Our nation was founded
           in large part on the democratic principle that the powers of
           government are to be exercised by the people through their
           elected representatives in the legislature, subject only to certain
           constitutional limitations. Although this court has never hesitated
           to invalidate laws that it believes to be unconstitutional, we
           emphasize that our role is a limited one. The issue here is `not
           what the legislature should do but what the legislature can do.'
           [Citation.]" People v. Kohrig, 113 Ill. 2d 384, 392-93 (1986).
           Accordingly, the question before this court is not whether the
           measures contained in the Civil Justice Reform Amendments of
           1995 (the Act) are wise, but simply whether they are
           constitutional. Bernier v. Burris, 113 Ill. 2d 219, 229-30 (1986).
             Our cases have repeatedly recognized that no one possesses
           a vested right in the continuation of any particular remedy or
           mode of recovery. First of America Trust Co. v. Armstead, 171
           Ill. 2d 282, 291 (1996); Bernier v. Burris, 113 Ill. 2d 219, 236
           (1986); Trexler v. Chrysler Corp., 104 Ill. 2d 26, 30 (1984).
           Subject only to the collective will of the voters and to the
           constraints of the federal and state constitutions, the legislature
           enjoys broad power to change the common law, and to modify
           and even eliminate statutory and common law rights and
           remedies. In People v. Gersch, 135 Ill. 2d 384, 395 (1990), this
           court explained, "The legislature is formally recognized as
           having a superior position to that of the courts in establishing
           common law rules of decision. The Illinois General Assembly
           has the inherent power to repeal or change the common law, or
           do away with all or part of it. [Citations.]" "[T]his pervasive
           power of the legislature to alter the common law" (Gersch, 135
           Ill. 2d at 395) reflects the legislature's superior role in
           articulating public policy. In Collins v. Metropolitan Life
           Insurance Co., 232 Ill. 37, 44 (1907), this court explained the
           proper hierarchy between the legislative and judicial branches in
           matters of public policy:
               "When the sovereign power of the State has by written
                          constitution declared the public policy of the State on a
                          particular subject, the legislative and judicial
                          departments of the government must accept such
                          declaration as final. When the legislature has declared,
                          by law, the public policy of the State, the judicial
                          department must remain silent, and if a modification or
                          change in such policy is desired the law-making
                          department must be applied to, and not the judiciary,
                          whose function is to declare the law but not to make it."
           See also Roanoke Agency, Inc. v. Edgar, 101 Ill. 2d 315, 327
           (1984) (quoting Collins); Stroh v. Blackhawk Holding Corp., 48
           Ill. 2d 471, 483 (1971) (same).
             Our cases are replete with references to the legislature's
           authority to determine public policy, to prescribe solutions to
           problems, and to alter the common law. For example, in Maki
           v. Frelk, 40 Ill. 2d 193, 196 (1968), this court declined to adopt
           a system of comparative negligence, concluding instead that
           "such a far-reaching change, if desirable, should be made by the
           legislature rather than by the court. The General Assembly is the
           department of government to which the constitution has
           entrusted the power of changing the laws." Although this court
           later decided to adopt comparative negligence on its own,
           without waiting for legislative action (see Alvis v. Ribar, 85 Ill.
           2d 1 (1981)), the court did so not because it believed that the
           legislature lacked the authority to make that change, but for
           other reasons. Later, the legislature rejected the pure form of
           comparative fault adopted by this court in Alvis, replacing it
           with a modified version (735 ILCS 5/2--1116 through 2--1118
           (West 1996)), which has withstood constitutional challenge (see
           Reuter v. Korb, 248 Ill. App. 3d 142 (1993)).
             More recently, in Committee for Educational Rights v.
           Edgar, 174 Ill. 2d 1, 29-32 (1996), this court declined to rule
           that the current method of funding public schools is
           unconstitutional, deciding instead to defer to the legislature's
           superior ability to establish public policy and to devise
           appropriate answers to questions facing our society. Although it
           is certainly true that the power of the legislature to act in a
           particular field is not a license to act unconstitutionally, the
           legislature generally enjoys broad discretion in its determinations
           of public policy.
             The majority does not disagree with these basic principles
           of review, yet the court reaches conclusions that are far different
           from what our precedents require, and that strike at the heart of
           the venerable and fundamental relationship between the
           legislative and judicial branches. The majority undermines these
           principles when it effectively substitutes its own view of public
           policy for the legislature's considered judgment.
           
                         II
             The majority devotes a substantial part of its opinion to a
           discussion of the $500,000 limit imposed by the Act on the
           recovery of noneconomic losses in personal injury actions. The
           majority's principal conclusion is that the statute violates the
           Illinois Constitution's prohibition on special legislation. Ill.
           Const. 1970, art. IV, sec. 13. Applying the rational basis test,
           the majority assiduously attempts to locate its special legislation
           analysis within the framework of our case law, but the
           majority's analysis actually marks a significant departure from
           precedent.
             The Act's limitation on the recovery of noneconomic
           damages is found in section 2--1115.1 of the Code of Civil
           Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2--1115.1 (West 1996)). Section 2--
           1115.1(a) provides:
                      "In all common law, statutory or other actions that
                          seek damages on account of death, bodily injury, or
                          physical damage to property based on negligence, or
                          product liability based on any theory or doctrine,
                          recovery of non-economic damages shall be limited to
                          $500,000 per plaintiff. There shall be no recovery for
                          hedonic damages."
           Noneconomic damages are defined as "damages which are
           intangible, including but not limited to damages for pain and
           suffering, disability, disfigurement, loss of consortium, and loss
           of society." 735 ILCS 5/2--1115.2(b) (West 1996). In contrast,
           economic damages, upon which no limit is imposed, are "all
           damages which are tangible, such as damages for past and future
           medical expenses, loss of income or earnings and other property
           loss." 735 ILCS 5/2--1115.2(a) (West 1996). The amount of the
           limitation on noneconomic damages is to be adjusted annually
           to reflect changes in the consumer price index. 735 ILCS 5/2--
           1115.1(b) (West 1996).
             "It is well settled that review of a special legislation
           challenge is governed by the same standard that applies to
           review of equal protection challenges. [Citations.]" Cutinello v.
           Whitley, 161 Ill. 2d 409, 417 (1994). The statute at issue does
           not impinge on a fundamental right or delimit a suspect or
           quasi-suspect classification, so the appropriate standard of
           review that governs the plaintiffs' special-legislation challenge
           is the rational basis test, as the majority correctly determines. A
           court applying this standard must decide whether the challenged
           classification is rationally related to a legitimate governmental
           interest. Nevitt v. Langfelder, 157 Ill. 2d 116, 125 (1993);
           Chicago National League Ball Club, Inc. v. Thompson, 108 Ill.
           2d 357, 368 (1985). The considerations that govern a court's
           review of a statute under the rational basis test are familiar and
           have been stated as follows:
               "A statute will be held unconstitutional as special
                          legislation and as violative of the equal protection
                          guarantee only if it was enacted for reasons totally
                          unrelated to the pursuit of a legitimate State goal.
                          [Citation.] The legislature has broad latitude and
                          discretion in drawing statutory classifications to benefit
                          the general welfare, and the classifications it makes are
                          presumed to be valid. A legislative classification will be
                          upheld if any set of facts can be reasonably conceived
                          which justify distinguishing the class to which the law
                          applies from the class to which the statute is
                          inapplicable. [Citations.]" Bilyk v. Chicago Transit
                          Authority, 125 Ill. 2d 230, 236 (1988).
             Contrary to the majority's holding, I would conclude that
           the limit on noneconomic losses contained in the Act does not
           violate the special legislation prohibition of the Illinois
           Constitution, for the provision at issue readily satisfies the
           requirements of the rational basis test. Reform of the civil
           justice system is surely a legitimate governmental goal, and
           imposing a $500,000 limit on the recovery of noneconomic
           damages is rationally related to those ends. Noneconomic losses
           by their nature resist precise measurement. Economic losses,
           which include items such as medical expenses, lost income, and
           lost support, are objective and are readily quantifiable. In
           contrast, noneconomic losses, which includes pain and suffering,
           among other things, are subjective and therefore more difficult
           to quantify. There is great difficulty in determining proper
           compensation for noneconomic losses, and awards for such
           damages will vary greatly from case to case. Thus, there is a
           rational basis for the legislature's decision to distinguish
           between economic and noneconomic damages.
             Limiting compensation for noneconomic losses is rationally
           related to the objectives of the legislation. As the preamble to
           the Act evidences, the legislature was concerned about
           disparities, inconsistencies, and the lack of predictability in the
           awarding of noneconomic damages, and about the costs to
           society of unrestricted compensation for those damages. The
           legislature believed that imposing a limit on the recovery of
           noneconomic losses would promote fairness and would help
           reduce the costs of the tort system. Some will argue that the
           amount selected by the legislature in the provision at issue here
           is too low. Although that might be a valid objection to the Act
           as an expression of public policy, for each of us would probably
           set the limit at a greater or lesser level, it is not a constitutional
           defect in the legislation. Like a repose statute, the limit on the
           recovery of noneconomic losses reflects the balance struck by
           the legislature between an individual's interest in compensation
           for his or her own injuries, and the public's interest in an
           affordable system of tort law. See Mega v. Holy Cross Hospital,
           111 Ill. 2d 416, 428 (1986).
             Again, to uphold the statute we need not be convinced of
           the correctness of the legislature's judgment--we need only find
           that the question is debatable and that the legislature has
           adopted a rational means of achieving the desired ends. Bernier
           v. Burris, 113 Ill. 2d 219, 229-30 (1986). In Minnesota v.
           Clover Leaf Creamery Co., 449 U.S. 456, 464, 66 L. Ed. 2d
           659, 668-69, 101 S. Ct. 715, 724 (1981), the Supreme Court
           articulated the appropriate degree of deference:
                      "But States are not required to convince the courts of
                          the correctness of their legislative judgments. Rather,
                          `those challenging the legislative judgment must
                          convince the court that the legislative facts on which the
                          classification is apparently based could not reasonably
                          be conceived to be true by the governmental
                          decisionmaker.' Vance v. Bradley [440 U.S. 93, 111, 59
                          L. Ed. 2d 171, 184-85, 99 S. Ct. 939, 949-50 (1979)].
                          [Citations.]
                      Although parties challenging legislation under the
                          Equal Protection Clause may introduce evidence
                          supporting their claim that it is irrational, United States
                          v. Carolene Products Co. [304 U.S. 144, 153-54, 82 L.
                          Ed. 1234, 1242, 58 S. Ct. 778, 784 (1938)], they cannot
                          prevail so long as `it is evident from all the
                          considerations presented to [the legislature], and those
                          of which we may take judicial notice, that the question
                          is at least debatable.' [304 U.S. at 154, 82 L. Ed. at
                          1243, 58 S. Ct. at 784.] Where there was evidence
                          before the legislature reasonably supporting the
                          classification, litigants may not procure invalidation of
                          the legislation merely by tendering evidence in court
                          that the legislature was mistaken."
           Thus, under rational basis review, "a legislative choice is not
           subject to courtroom factfinding and may be based on rational
           speculation unsupported by evidence or empirical data.
           [Citations.]" Federal Communications Comm'n v. Beach
           Communications, Inc., 508 U.S. 307, 315, 124 L. Ed. 2d 211,
           222, 113 S. Ct. 2096, 2102 (1993).
             In deciding that the cap on noneconomic losses is invalid
           special legislation, the majority tests the provision against
           specially selected hypothetical cases that are obviously designed
           to illustrate defects in the statute. Slip op. at 24-26. The
           legislature, however, makes no pretense that the reform
           measures at issue here are a panacea for all the ills, perceived
           or otherwise, in our system of tort law. Nor is it necessary that
           legislation like this have such miraculous effect. Under rational
           basis review, we ask only whether the means chosen by the
           legislature are rationally related to the purposes of the law. In
           contrast to the examples posited by the majority, one could as
           easily select hypothetical cases that support and sustain the
           remedy devised by the legislature. We have never before
           required legislation under rational basis scrutiny to qualify under
           a standard as rigorous as that applied by the majority. In People
           v. Kohrig, 113 Ill. 2d 384, 402-03 (1986), in the course of
           sustaining the validity of the mandatory seat belt law, we
           observed, " `[T]he law need not be in every respect logically
           consistent with its aims to be constitutional. It is enough that
           there is an evil at hand for correction, and that it might be
           thought that the particular legislative measure was a rational
           way to correct it.' (Williamson v. Lee Optical of Oklahoma, Inc.,
           (1955), 348 U.S. 483, 487-88, 99 L. Ed. 2d 563, 572, 75 S. Ct.
           461, 464.)"
             Nor is today's decision compelled by Wright v. Central Du
           Page Hospital Ass'n, 63 Ill. 2d 313 (1976), Grace v. Howlett,
           51 Ill. 2d 478 (1972), or Grasse v. Dealer's Transport Co., 412
           Ill. 179 (1952), as the majority believes. In all three cases the
           court found special legislation violations. The statutes at issue
           in those cases, however, were much different from the measure
           involved here. The statute challenged in Wright imposed a limit
           of $500,000 on the total amount of damages, both economic and
           noneconomic, that could be recovered by a plaintiff in a medical
           malpractice action. The court found the statute to be a violation
           of the special legislation prohibition, concluding that medical
           malpractice plaintiffs had been arbitrarily selected to bear the
           burden of being limited in the total amount of compensation
           they were allowed to receive for their injuries. Both these
           concerns are alleviated in the provision at issue here, which is
           broader in scope but narrower in effect: the statute applies to all
           actions for personal injury, but it limits only a plaintiff's
           recovery of noneconomic losses and does not impose any cap on
           the recovery of economic losses. Moreover, in Anderson v.
           Wagner, 79 Ill. 2d 295, 304-05 (1979), this court counseled that
           Wright should not be read "too broadly," noting that the statute
           in Wright could have prevented the full recovery of medical
           expenses. Anderson rejected constitutional challenges, including
           one of special legislation, to a statute of limitations for medical
           malpractice actions.
             Grace and Grasse are also distinguishable. The legislation
           challenged in Grace limited an injured plaintiff's ability to
           recover compensation for injuries incurred in traffic accidents,
           depending on whether the other party was using the vehicle for
           personal or commercial purposes. In Grasse a provision of the
           Worker's Compensation Act would have transferred an injured
           employee's action against a third-party tortfeasor to the
           plaintiff's employer if the third party's employee was also
           covered by the Act. In neither case was the court able to discern
           a rational basis for the classifications drawn by the legislature.
             I believe that the opposite conclusion is required here. In
           contrast to the measures at issue in Wright, Grace, and Grasse,
           the limit on the recovery of noneconomic losses bears a rational
           relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose. Here, the
           legislature could find that a $500,000 limitation on noneconomic
           damages would reduce the costs to society of allowing
           compensation for damages that, by their nature, are subjective
           and difficult to measure. For these reasons, I would join the
           group of jurisdictions that have upheld, against corresponding
           challenges on equal protection grounds, similar limits on the
           recovery of damages in tort actions. See, e.g., Davis v.
           Omitowoju, 883 F.2d 1155 (3d Cir. 1989) (applying Virgin
           Islands law; $250,000 limit on noneconomic damages in medical
           malpractice actions); Boyd v. Bulala, 877 F.2d 1191 (4th Cir.
           1989) (applying Virginia law; $750,000 limit on damages in
           medical malpractice actions); Fein v. Permanente Medical
           Group, 38 Cal. 3d 137, 695 P.2d 665, 211 Cal. Rptr. 368
           (1985); Scholz v. Metropolitan Pathologists, P.C., 851 P.2d 901
           (Colo. 1993) ($250,000 limit on noneconomic damages and
           $1,000,000 on total damages in medical malpractice actions);
           Johnson v. St. Vincent Hospital, Inc., 273 Ind. 374, 404 N.E.2d
           585 (1980) ($500,000 limit on damages in medical malpractice
           actions); Murphy v. Edmonds, 325 Md. 342, 601 A.2d 102
           (1992) ($350,000 limit on noneconomic damages in personal
           injury actions); Etheridge v. Medical Center Hospitals, 237 Va.
           87, 376 S.E.2d 525 (1989) ($750,000 limit on damages in
           medical malpractice actions); Robinson v. Charleston Area
           Medical Center, 186 W. Va. 720, 414 S.E.2d 877 (1991)
           ($1,000,000 limit on noneconomic damages in medical
           malpractice actions).
             Perhaps uncertain of its own conclusion, the majority
           opinion goes on to consider an alternative argument against the
           limit on noneconomic damages, hoping to persuade the reader
           by prolixity, if not by force of reasoning. Here, the majority
           finds that the limit on the recovery of noneconomic damages
           functions as a legislatively imposed remittitur and for that
           reason violates the separation of powers doctrine. The majority's
           discussion of this additional argument is entirely unnecessary,
           given the majority's prior holding that the same measure is
           invalid special legislation. On the merits, I disagree with the
           majority's conclusion that the cap on noneconomic damages
           improperly intrudes on the judicial power of remittitur. The
           challenged provision does not represent a finding about the
           evidence of any particular case, and it does not detract from the
           power of a court to reduce an award of damages in appropriate
           circumstances. Remittitur pertains to judges and juries, not the
           legislature; by characterizing the cap on damages as a remittitur,
           the majority is simply erecting and demolishing a strawman.
           The majority's broad holding on this question means, in essence,
           that the legislature may never impose a limit on damages, at
           least in common law actions. Given the implications of this
           holding and the absence of any need to discuss the issue, I
           would not join this part of the majority opinion even if I agreed
           with the court that the caps provision was invalid special
           legislation.
           
                         III
             The majority's lengthy treatment of several other provisions
           of the Act is also superfluous, given the court's conclusion that
           the $500,000 limit on the recovery of noneconomic damages is
           invalid special legislation, and the court's subsequent holding
           that the damages cap is not severable from the remainder of the
           Act. The majority's discussion of these other issues is simply
           unnecessary to the court's resolution of the appeals and should
           be recognized as the dicta that it is.
             First, the majority considers section 3.5 of the Contribution
           Act. The majority concludes that the new provision is internally
           inconsistent and could allow an improper "double reduction" of
           damages awarded to an injured employee in an action against a
           third-party tortfeasor. I agree with the defendants that the
           legislature could not have intended to permit a double reduction
           in damages and that the measure should be interpreted
           accordingly. In that manner, the constitutionality of the
           provision can be preserved.
             The majority next considers the validity of the modification
           made to section 2--1117 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735
           ILCS 5/2--1117 (West 1996)), abolishing joint and several
           liability. In discussing this provision the majority initially
           pursues several lines of thought until it finally settles on one,
           determining that the measure violates the special legislation
           prohibition of our state constitution because it selectively
           restores joint and several liability in medical malpractice cases
           in the event that the cap on noneconomic losses is found
           invalid. Although the purpose of the provision restoring joint
           and several liability in the area of medical malpractice might be
           somewhat obscure, I do not agree that it is unconstitutional on
           that ground alone. Separately, because I believe that the cap on
           noneconomic losses is not invalid for the reasons found by the
           majority, I cannot agree with the majority's conclusion that the
           provision restoring joint and several liability in medical
           malpractice cases has even been triggered.
             The majority also considers the constitutionality of the
           physician-patient disclosure provisions. Just last month, in
           Kunkel v. Walton, No. 81176 (November 20, 1997), this court
           invalidated the same provisions. The majority in the present case
           now relies on a somewhat different rationale to reach the same
           conclusion. While I agree with the result, I do not agree with its
           alternative holding that the statutes violate a right of privacy that
           the majority locates in the "certain remedy" provision found in
           article I, section 12, of the Illinois Constitution (Ill. Const. 1970,
           art. I, sec. 12).
             Contrary to the majority's view, our prior cases construing
           the "certain remedy" provision of the constitution have
           characterized it as an expression of a philosophy rather than as
           a guarantee of the continued existence of any particular cause of
           action or form of recovery. See Mega v. Holy Cross Hospital,
           111 Ill. 2d 416, 424 (1986); Sullivan v. Midlothian Park
           District, 51 Ill. 2d 274, 277 (1972). It should be noted,
           moreover, that the majority's discussion of the certain remedy
           provision is entirely unnecessary, for the majority finds the
           discovery statutes invalid on the separate and independent
           ground that they violate the separation of powers doctrine.
           
                         IV
             As a final matter, I disagree with the majority's conclusion
           that the portions of the Civil Justice Reform Amendments of
           1995 found unconstitutional here and in Kunkel v. Walton, No.
           81176 (November 20, 1997), cannot be severed from the
           remainder of the Act and that the invalidity of those measures
           therefore dooms the entire body of legislation. Contrary to the
           majority's holding, there is compelling evidence that the
           legislature intended for the different provisions of the Act to be
           severable from each other.
             The question of severability is essentially one of legislative
           intent. People v. Warren, 173 Ill. 2d 348, 371 (1996); Tully v.
           Edgar, 171 Ill. 2d 297, 313 (1996); Russell Stewart Oil Co. v.
           State of Illinois, 124 Ill. 2d 116, 128 (1988); Springfield Rare
           Coin Galleries, Inc. v. Johnson, 115 Ill. 2d 221, 237 (1986). As
           expressed by this court in Fiorito v. Jones, 39 Ill. 2d 531, 541
           (1968):
               "The settled and governing test of severability is
                          whether the valid and invalid provisions of the Act are
                          `so mutually "connected with and dependent on each
                          other, as conditions, considerations or compensations for
                          each other, as to warrant the belief that the legislature
                          intended them as a whole, and if all could not be
                          carried into effect the legislature would not pass the
                          residue independently ***".' [Citation.] The provision
                          are not severable if `they are essentially and inseparably
                          connected in substance.' [Citations.]"
             Notably, the Act contains an express severability clause,
           which states, "The provisions of this Act, including both the
           new and the amendatory provisions, are severable under Section
           1.31 of the Statute o[n] Statutes." Pub. Act 89--7, sec. 990, eff.
           March 9, 1995. The general severability provision found in
           section 1.31 of the Statute on Statutes provides:
                      "If any provision of an Act *** or application thereof
                          to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such
                          invalidity does not affect other provisions or
                          applications of the Act which can be given effect
                          without the invalid application or provision, and to this
                          end the provisions of each Act *** are severable, unless
                          otherwise provided by the Act." 5 ILCS 70/1.31 (West
                          1996).
           Although the presence of an express severability clause is not
           dispositive of the question, it does establish a presumption that
           the various provisions of a body of legislation are severable.
           Jacobson v. Department of Public Aid, 171 Ill. 2d 314, 329
           (1996); People ex rel. Chicago Bar Ass'n v. State Board of
           Elections, 136 Ill. 2d 513, 532 (1990).
             Moreover, the various provisions of the Act are not so
           interrelated that one must conclude that the elimination of the
           provisions struck down by the majority means that the
           remainder of the Act also falls. Although the majority
           characterizes the invalid portions of the Act as "core provisions"
           whose removal yields an unenforceable "residue" (slip op. at 80-
           81), the remaining provisions are actually substantial measures
           in their own right that are independent of the provisions
           invalidated here. In Grasse v. Dealer's Transport Co., 412 Ill.
           179, 202 (1952), this court stated:
               "The established rule is that only the invalid parts of a
                          statute are without legal effect, unless all the provisions
                          are so connected as to depend upon each other.
                          [Citations.] If that which remains after the
                          unconstitutional portion is stricken is complete in itself
                          and capable of being executed wholly independently of
                          that which is rejected, the invalid portion does not
                          render the entire section or act unconstitutional."
             Although all the provisions contained in the Act are related
           to tort law generally, they are not so intertwined or interrelated
           that the failure of any one measure, such as the provision
           limiting the recovery of noneconomic damages, necessitates the
           corresponding failure of any other measure, such as the
           provision requiring a certificate of merit in products liability
           actions. The limit on the recovery of noneconomic damages and
           the requirement of a certificate of merit function independently
           of each other, and there is no reason to believe that the
           legislature would not have enacted one in the absence of the
           other. Moreover, although the legislature might have viewed the
           limit on noneconomic losses as one of the most significant parts
           of the legislative package, the invalidity of that provision does
           not undermine the operation of the remaining provisions. As this
           court explained in People ex rel. Dougherty v. City of Rock
           Island, 271 Ill. 412, 422 (1915):
               " `If a statute attempts to accomplish two or more
                          objects and is void as to one, it may still be in every
                          respect complete and valid as to the other; but if its
                          purpose is to accomplish a single object, only, and some
                          of its provisions are void, the whole must fail unless
                          sufficient remains to effect the object without the aid of
                          the invalid portion.' "
           In the present case, whether the Act is viewed as having
           multiple purposes accomplished in multiple ways, or a single
           purpose accomplished in multiple ways, I believe that the
           legislature intended that the measures found invalid by the
           majority would be severed from the remaining provisions of the
           Act.
             The Act itself contains further proof that the legislature
           believed that any portion found to be invalid would be
           severable. The provision restoring joint and several liability in
           medical malpractice actions in the event that the cap on
           noneconomic damages is found unconstitutional represents
           compelling evidence that the legislature intended for the various
           provisions of the Act--or at least the cap on damages, the crux
           of the majority's antiseverability argument--to be severable from
           the other. The majority believes that the provision restoring joint
           and several liability "demonstrates that key provisions of the Act
           are interconnected and mutually dependent upon each other"
           (slip op. at 80) and thus supports a finding of nonseverability.
           In my view, however, the provision compels the opposite
           conclusion, for it establishes that the legislature was concerned
           about the possible invalidation of the cap on noneconomic
           damages and intended for the remaining portions of the Act to
           survive any adverse judicial ruling. Clearly, the legislators
           would not have crafted a response to that contingency if they
           had thought that a ruling invalidating the limit on noneconomic
           damages would drag down the remaining provisions of the Act.
           Whether or not the legislature considered the cap on
           noneconomic damages to be the most important feature of the
           Act, as the majority asserts, it is clear that the legislature did not
           believe that the failure of that measure would doom the rest of
           the Act.
             In sum, given the presence of a severability clause in the
           Act, the ability of the valid measures to stand independently of
           those found invalid, and the legislature's concern about a ruling
           striking down a portion of this body of legislation, I would
           conclude that the provisions found unconstitutional here are
           severable from the remainder of the Act.
           
                        * * *
             Although I agree with the majority that the physician-patient
           disclosure provisions are invalid, for the reasons expressed by
           the court in Kunkel v. Walton, No. 81176 (November 20, 1997),
           I do not agree that the limit on noneconomic damages is invalid
           special legislation or violates the separation of powers clause.
           Nor do I agree with the majority's further conclusion that the
           provisions found invalid here and in Kunkel are not severable
           from the remainder of the Act, and I would therefore consider
           in this appeal the plaintiffs' remaining challenges to the
           provisions of the Act. As I have noted, the judicial role in
           assessing the constitutionality of legislation is quite limited, and
           the majority's result here cannot be defended under traditional
           standards of review. Today's decision represents a substantial
           departure from our precedent on the respective roles of the
           legislative and judicial branches in shaping the law of this state.
           Stripped to its essence, the majority's mode of analysis simply
           constitutes an attempt to overrule, by judicial fiat, the considered
           judgment of the legislature.
           
           
           
           [fn1] An example which was cited frequently in the legislative
           debates is the infamous McDonald's spilled coffee case. See,
           e.g., 89th Ill. Gen. Assem., House Proceedings, February 16,
           1995, at 79, 89-90, 117-18. As one author has noted, the facts
           of this case were presented to the public in a skewed fashion.
           M. Rustad, Nationalizing Tort Law: The Republican Attack on
           Women, Blue Collar Workers and Consumers, 48 Rutgers L.
           Rev. 673, 720-21 (1996). In that case, it was reported that an
           81-year-old woman received a $2.9 million punitive damages
           verdict for injures incurred after she spilled hot coffee in her
           lap. However, less widely reported was that the verdict was
           reduced by the court to $480,000, the elderly woman underwent
           numerous skin graft operations for third degree burns, and
           McDonald's had prior knowledge of hundreds of similar
           scalding incidents. 48 Rutgers L. Rev. at 719 n.228. Also, the
           excessive award was for punitive, not compensatory, damages.
           
           
           [fn2] In Bernier, this court declined to apply a standard stricter
           than rationality review to medical malpractice legislation. This
           court rejected the intermediate test employed by the Supreme
           Court of New Hampshire in Carson v. Maurer, 120 N.H. 925,
           424 A. 2d 825 (1980) and by the Supreme Court of North
           Dakota in Arneson v. Olson, 270 N.W.2d 125 (N.D. 1978). We
           adhere to the Bernier holding for purposes of evaluating section
           2--1115.1.
           
           [fn3] In Hall v. Gillins, 13 Ill. 2d 26 (1958), this court upheld
           as constitutional a cap on damages obtainable under the
           Wrongful Death Act because the legislature created both the
           right and the remedy. As such, this court held that the
           legislature's right to limit the maximum recovery could not be
           questioned. Hall, 13 Ill. 2d at 29. Likewise, in Cunningham v.
           Brown, 22 Ill. 2d 23 (1961), this court held that the damages
           cap contained in the Dramshop Act of 1872 passed
           constitutional muster because the cause of action was a creature
           of statute; i.e., no common law cause of action existed against
           a supplier of alcohol.
           
           [fn4] In Bernier, this court held that the elimination of punitive
           damages in medical malpractice cases served the legitimate
           legislative goal of reducing damages against the medical
           profession. In doing so, the court expressly stated: "That this
           court previously has invalidated, as special legislation, limits on
           recovery of compensatory damages in medical malpractice
           actions [citation], does not require that punitive damages be
           available in every case. The two are readily distinguishable;
           punitive damages, as their name suggests, are intended to punish
           rather than compensate." Bernier, 113 Ill. 2d at 246.
           
           [fn5] "Fault" is defined in section 2--1116 as "any act or
           omission that (i) is negligent, willful and wanton, or reckless, is
           a breach of an express or implied warranty, gives rise to strict
           liability in tort, or gives rise to liability under the provisions of
           any State statute, rule, or local ordinance and (ii) is a proximate
           cause of death, bodily injury to person, or physical damage to
           property for which recovery is sought." 735 ILCS 5/2--1116(b)
           (West 1996). "Contributory fault" is any fault which may be
           attributed to the plaintiff. 735 ILCS 5/2--1116(b) (West 1996).
           For purposes of our discussion regarding the apportionment of
           liability under section 3.5(a), we adhere to these definitions of
           fault and contributory fault. But see R. Wright, Allocating
           Liability Among Multiple Responsible Causes: A Principled
           Defense of Joint and Several Liability for Actual Harm and Risk
           Exposure, 21 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 1141, 1143-46 (1988) (arguing
           that the appropriate terminology to use when discussing the
           apportionment of liability is "comparative responsibility"); see
           also L. Pressler & K. Schieffer, Joint and Several Liability: A
           Case for Reform, 64 Denv. U.L. Rev. 650, 665 n.79 (1988).
           
           [fn6] In the circuit court, defendants contended that the section
           3.5(a) credit could be saved by construing it so that "multiple
           tortfeasors [would receive] a cumulative total credit for the
           employer's liability assessment." See also S. Miller,
           Contribution Claims Under the New Act, 6 IDC Quarterly ii, iv
           (First Quarter 1996) (suggesting that the section 3.5(a) be
           construed so that "the employer's share of fault [is] deducted
           from the total damages rather than from each individual's
           share"). However, the tortfeasors already receive a "cumulative
           total credit for the employer's liability" under section 2--1117.
           Thus, this argument does nothing to eliminate the double
           reduction which occurs when the section 3.5(a) credit is given
           effect.
           
           [fn7] The proponents of the amended version of section 2--1117
           have uniformly asserted that, under the doctrine of joint and
           several liability, tortfeasors are held liable for damages which
           they do not cause. See, e.g., 89th Ill. Gen. Assem., House
           Proceedings, February 16, 1995, at 17 (statements of
           Representative Cross) ("[Section 2--1117] would abolish the
           doctrine of joint and several liability to hold people who are
           responsible for other's damages responsible for only their share
           of the losses and not for the losses which they did not cause");
           K. Dillard, Illinois' Landmark Tort Reform: The Sponsor's
           Policy Explanation, 27 Loy. U. Chi. L.J. 805, 813 (1996)
           ("[T]he system [of joint and several liability] unfairly forced
           defendants to pay more than the damages which they caused");
           M. Redish, The Constitutionality of Illinois Tort Reform III--The
           Repeal of Joint and Several Liability, IDC Quarterly, at 5, 10
           (Second Quarter 1996) ("In repealing joint-and-several liability,
           the General Assembly decided that fundamental notions of
           morality dictate the conclusion that defendants should not be
           obligated to pay for harm which they did not cause"); S. O'Neil,
           A New Day, The Civil Justice Reform Amendments of 1995, 9
           CBA Rec. 18, 20 (May 1995) ("Although it may seem unjust to
           leave a plaintiff uncompensated for the entire loss, it may be
           equally unfair to require a defendant who caused a small portion
           of those damages to pay them in their entirety").
           
           [fn8] Before the circuit court, defendants contended that the
           "only" means by which the legislature could give effect to this
           policy was to adopt proportionate several liability.
           
           [fn9] These requirements are expressly incorporated into several
           other amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure as well:
           section 8--802 (privilege between healthcare practitioner and
           patient), section 8--2001 (inspection of hospital records), section
           8--2003 (physician's and other healthcare practitioner's records)
           and section 8--2004 (records of clinical psychologists and
           clinical social workers). 735 ILCS 5/2--1003, 8--802, 8--2001,
           8--2003, 8--2004 (West Supp. 1995). Because the challenged
           medical disclosure requirements originate in section 2--1003(a),
           our discussion hereafter will focus on that section. 
           
           [fn10] We note that the legislative debate provides little insight
           into whether the sponsors of Public Act 89--7 intended that the
           circuit courts would retain their discretion to enter protective
           orders and to impose sanctions other than the dismissal specified
           in section 2--1003(a).
           
           [fn11] Because plaintiffs do not base their claim on a federal
           right to privacy, we do not discuss any federal cases involving
           privacy interests. 
           
           [fn12] The Hippocratic Oath, according to the Judicial Council
           of the AMA, was conceived during the fifth century B.C. and
           stands as the oldest statement of ethics governing the medical
           profession. It requires the oath taker to keep secret confidential
           matters relating to patients. Similarly, the AMA's principles of
           medical ethics and the opinions of the Judicial Council of the
           AMA emphasize duties of honesty and confidentiality to the
           patient and preservation of the patient's confidential information.
           Additionally, the prior express consent of the patient to
           disclosure of confidential information is considered a right of
           the patient. See Petrillo, 148 Ill. App. 3d at 590.
           
           [fn13] We do not, however, create a broad-based remedy for
           perceived violations of a person's privacy interests by private
           parties. Instead, we focus narrowly on the constitutional source
           of the privacy interest that can be deemed a part of the public
           policy of this state.