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Hope v. Hope, No. 4-09-0707 (3-4-10) affirmed that after a young daughter sued her parents for injuries sustained when she fell on muddy front steps of parents’ house, claiming distraction exception as she had forgotten about mud being on steps. Daughter’s activities which occurred between her arrival at house and her fall were everyday activities of eating, sleeping, studying, and watching TV, and did not occur during fall; thus, distraction exception does not apply. This case will impact Illinois premises liability law.

Dobyns v. Chung, M.D. No. 5-07-0568 (3-19-10) affirmed a wrongful death case filed by widower alleging over-prescribing of narcotics over long term and failure to adequately warn about risk of harm from taking several kinds of medications together. Decedent was age 31 and spouse and two minor sons survived. Jury verdict for $100,000, reduced by 50% for contributory negligence. Defense counsel had remarked during closing that if there were liability verdict of about $1 million would be fair, but jury was to disregard attorneys’ statements if not based on evidence, and it was an opinion. Jury verdict not manifestly inadequate; cannot make scientific assessment of verdict by comparison to other verdicts in state. This Illinois case will greatly impact wrongful death law.

Pickel v. Springfield Stallions, No. 4-09-0490 (3-23-10) reversed a decision where the trial court found the plaintiff, a spectator during arena football game, was injured when football player ran out of bounds, fell over a wall separating spectators from field, and collided with Plaintiff. Because Plaintiff was a spectator, not a participant, doctrine of primary assumption of risk is inapplicable, and Defendants owed her duty of care to take reasonable precautions for safety, such as adequately sturdy wall, or warnings. Defendants not foreclosed from pleading contributory negligence, which is a question of fact for jury. This Illinois case will impact premises liability law.

Kaufmann v. Schroeder, No. 109738, is a case that presented a question as to whether a trial court had properly dismissed plaintiffs’ claims of negligent hiring, negligent supervision and negligent infliction of emotional distress arising out of allegations that doctor employed by defendant-municipal hospital committed unwanted sex act on plaintiff, where dismissal was based on expiration of one-year statute of limitations period found in section 8-101(a) of Tort Immunity Act. While plaintiff argued that applicable limitations period should have been two-year period found in section 8-101(b) of Tort Immunity Act, Appellate Court, in affirming dismissal, found that section 8-101(a) of Tort Immunity Act applied since doctor’s actions were unrelated to providing patient care, and plaintiff’s injuries otherwise did not result from her patient care. (Dissent filed.) This Illinois Supreme Court Ruling will have an effect on the tort immunity act.

Pence v. Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Corporation, No. 1-08-3668 (2-3-10) found that when the plaintiff parked his car in Metra parking lot, and walked diagonally across the street, and in middle of street tripped on bolt protruding from railroad tie. Metra owed no duty to Plaintiff as he was not a passenger, as he had not yet boarded train and had not purchased train ticket that morning, even though Plaintiff stated that he had monthly train pass and intended to board train. Plaintiff was not in a crosswalk at time of his fall, thus he was not intended user of middle of street and Metra owed no duty of care to him. This case will impact Illinois premises liability law.

House Bill 5381 would allow the circuit court to give required notice to a party by email if the party has an electronic address. Requires that the circuit clerk maintain a copy of the electronic content and a delivery receipt in his or her records. Gives electronic notices the same effect as a hard copy notice. This bill would have a large impact on Illinois lawyers.

Norman v. Brandt, no. 4-09-0246 (2-4-10) is a case where the Plaintiff alleged that Defendant, who offered to lead cars of friends who were heading to lake to swim, drove his vehicle “in concert” with driver of vehicle from which Plaintiff was thrown to cause his injuries and death. The appellate court affirmed the district court’s decision that granted summary judgment for Defendant because Plaintiff’s vehicle was following closely behind Defendant on a narrow country road and careened off road and rolled over in field. Despite Defendant having exceeded speed limit, he did not commit tort in concert, per Restatement of Torts Section 876, as not attempting to race, no horseplay, and did not drive in way to encourage or substantially assist other driver to driver tortiously. This case will impact Illinois per se negligence.

Jackson v. Ford Motor Company, No. 5-05-0723 affirmed a jury verdict for $43 million, including $15 million in punitive damages. The plaintiffs, in 1993 Lincoln Town Car, were rear-ended in dead center of car, at about 60 mph; fuel tank was crushed, and pipe wrench in trunk pierced fuel tank and caught fire immediately; both were severely burned and one Plaintiff died. Products liability and four negligence claims as to design of fuel tank. Court declined to extend due-process analysis of excessive punitive-damage awards to liability for punitive damages. Court concluded both parties received fair trial, as jury heard extensive evidence from both sides, and contested issues were fully and fairly presented. Ample evidence of standard of care and of alternative fuel tank locations recognized and used in auto industry. Defendant failed to submit special interrogatories and thus cannot claim prejudice on claim alleged to be unsupported by sufficient evidence. Proper to admit evidence of Defendant’s pre-injury, post-sale safety improvements, as policy considerations that bar admission of post-accident remedial measures are inapplicable. This case will impact products liability law in Illinois.

Erie Insurance Exchange v. Triana, Nos. 1-08-3310 (2-3-10) affirmed a decision ruling that a driver and a passenger who were in an automobile accident in Galena with an underinsured motorist should have been grated summary judgment. The summary judgment for the underinsured motorist was proper where the trial court found setoff provisions of the policy were not ambiguous; and only $100,000 in total UIM benefits remained for all defendant after setoff by $200,000 total paid to both by other driver’s insurer. Underinsured motorists split limits of $300,000 per person/$300,000 per accident, but with setoff provision that these limits would be set off by aggregate amount paid by tortfeasor. This case will impact automobile accident law.

Pence v. Northeast Illinois Regional Committee Corporation, No. 1-08-3668 (2-3-10) affirmed a decision ruling that since the plaintiff parked his car in the Metra parking lot, and then walked diagonally across the street, and it was in middle of street tripped on bolt protruding from railroad tie, Metra owed no duty to Plaintiff as he was not a passenger, as he had not yet boarded train and had not purchased train ticket that morning, even though Plaintiff stated that he had monthly train pass and intended to board train. Plaintiff was not in a crosswalk at time of his fall, thus he was not intended user of middle of street and Metra owed no duty of care to him. This Illinois case will impact premises liability.

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