The Illinois Appellate Court for the 1st District reversed and remanded a decision entered by a judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County. The issue on appeal was focused on a non-manufacturing defendant in a product-liability case. The defendant identified the manufacturer in order to be dismissed from strict liability in a tort claim. There was a question as to whether the manufacturer was not subject to the court’s jurisdiction and whether the plaintiff should be permitted to reinstate the non-manufacturing defendant.

In this case, Martin Cassidy was working at a warehouse when a flexible bulk container belonging to China Vitamins ripped and leaked, which made the entire stack of containers unstable. One of the stacked containers fell on Cassidy, injuring him.

In 2007, he filed a lawsuit against China Vitamins. The lawsuit alleged strict liability, negligent product liability and one count under res ipsa loquitur.

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A breach of lease case resulted in a $278,198 default judgment, which was Count II of a Complaint brought by A.L. Dougherty Real Estate and Phyllis K. Dougherty. The complaint was filed against Cube Global LLC and March Fasteners Inc.  The complaint alleged that Cube Global was liable as March’s alter ego.

A bench trial was held.  The plaintiff presented evidence that Cube Global, which was incorporated while the lease case was pending, wound up with all of March Fastener’s assets and customers.

With the underlying decree boosted by fees, costs and interest, the judgment against Cube Global was $676,222. The judgment was against Su Chin Tsai, whose 16-year-old daughter was listed as Cube’s incorporator, and it totaled $435,584.

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Victoria Metal Processor Co. bought an insurance policy from Nautilus Insurance Co. to provide insurance coverage to Vivify Construction for accidents involving negligence by Victoria for a construction project in which Vivify was the general contractor.

Nautilus refused to cover a lawsuit filed by a Victoria Metal Processor employee, Pablo Vieyra, who fell from a second-story scaffold because of the alleged negligent supervision by Vivify.

There were two “injury to employee” exclusions in the body of the Nautilus Insurance policy that said it didn’t apply to tort claims by the employees of any subcontractors. Vivify appealed from a judgment that concluded that Nautilus Insurance was not obligated to defend Vivify, the general contractor.  It was argued on appeal that the trial court judge erred in choosing not to consider the terms of the subcontract between Vivify and Victoria.

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There have been multiple reports of deaths and/or agonizing, horrible injuries caused when motorists strike highway or road guardrails designed and manufactured by Lindsay Corp., the maker and designer of X-LITE guardrails.

The recent lawsuits filed in South Carolina and Tennessee allege that Lindsay Corp. was negligent in design of the X-LITE guardrails, which are supposed to absorb impact when vehicles hit them. Instead, the guardrails have been known to pierce through motor vehicles either killing drivers and passengers or severely injuring those in such vehicles.

In April 2017, a woman died in Spartanburg County, SC, when the SUV that her husband was driving went off the road running into the guardrail. On impact, the beams from the guardrail pierced through the vehicle’s exterior and frame puncturing all the way through to the backseat on the passenger side.

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Marc Rene, 34, was driving his sedan northbound on a two-lane road. Patrick Chancey was driving a tractor-trailer owned by Pat Salmon & Sons of Florida when he pulled out of a truck yard and made a wide turn onto the roadway.  This caused the tractor-trailer to enter the northbound lanes, which resulted in a collision with the Rene vehicle.

Rene suffered fractures to his right hip and knee and a degloving injury to his right heel. He underwent hip and knee surgeries. It is anticipated that additional surgeries are needed. Rene continues to suffer pain from these injuries and incurred medical expenses of nearly $230,700.

He sued Pat Salmon & Sons and Chancey, claiming that Chancey chose not to yield the right-of-way.  The lawsuit did not claim lost income.

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S.V. and Hemalatha Gopalratnam sued the laptop manufacturer Hewlett-Packard claiming that its battery pack maker, DynaPack Technology Corp. and battery cell manufacturer, Samsung SDI Co. Ltd. were a cause of the death of their son, Arun Gopalratnam who died in a fire in the basement bedroom of the Gopalratnam’s home. An autopsy showed that Arun’s death was caused by smoke inhalation.

The origin of this fire was said to have been near the mattress of Arun’s bed, according to Special Agent Antonio H. Martinez of the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigations. Included in the debris was the HP laptop, a Nokia cellphone and 2 or 3 laptop battery cells in the basement bedroom and a third laptop battery cell in the debris, which was shoveled into the backyard.

The lawsuit included claims of negligence, strict product liability and breach of warranty. To support these claims, the Gopalratnam family hired two expert witnesses who gave opinion testimony at trial that one of the three battery cells experienced “thermal runaway,” which generated high temperatures causing the cell to explode and catch fire.

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In a personal injury lawsuit filed in Cook County concerning the pedestrian-vehicle collision that severely injured 2-year-old Angela Williams, the attorney representing Williams nonsuited the lawsuit in order to refile it with a jury demand. The plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the second amended complaint in April 2017 before refiling it days later, this time with a jury demand.

The same motion judge was assigned to the case. A month later, the defendant, Gregory Leonard, moved to substitute the motion court judge. The judge denied Leonard’s motion based on his interpretation of the Illinois Supreme Court case of Bowman v. Ottney, 2015 IL 119000.

Because the motion court judge thought that if he was wrong, it would hamper the progress of this case, he allowed the parties to file an interlocutory appeal. The issue on appeal was interpretation of Section 2-1001(a)(2) of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, which gives the parties the right to substitute judges once without cause before substantive case issues had been decided.  The Illinois Supreme Court in Bowman, held that the provision should not be used for “judge shopping” by plaintiffs.

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In an uninsured motorist case, Holly Shakelford sued Allstate Fire & Casualty Insurance Co. for 9 percent interest on a $16,000 arbitration award. She was seeking the 9% statutory interest provided by Section 2-1303 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure.

A more accurate term for Section 2-1303 is the “Judgment Interest Statute,” the Supreme Court explained in Illinois State Toll Highway Authority v. Heritage Standard Bank, 157 Ill.2d 282 (1993). The law provides for 9% interest on arbitration awards, jury verdicts and reports from special masters – as part of the judgment entered on the award, verdict or report – running back to the date of the initial decision. In addition to providing 9% interest on judgments, Section 2-1303 also provides for prejudgment interest on awards, verdicts and reports.

This case was complicated because Shakelford’s claim was that the arbitrator ruled $16,000 was the “gross award,” subject to setoffs and liens “to be resolved by the parties and their attorneys.”  The second issue or twist to the case was that Shakelford sued without first applying for confirmation of the award under the Uniform Arbitration Act.

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In July 2015, Henry Walker, a retired Army sergeant, was at a Wal-Mart store in Phenix City, Ala., when his foot got caught in a wooden pallet and he fell, fracturing his foot and hip. He was 59 years old at the time of this accident. He sought damages against Wal-Mart for negligence.

The jury’s verdict of $2.5 million in compensatory damages included another $5 million in punitive damages.  Walker, who lives in Phenix City, was represented by attorneys Charlie Gower, Shawn O’Hara and David Rayfield. According to the report of this case, the jury trial began on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 and continued until Wednesday, Nov. 15, with a jury reaching its verdict the same day after two hours of deliberation.

According to the attorneys for Walker, Wal-Mart should have covered the pallet so that it would not entangle a shopper’s foot. Wal-Mart countered that argument by maintaining that the display was not dangerous and that the cause of Walker’s injuries was his own negligence. According to Wal-Mart, the same displays are still in use.

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According to a recent American Bar Association Journal article written by Scott Carlson, trial consultants are turning to a proprietary software and technology information service for a product called Voltaire for jury selection. At least in my jury trial experience, selecting the jury is the most difficult and anxiety-ridden part of a trial. It must also be considered the most important aspect of the trial.

In practice, I have used trial consultants regularly to help select jurors who would be most receptive to the kind of case brought before them. Trial consultants are extremely objective in how they evaluate prospective jurors, their backgrounds, experiences, work histories and family backgrounds and are essential in the jury selection process. There’s been no practical way to search on the fly what the social media references show about a potential juror. That information could be especially valuable to deselect a prospective jury member.

The days of human-to-human contact in jury selection may be changing. Instead, lawyers could eventually rely on the technical information services of a software product such as Voltaire to pick appropriate jurors.

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