On July 21, 2007, Terri Whitehead was involved in a two-car crash in Wisconsin. The driver of the other car did not have insurance. Section 143.1 of the Illinois Insurance Code saved Whitehead’s uninsured motorist claim from being barred by a two-year deadline for initiating arbitration.

Although Whitehead did not demand arbitration on her uninsured motorist (UM) claim against Country Preferred Insurance Co. within two years of when she was injured by the uninsured motorist, and she failed to select an arbitrator when she eventually demanded arbitration, she did notify Country Preferred a few hours after the crash, plus she promptly filled out and returned its “notice of claim” form.

The notice of claim form was sufficient to trigger Section 143.1 which provides:

“Whenever any policy or contract for insurance * * * contains a provision limiting the period within which the insured may bring suit, the running of such period is tolled from the date proof of loss is filed, in whatever form is required by the policy, until the date the claim is denied in whole or in part.”

Continue reading

Heron Salgado, a construction worker, was employed by Abel Building & Restoration in January 2011 when he was assigned to work at a job site at 51st Street. He was working on a scaffold design that was built, erected and maintained by Designed Equipment Acquisition Corp. While he was working at that site, he was injured twice. Once on Jan. 17, 2011, Salgado was injured when a heavy bucket fell and struck him. Two days later he was injured again when he fell into an “opening” in the scaffolding.

Salgado filed a lawsuit against Designed Equipment in December 2012. Designed tendered its defense for this case first to its own insurance company and then to Pekin Insurance Co. who were Abel’s insurers, maintaining that Abel was an “additional insured” under Abel’s policy with Pekin.

Pekin rejected the tender of defense and filed a complaint seeking declaratory judgment. Pekin first claimed that Designed was not an additional insured under the contractor’s endorsement and also that the lease between Abel and Designed was an “insured contract” and therefore void under the Construction Contract Indemnification for Negligence Act.

Continue reading

The Illinois Supreme Court has handed down a decision that affirmed a December 2015 ruling by Cook County Associate Judge William E. Gomolinski. The original lawsuit was a medical-malpractice case filed no more than a month after the law, which permitted a unilateral decision by a party to empanel 6-person juries.

The law was approved in the days just after Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner defeated Democratic Gov. Patrick J. Quinn in 2014 and was seen by many as a gift from Democrats to their allies in the plaintiffs’ bar. The argument for the law was that jurors were not paid appropriately for missing work or taking time away from family and school. The law also had increased the rate the jurors were paid across the state from a high of $17.20 per day in Cook County to $25 on the first day of service and $50 each day thereafter.

It was also argued that federal courts and other states use 6-member juries without issue. But Section 1, Article 13 of the State Constitution says, “[T]he right to trial by jury as heretofore enjoyed shall remain inviolate.”

Continue reading

In a memorandum opinion written by a Cook County Circuit Court Chancery judge, it was ruled that an exhibit to the complaint did not control contrary allegations because the documents served as “mere evidence” rather than the foundation for a claim.

The judge’s opinion reflected that Illinois National Insurance Co. and American Home Assurance Co. filed the lawsuit as “subrogees of their insured Panduit Corp.” They claimed Arch Insurance Co. breached “its duty to indemnify Panduit” for an action in which Ronald Bayer allegedly “fell from a steel beam and was severely injured while working as an iron-worker for Area Erectors Inc.” at Panduit’s DeKalb, Ill., warehouse.

Bayer filed a lawsuit for his injury against Panduit and Garbe Iron Works. Panduit later filed a third-party complaint against Area Erectors for contribution.

Continue reading

It comes as no surprise for those who have any connection with or knowledge of the Cook County jail, but in a report from California states that more than 33,000 mentally ill inmates account for about 25% of the entire prison population in that state.  It is well- known in Cook County that many of the approximately 10,000 inmates squeezed into the Cook County jail are represented by at least 2,500 mentally ill persons.

In California, in recent years, the number of mentally ill inmates in its prison has nearly doubled.  The same may well be true in Illinois where the state has faced closings of mental health facilities and other state run hospitals that have cared for mentally ill patients in the past.  State budget cuts have crippled or closed many of these mental health facilities.  Those persons who are mentally ill literally have no place to go and are repeatedly picked up by the police locally, state-wide and imprisoned usually in the local county jail system.

Also adding to the prison population of the mentally ill is the fact that some states and the federal government have increased the penalties for drug use.  As a result, the mentally ill who often use drugs as a way to “self-medicate”, prisons in Illinois and around the country are filling up with these patients.

The Illinois Appellate Court has reversed a Circuit Court judge’s order dismissing a lawsuit related to insurance coverage. John Smolinski was in a car accident on March 3, 2012. At the time, Smolinski was driving a rented car. Mr. Smolinski had previously entered into a “personal auto policy” with Allmerica Financial Alliance Insurance Co.

On September 27, 2012, Smolinski filed a lawsuit pro se against Allmerica claiming that it had violated the terms of the insurance contract by refusing to pay for damages to Smolinski’s car.

Allmerica filed its appearance and a hearing was set for December 17. Smolinski was not present at the December 17 court hearing and the matter was dismissed for want of prosecution.

The defendant Southern Illinois Hospital Services d/b/a Herrin Hospital (Herrin Hospital) appealed from the trial court’s July 25, 2014 order adjudicating liens and distributing the settlement proceeds from an injury case. Herrin Hospital contended that the trial judge improperly included Medicare, Medicare Part D and Medicaid “liens” in the total amount of liens subject to the 40% cap mandated by the Illinois Healthcare Services Lien Act. Because the court allowed 100% reimbursement of the Medicare and Medicaid liens, Herrin Hospital’s reimbursement was substantially decreased.

In addition, Herrin Hospital claimed that the trial court improperly required the lien holders to pay the plaintiff Edwin McKim’s cost of suit pursuant to the Common Fund Doctrine. The Illinois Appellate Court — in its decision — found that the judgment ordered distributing the settlement was contrary to the plain language of the Healthcare Services Lien Act and is in conflict with Medicare’s secondary payer provision and the Illinois Public Aid Code. Additionally, the trial court’s assessment of court costs to Herrin Hospital and Williamson County Ambulance does not comply with the Illinois Supreme Court’s decisions on this topic.

The appeal involved the adjudication of liens under the Healthcare Services Lien Act (770 ILCS 23/1 et seq.). The Healthcare Services Lien Act limits the total amount of liens to 40% of the verdict. At issue is whether bills owed to Medicare, Medicare Part D and Medicaid can be included in the 40% cap under the Healthcare Services Lien Act. Also at issue is whether the 40% of the settlement is a “common fund” created for the benefit of the lienholders and whether the plaintiff’s attorney’s costs should be paid by the lienholders from their pro rata shares of the 40% of the settlement.

Continue reading

Gilbert Gail Gerth was riding his lawnmower down a street when he was rear-ended by a pickup truck. The incident killed Gerth. At the time of the collision, the defendant pickup owner and driver, Gary Sachau, was insured under an automobile insurance policy with a $30,000 liability limit.

Gerth had an automobile insurance policy as well with an underinsured-motorist liability limit of $100,000 per person.  In addition, Gerth had an umbrella insurance policy with Grinnell Select Insurance Co. with an underinsured-motorist liability limit of $1 million per accident.

Dawn Goldstein, the executor of the estate for Gilbert Gerth, settled the claim against Sachau for $30,000, and her underinsured claim against Hartford for $100,000 minus $30,000 recovered from the settlement with Sachau.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading