March 27, 2015

Late March Unexpected Snow Causes Many Accidents & Injuries in Chicago

by Levin & Perconti

Just when we thought spring was finally here to stay, Chicago surprised us with some snow early in the week. Despite it being late March, temperatures plummeted after a prior week of warmth. Unfortunately, the sudden heavy snow fall caused problems for many travelers on the roads, airport, and trains.

According to a report by NBC Chicago, the snow and icy conditions really caused a rough Monday for Chicagoans. By the afternoon, over 450 flights were cancelled at O’Hare International Airport, and those flights that weren’t cancelled reported delays of up to 90 minutes. At Midway Airport, over 50 flights were cancelled, with others delayed up to an hour.

On the roads, the snow and icy conditions created dangerous situations, especially for morning commuters. Several accidents were reported throughout the Chicagoland area, several of which included school buses. LaPorte County alone received over a dozen calls reporting motor vehicle accidents within two hours of snowfall. Then, a South Central School bus that was carrying 33 students was involved in a crash when it was rear-ended while waiting to turn into the school. A second school bus accident involved an East View Elementary School bus carrying seven students where a car crashed into the bus. A third accident involving a school bus occurred on Orchard Road in Montgomery where the bus was rear-ended by a car. Three other motor vehicle crashes were reported near County Road 400 N on U.S. 35, and another on U.S. 35 near Schultz Road.

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March 25, 2015

Major Recall Continues Over Amy’s Kitchen Frozen Entrees

by Levin & Perconti

Often, when we think of food poisoning, we think of under-cooked or contaminated meat or meat products. However, as our readers know from our recent blog post, food poisoning is actually extremely common as the result of eating contaminated produce and vegetable-based food products. Shockingly, food poisoning is actually higher from consuming produce than from consuming meat. In summary of that post, studies have shown that food poisoning may now be more common from produce consumption because of a decrease in meat consumption, the fact that produce is more often eaten raw than cooked which does not always remove bacteria, and that produce can be cross-contaminated by meat from being produced at the same facility.

A recent listeria outbreak exemplifies the dangers of foodborne illnesses stemming from contaminated vegetable-based products. According to a report by ABC News, Amy’s Kitchen frozen entrees are in the midst of a major recall for listeria-contaminated spinach. The organic food company is undergoing a major recall of over 74,000 items because of listeria found in its spinach. Three other companies are also undergoing a recall for their spinach products too, including Rising Moon Organics, Superior Foods, and Twin City Foods. Amy’s Kitchen and these three companies all received listeria-contaminated spinach from the same organic spinach supplier: Coastal Green. The supplier discovered listeria during testing, and realized that some of its products that were already shipped out were at high risk of contamination as well.

It is important to understand how serious listeria is. According to the same article by ABC, listeria is a bacteria that lives in the digestive tracts of animals but is likely to cause the illness listeriosis when humans consume it. Like we discussed in our recent post mentioned above, this occurs when produce is contaminated by animal waste, such as by dirty wash water through tainted irrigation, animals were in the field, or through cross-contamination when meat and produce are manufactured in the same facility.

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March 17, 2015

Father Sues Landlord After Air Conditioning Unit Falls on Daughter

by Levin & Perconti

When we walk around the city of Chicago, we expect that we are reasonably safe. We definitely don’t expect to suddenly fall into a manhole, a piano to be dropped from a forklift, or for things to fall from the sky like a scene from a cartoon or movie. However, when people are negligent or reckless, strange and dangerous things do happen.

A recent post by the Cook County Record for instance, explains how a father is suing a Chicago landlord after an air conditioning unit cover fell and struck his daughter. The father argues that the landlord was negligent by failing to fix and repair the air conditioning unit cover or warn him of the dangerous condition.

Our attorneys stress that under premises liability law, a landowner or landlord owes a legal duty of care to those on the land or premises, such as tenants. This legal duty includes the duty to inspect the land for dangers, remedy known dangers, and to warn those on the land of known dangers. When such an accident occurs to someone living on the property, the landowner may be liable if the plaintiff can prove that the landowner’s negligence led to the injury. Often the plaintiff must show that the landowner failed to maintain the property or created the unsafe condition that was the cause of the injury.

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March 16, 2015

Centers For Disease Control: Food Poisoning Most Often From Fruits and Vegetables

by Levin & Perconti

We have often talked about the dangers of food poisoning, and how sometimes food poisoning isn’t just like a bout of the flu. In fact, in some cases, food poisoning is so intense that it can leave people with permanent injuries and the need for hospitalization and serious medical care. In one food poisoning case, our attorneys represented individuals who were injured from the food they ate at a conference, and they suffered injuries so severe that they incurred crippling arthritic injuries.

However, many of the times we’ve discussed food poisoning, we’ve discussed it in regards to meat. As many of us are aware, when meat is not properly handled or cooked the proper temperature, it can cause serious illness such as salmonella poisoning or e.coli. Furthermore, the manufacturers and grocers from which we buy our foods have a legal duty to inspect food for contamination and remove it from the stream of commerce where they find dangerous defects, or where a food is inherently unsafe for consumption unless properly handled (such as meats), then the seller must properly label the food product with instructions and warnings. When a danger is not removed or a customer is not warned, the consumer may suffer illness and injury as a result. However, the same goes with vegetables.

According to a recent study by the Centers For Disease Control and analyzed in an article by Vox, fruits and vegetables actually cause more instances of food poisoning than beef and chicken. The CDC analyzed cases of food poisoning from 2008 to 2012 and examined the four most common pathogens: E. coli, Campylobacter, salmonella, and listeria. Produce actually causes nearly half of all foodborne illnesses. Dairy and eggs cause approximately 20% of illnesses, fish are the cause in 6% of cases, and meat is the cause in a surprisingly 22% of cases.

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March 6, 2015

Illinois Oil Tanker Train Derails and Causes 1 Mile Zone of Evacuation

by Levin & Perconti

We’ve frequently posted about the dangers of train accidents, but consider when trains are transporting more than just people. As you know, Chicago is a large hub of business. Not only do we have trucks transporting goods in and out of our city for business, but trains carry a significant amount of goods and materials for our state’s businesses and operations as well. Sometimes, the goods they carry are hazardous, and when there is an accident, this is no light matter.

To exemplify how serious train accidents can be, consider a recent report by ABC 7 Chicago. According to the report, an Illinois oil train that was heading for Chicago derailed on Thursday near Galena. Upon derailing, the tanks ruptured and caught fire. The fire was so significant that several of the cars remained on fire from the time of the accident through Friday. The fire, its fumes, and the toxicity of the flames posed harm to residents nearby, who needed to evacuate the area for their safety and livelihood. What is especially troubling about this incident and others like it is that the tanker was recently fitted with protective shields meant to prevent rupturing, yet as you can see from this accident, a serious fire resulted regardless.

The oil the train was transporting was “light crude,” meaning it is more explosive and toxic than other types of oil, and it can penetrate soil. Federal authorities have blocked and dammed off the nearby Galena and Mississippi rivers from the oozing crude to avoid spread of the toxicity and dangers and to avoid contamination of water. As crude oil production and transportation increases, water contamination is a major concern because oil trains often pass within a quarter-mile of protected wetlands, drinking water reservoirs, and major waterways like Lake Michigan.

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March 5, 2015

Dirt Devil Vacuum Accessory Recalled For Laceration Hazard

by Levin & Perconti

We all have products that we use on a daily basis in our homes, such as cleaning supplies, appliances, and tools. These every day goods and products should be ones that we can purchase and use without fear that they will harm them, especially because they are so common and not inherently dangerous items. However, when a manufacturer fails to create a safe product and negligently places it in the marketplace, consumers can suffer injury as a result of this negligence from an unsuspecting product.

According to a recent report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there has been a recall of an accessory for the Dirt Devil hand vacuum. The official name of the product is the Dirt Devil Turbo Tool attachment, and it was sold as a vacuum accessory with the corded Dirt Devil Scorpion Turbo Quick Flip Hand Vac. To identify the product accessory, be aware that it is a clear yellow/green attachment with a black turbine fan and black brush roll with white bristles. The model number is “08225” and has a manufacturing date ending in 12A U, 13 A U, 13B U, or 14B U on the bottom of the hand vacuum. Consumers are advised that they can continue to use the vacuum safely but should cease use of the accessory attachment.

The report relays that the accessory has been recalled because it poses a laceration hazard. The interior fan of the accessory can break and eject from the tool’s housing. This poses a laceration hazard to the user or nearby bystanders. This accessory was sold at stores nationwide and online at Amazon and Walmart. They were sold between January 2012 and February 2015. There have been six reports of the accessory breaking in the manner described.

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February 27, 2015

Mrs. T’s Pierogies Recalled Due to Plastic Contamination

by Levin & Perconti

A favorite aisle for many at our local supermarkets is the frozen food section. The frozen food section is notorious for people’s favorite snack foods like ice cream and frozen pizzas but also provides reliable staple foods like frozen vegetables so that people can have healthy foods with a long shelf life. However, even though frozen foods are not the same as the fresh picked fruits and vegetables of the produce section, stores and manufacturers still have a legal duty of care to provide safe goods to consumers.

A recent news release distributed by Ateeco, Inc., Mrs. T’s parent company, announced that Mrs. T’s Pierogies has issued a recall due to plastic contamination in the food. After a Quality Assurance check, plastic was found in the filling of the product. The product at issue, the 16-ounce tomato and basil variety, is recalled due to the plastic contamination which poses a choking hazard. These products were sold at various grocery stores in eight states, including Illinois. They contain “best by dates” of either 05/20/16 or 07/15/16.

Our lawyers believe that customers should be able to trust that the food they buy and eat should be safe for consumption. Unfortunately though, food is one of the most common categories of items arising under product recalls and product liability lawsuits. Under this area of law, it is the duty of a store and manufacturer to inspect their products for dangers, warn consumers of known dangers, and remove the dangerous items from the stream of commerce. Where unsafe products are available for purchase in the marketplace, this is evident of negligence and a breach of that duty of care owed to customers. If someone suffers injury or wrongful death as the result of this negligence and dangers that should have never existed in a product and made available to a customer, the injured party or family may file a product liability lawsuit to hold the wrongdoing and negligent parties accountable for their breach.

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February 23, 2015

Cook County Walmart Sued for Slip and Fall

by Levin & Perconti

Most of our readers are aware that Chicago has had a lot of snow this winter in a short period of time. With so much snowfall at once, our neighborhoods have a high accumulation of snow sitting on the ground surrounding our homes, businesses, and sidewalks. As the snow melts, sitting water can accumulate or even refreeze into ice. This can occur whether from weathering increase in temperature or when accumulated snow and water is brought inside stores from consumers.

Business owners have a legal duty to keep their patrons safe from hazards and dangers under premises liability law. As consumers who enter stores with the intention to potentially do business with a store, they have the ability to benefit the store through their purchases. This is why under tort law, customers are referred to as invitees and are afforded the highest protection on commercial premises. Landowners of these premises owe invitees a duty of care to inspect premises for dangers, warn of these dangers, and remedy these dangers as quickly as possible. Where an invitee suffers injury from a hazard on a business owner’s property, the injured person can hold the business and owner liable in a personal injury lawsuit.

According to a recent article by the Cook County Record, a customer has filed suit against a Cook County Walmart for a slip and fall accident suffered last January. The plaintiff claims that Walmart failed to maintain the store premises, which caused her to slip and fall over a weather mat. The victim filed suit a few weeks ago in Cook County Circuit Court against the Walmart at 167th Street in Country Club Hills. The plaintiff slipped and fell on wet weather mats, causing her injury. She argues that Walmart and its employees failed to maintain the premises by not ensuring the mats were in a reasonably safe condition and failed to warn her about the dangerous condition. She is seeking over $50,000 in damages.

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February 20, 2015

Chicago Family Sues Cook County Sheriff’s Office for Death of Inmate

by Levin & Perconti

Wrongful death lawsuits may be initiated where a death has been caused by the fault of another person, especially where the alleged wrongdoers owed a duty of care to the deceased and where the deceased was under their care and protection.

According to an article by the Chicago Sun-Times, the family of a Cook County jail inmate has filed suit against the sheriff’s office. The inmate was beaten to death last year by another inmate, and the family is arguing that this was caused by the jail’s dangerous conditions and that guards failed to take action. The victim and five other inmates had been staying in Cell 2107 in the jail’s medical facility at Cermak Hospital. All were receiving mental health treatment at the time. Even though six inmates were assigned to the cell, there were only four beds, so some detainees with mental illness had to sit, sleep, and lounge on the floor.

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February 16, 2015

Attorney Mike Bonamarte Discusses Sledding Accidents With Local News

by Levin & Perconti

Many Chicagoans dread winter for its bitter temperatures, slippery sidewalks, the need to bundle up extensively, and the dangerous roads and backed up traffic from inclement weather. However, to others, especially our youngest members of the community, winter can be a lot of fun and a time for recreation. As you may remember from your own childhood days, children look forward to snowfall for fun and play, especially for activities like building snowmen, snowball fights, and sledding.

While winter games and activities can be a lot of fun, people sometimes do not consider the dangers and legal consequences. Our attorneys make an effort to always keep on top of local issues and safety concerns, and to relay that knowledge back to our community. That is why the media recently turned to one of our attorneys to discuss the dangers and legal repercussions associated with sledding accidents.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Mike Bonamarte, discussed sledding accidents. In recent months many local governments, including those in Illinois, have banned sledding in public parks and properties due to the dangers and risk for injuries, such as when a child’s sled collides with a tree, street sign, hidden obstacle or vehicle on municipal property. However, the report notes that the City of Chicago is unlikely to join in on this ban and representatives continually echo the warning that sledding is at one’s own risk. Additionally, state immunity laws protect local governments from liability on most public property.

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February 13, 2015

Lawsuit Filed Surrounding Fatal Hit-and-Run Crash

by Levin & Perconti

Motor vehicle accidents are often a cause of serious personal injuries or even fatalities. However, these accidents are even worse when those to blame for the crashes do not take responsibility for their wrongdoing and flee the scene. Hit-and-run accidents are wrongful not only morally but under the law as well.

The Chicago Sun Times, reports that a wrongful death lawsuit was recently filed against a woman who is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for drunkenly crashing her van into a couple and killing them. The suit is seeking $50,000 in damages for the crash and alleging that the driver is the cause of the wrongful death. The suit argues that the driver failed to keep a proper lookout or sound a horn when the vehicle approached the couple.

The accident occurred almost two years ago on Chicago’s South Side. The couple was changing a tire in the 3800 block of West 87th Street when a van, which was traveling at 60 mph, crashed into them causing their deaths. The driver had a blood-alcohol level of .194, which is over twice the legal limit. One of the victims was knocked from his shoes and thrown 200 feet. In December 2013, the driver pleaded guilty to reckless homicide and leaving the scene of an accident. She also did not have a driver’s license.

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February 9, 2015

Attorney Marvet Sweis Interviewed About Chicago Slip and Fall Accidents

by Levin & Perconti

Our Chicago attorneys make it our priority to stay on top of important issues regarding the law and safety of our community and to educate the public on legal issues relevant to them in their daily lives. Recently, Fox News reached out to us to tackle questions related to snow and ice removal related to potential premises liability litigation.

Snowy and bitter cold winters come as no surprise to Chicagoans. Our city is notorious for its harsh winters and large accumulation of snow. With so much snow, residents have a duty to shovel their driveways and sidewalks to keep the snow cleared. What many residents may not consider though, are the legal considerations regarding snow removal and shoveling.

In the report featuring attorney Marvet Sweis from our office, MyFoxChicago discussed how residents risk getting a fine or getting sued for failing to remove snow and ice from their premises in a timely manner. Many people think not shoveling their sidewalks will save them from liability if someone slips and falls in front of their home. However, Ms. Sweis relayed that isn’t the case due in part to Illinois law. She explained how the law protects residents when they shovel their driveway and sidewalk because the law recognizes that people want to be able to get in and out of their own property. Instead, homeowners can be sued only where negligent.

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