In 2006, Kipling Development Corp. was building a home in Will County, Ill. Kipling was the general contractor on the job.  The firm hired subcontractors to handle specific pieces of the job, including Speed-Drywall and United Floor Covering.

A service technician, Brian Harwell, entered the worksite to replace a furnace filter, using the stairs leading to the first floor to the basement. In the process, the stairs collapsed beneath Harwell, sending him falling into the basement. He sustained serious injuries and filed a lawsuit against Kipling as the general contractor of the building site.

In the lawsuit, it was alleged that Kipling was negligent in choosing not to properly supervise and direct construction and failing to furnish Harwell with a safe workplace and a safe stairway. In addition, Harwell also sued Speed-Drywall and United Floor Covering, claiming that they had modified or failed to secure the stairwell.

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Kerry Hogland was 36 years old when driving her sedan on a highway near Fredericktown, Mo. An employee of Town & Country Grocers of Fredericktown drove onto the highway from an on-ramp. The driver of the Town & Country Grocers vehicle did not heed a stop sign at the end of the ramp and crashed broadside into Hogland’s sedan on the passenger side.

Hogland’s vehicle spun out of control and landed in a field next to the highway.

She suffered an intracranial hemorrhage, an epidural hematoma that necessitated a craniotomy and a skull fracture that left her deaf in her right ear. A craniotomy is a surgical procedure where a bone flap is removed from the skull to allow access to the brain. The surgery removes a part of the bone from the skull to expose the brain. The bone flap is temporarily removed and then replaced after the brain surgery is completed.  Obviously, this is a very serious and dangerous surgery.

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On April 12, 2012, Jennifer Hawkins was stopped at a red light on westbound 127th Street in Lemont, Ill.  The defendant, 18-year-old Nicole Barrett, rear-ended the car right behind Hawkins, which pushed that car into Hawkins’s car. The force of the impact totaled the middle vehicle (a Chevy Suburban) and caused nearly $5,000 in property damage to Hawkins’s Toyota Matrix. The crash also resulted in $4,727 in property damage to Barrett’s minivan.

Hawkins, 35, filed this lawsuit against Barrett maintaining that the crash caused her to have neck and lower back sprains, a protruding disc at C5-6, cervical and lumbar facet syndrome, cervical and lumbar radiculopathy and aggravation of her scoliosis, or curvature of the spine. Hawkins underwent multiple facet joint injections, several nerve blocks and cervical and lumbar radiofrequency ablation treatment. She introduced evidence of $227,563 of past medical expenses and $6,589 in lost wages where she worked as a cashier.

Her treating physician testified that she was a candidate for a future spinal cord stimulator implant, lumbar fusion and continued interventional pain management treatment.

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Dennis Seay worked for Daniel Construction Co., which was a contractor for Celanese Corp. From 1971 through 1980, he did maintenance work at the Celanese polyester fiber plant located in Spartanburg, S.C. Seay was exposed to asbestos-containing products while working at Celanese. The different jobs that Seay had included handling various brands of gaskets, packing and insulation manufactured by John Crane Inc. and others for use on and in equipment throughout the Celanese plant.

In 2013, Seay at age 69 was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Seay underwent 3 procedures to reduce the size of his tumor and multiple procedures to drain fluid from his lung, which had collapsed on various occasions. Seay unfortunately died the following year at age 70. He was survived by his wife, two adult sons and one adult daughter.

Seay’s daughter, individually and on behalf of his estate and his wife, sued Celanese Corp. alleging that the company was aware of exposure to asbestos products used throughout the plant but chose not to warn of the dangers or to take other steps to protect workers like Seay. The Seay family contended that Celanese was in complete control of the plant and was responsible for auditing the safety program provided by Seay’s employer to ensure that it was adequate.

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has affirmed a district court decision where sanctions were allowed in the form of attorney fees. The court of appeals stated that under Federal Rule 37, sanctions may include an order to pay the amount of reasonable expenses incurred in preparing the motion for sanctions, including attorney fees.

In March 2012, Angel Houston sued Hyatt Corp. and the Hyatt Regency Inn for breach of contract, intentional misconduct and negligence. The lawsuit arose out of injuries Houston suffered after falling at the downtown Indianapolis Hyatt Hotel during a hotel-sponsored New Year’s Eve party on Dec. 31, 2010.

Houston claimed that Hyatt chose not to provide a safe and secure environment for the party and that this failure was the proximate cause of her injuries. Damages were sought in excess of $1 million.

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The Illinois Supreme Court case of Kotecki v. Cyclops Welding, 146 Ill.2d 155 (1991) is the decision by the court that stands for the law that an employer may avoid contribution liability by waiving its lien under Section 5(b) of the Workers’ Compensation Act. This is in reference to the so-called “Kotecki cap” and affirmative defense that an employer has pleaded and then proved at trial. The question is: Can the employer invoke Kotecki with a post-judgment motion supported by affidavits specifying the amount of benefits it paid to the injured employee?

This is the issue that was taken up by the Illinois Appellate Court for the 3rd District in this Illinois case. Nacin Burhmester was injured while he was working for L.J. Keefe Co. Burhmester prevailed in a trial and received a verdict of $534,608 against Steve Spiess Construction Co.

Spiess in turn sued Keefe for contribution in a third-party action. The answer to the contribution claim by Keefe included an affirmative defense based on Kotecki.  Although Keefe paid benefits to Burhmester totaling $95,487 under the workers’ compensation policy of insurance, it did not present any evidence on this defense during the contribution trial.

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago has affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s decision regarding a third-party lawsuit.

Sam Chee was driving with his wife, Toni Chee, in August 2010 when their car slammed into a tree. Toni was seriously injured and taken to a hospital where she died within a week. The estate of Toni Chee filed two lawsuits. One was against Sam Chee for negligent driving and another was against the hospital and the attending physicians claiming medical negligence was a cause of Toni’s death.

The defendants in the medical malpractice claim filed a third-party action against Sam Chee, seeking contribution or other compensation from him should the medical defendants be held liable to the estate.

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There were eight cases, all involving claims by or on behalf of the estates of now deceased former workers of the defendant Weyerhaeuser Co. The former workers had claimed that their nonoccupational exposure to asbestos was the cause of their injuries and subsequent deaths.

Weyerhaeuser operated a door manufacturing facility in Marshfield, Wis., from 1960 to 2000. It was there that the company manufactured wood products with multiple operations and divisions on that site. The defendant manufactured a door containing asbestos in the plant from 1968 until it stopped using asbestos in 1978.

The evidence in these cases showed that asbestos dust was emitted from the Weyerhaeuser plant. It was also shown that Weyerhaeuser hauled asbestos dust and scrap waste through landfills into the surrounding community. All of the eight plaintiffs in the case were employed by Weyerhaeuser at the Marshfield plant during the relevant time period assigned to varying job duties.

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After much deliberation, two years ago Illinois lawmakers crafted a more lenient law for the transferring of juveniles to adult courts for some serious crimes. The idea was to give judges the clear opportunity to judge or to use their discretion for juveniles charged with serious crimes who were  16 years of age rather than to simply automatically transfer these juveniles to the adult court system. The new amendment increased the mandatory transfer age from 15 to 16 for crimes such as first-degree murder and aggravated sexual assault.

Ronald Patterson, a juvenile, was just 15 years old when he was arrested for allegedly committing rape.  He was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 36 years in prison in an adult court after he was automatically transferred there. The issue now is whether the new law on automatic transfers, part of the Juvenile Court Act, should be applied to juveniles retrospectively. The new law and the applicable age change would have made a significant difference had the law been applied back in 2014. Should Patterson be allowed to be re-sentenced under the current law?

The nine-page Illinois Appellate Court opinion written by Justice P. Scott Neville stated that in applying the Statute on Statutes, that unless the legislature specifically says the amended provision does not apply retroactively, it generally should apply in such fashion.

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In a new piece of legislation, 735 ILCS 35/1, et seq., Illinois joins more than three dozen other states in enacting some form of the Uniform Interstate Deposition and Discovery Act. The act creates a simpler means in which to conduct discovery out of state. This will make it easier for lawyers in Illinois to issue subpoenas for out-of-state discovery in a pending local case.

The limitation of the new statute will allow Illinois lawyers to conduct discovery outside of Illinois in those states that have adopted the same or similar act.

The act requires minimal judicial oversight and eliminates the need for obtaining a commission, local counsel and filing a miscellaneous action in the state in which the discovery is being done. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed SB45, enacting the law in Illinois on July 20, 2015. The law applies to actions that were pending as of Jan. 1, 2016.

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