Mary Perry Carmichael was an employee at Union Pacific Railroad Co. (UPRC).  In that capacity, she was being transported by Professional Transportation Inc. (PTI) in a van when it was hit by a vehicle driven by Dwayne Bell. Carmichael filed a lawsuit against UPRC, PTI and Bell; the suits against UPRC and PTI were dismissed.  Carmichael settled with Bell for $20,000, the maximum liability coverage under his auto insurance policy.

Carmichael also filed a declaratory judgment suit in chancery against PTI, UPRC and ACE American Insurance Co., PTI’s insurer, alleging that PTI was legally responsible for her injury because it chose not to carry the statutory mandated amount of insurance in violation of Section 8-101(c) of the Illinois Vehicle Code.

PTI argued that Section 8-101(c) provided no civil remedy for such a violation and moved to dismiss on this basis. The trial court found that the statute implied a private right of action and denied the motion. PTI also filed a counterclaim for declaratory judgment, seeking Section 8-101(c) to be declared unconstitutional, but this was dismissed.

Continue reading

The Illinois Supreme Court has reversed a lower court’s ruling in a case involving an alleged breach of fiduciary duty.

In this case, the trial court first ruled that, although defendants had breached their fiduciary duties to the plaintiff, Indeck Energy Services, Indeck had failed to establish any usurpation of a corporate opportunity. The court found that both the turbine and the funding opportunities were still available to Indeck at the time of trial.

After a bench trial in favor of the defendant, the appellate court then reversed the trial court’s ruling, holding that it was “immaterial” whether a corporate opportunity still existed for Indeck. 2019 IL App (2d) 190043.  According to the appellate court, once Indeck established that defendants DePodesta and Dahlstrom had breached their fiduciary duty by choosing not to disclose or tender the funding opportunity to Indeck, that “answered in the affirmative the corporate-usurpation question.”

Continue reading

Sean Kleefeld, who was in his mid-40s, was leaving a commuter train and crossing a busy Chicago street in a crowd of other commuters. David Breese allegedly turned his vehicle onto the street, accelerated, fishtailed and hit Kleefeld, who suffered catastrophic injuries, including a compound fracture of his left femur and a fractured and dislocated right shoulder.

Kleefeld underwent surgery to place a titanium rod and other multiple screws and plates in his leg. He required months of physical therapy. His medical expenses totaled $275,000. In addition, Kleefeld missed eleven weeks from his job as a technology worker, where he earned approximately $105,000 per year.

Kleefeld, a marathon runner, was able to resume an active life. However, he sued Breese, alleging improper lookout.  Three eyewitnesses testified that although Kleefeld had been crossing in the middle of the street, it was the defendant Breese who was responsible for this incident.

Continue reading

In a federal district court matter, the district judge ruled that the obligation of a defendant who settled a negligence lawsuit wasn’t “uncollectible” and would not be reallocated between the remaining tortfeasors.

The Illinois Supreme Court, answering a question presented by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, concluded that “the obligation of a tortfeasor who settles is ‘not uncollectible’ within the meaning of Section 3.” Section 3 is part of the Illinois Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act, which states that “no person shall be required to contribute to one seeking contribution an amount greater than his pro rata share,” except when “the obligation of one or more of the joint tortfeasors is uncollectible.”

Two of the seven Illinois Supreme Court justices dissented with a view that this ruling undermined the legislative goal of promoting settlements. The dissent stated that the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision “would likely require the General Assembly to revisit the Contribution Act.”

Continue reading

Mr. Doe was riding his moped in Raleigh, N.C., when he was struck from behind by a driver of Roe Co. truck.  A bystander who witnessed the crash chased the driver of the truck and wrote down the truck’s license number, which was traced back to the Roe Co.

Mr. Doe suffered rib fractures and a collapsed lung, which required a 79-day hospitalization. During that time, Mr. Doe suffered a stroke, which led to his further decline.

Mr. Doe claimed that Roe Co. was liable for the truck driver’s conduct. The Doe attorney was able to ascertain the identity of the driver using Google Earth, which showed the truck parked outside of the driver’s home.

Continue reading

Katherine Black sued two defendants for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Ultimately, the trial did not go as she had expected; the jury rejected her claims.

On appeal, she argued that her trial was riddled with errors. She requested that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit overturn the jury’s verdict for several reasons. However, the court of appeals found there were no errors that warranted a reversal; therefore her request for a new trial was denied.

In 2012, the plaintiff, Katherine Black, and her husband Bernard were professors at Northwestern University School of Law.  In 2012, Bernard’s mother passed away and left behind roughly a $3 million estate. The Blacks expected to inherit 1/3 of that estate. As it turned out, Bernard’s mother cut them out of their will and left virtually the entire estate to Bernard’s homeless and mentally ill sister, Joanne, who lived in Denver. In late 2012, Bernard had himself appointed Joanne’s conservator and then worked to redirect much of her inheritance to himself and his wife.

Continue reading

The U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, affirmed the trial court’s decision that granted the defendant manufacturer’s (Clark Equipment Co.) motion to exclude the plaintiff’s expert witness and for summary judgment in the plaintiff’s strict product liability lawsuit. In this case, it was alleged that the plaintiff was injured because of the design defect in the Clark Equipment’s skid-steer loader when the loader tipped over on the plaintiff and severely damaged his leg, foot and ankle.

The plaintiff’s-controlled experts stated that the design of the loader, which provided for a 62-inch low-profile bucket, made it highly likely that the loader would tip over on plaintiff when the bucket would have been loaded in excess of 1,300-1,400 lb. capacity. The appeals court also ruled that the district court could properly find that the expert’s opinion did not meet the standard set forth in Federal Rules of Evidence 702 and Daubert, since:

(1) the expert had never used the skid-steer loader to pick up or move material and had not tested this design theory on neither the instant loader or similar loaders of equipment; (2) the evidence from others regarding operation of the loader did not support the expert’s opinion, where the individuals disclaim any personal knowledge or experience with other tipping or bouncing incidents; (3) the expert did not know the weight of the load that plaintiff was lifting at the time of the incident and thus this expert could only speculate that the size of the bucket was cause of the injuries to plaintiff; and (4) the expert chose not to account for and investigate potential alternative causes of this incident.

Continue reading

The Illinois Appellate Court has affirmed the general verdict in a second jury trial. The first jury trial resulted in a hung jury.

The plaintiff’s decedent had been admitted at a young age to multiple nursing homes and hospitals with an incurable, fatal neurodegenerative disease. The estate for the plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against one of the decedent’s treating physicians, maintaining actual claims under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act and the Survival Act.

The plaintiff’s estate alleged that the decedent was abused and neglected at her last nursing home, which defendant chose not to report.

Continue reading

Marikate Maggio, an 18-year-old student, was driving a Mini Cooper on a highway when she arrived at an intersection with a traffic light. She attempted to turn left when a tractor-trailer driven by Miguel Garcia-Moreno crashed into her vehicle. Maggio suffered traumatic injuries and died twenty minutes later. She was survived by her mother.

Maggio’s mother, individually and on behalf of Maggio’s estate, sued Garcia-Moreno’s employer, 48Forty Solutions LLC, claiming negligent retention and choosing not to perform a proper background check on Garcia-Moreno or providing him with adequate supervision and training.

The Maggios maintained that the dashcam would have showed Garcia-Moreno had run a red light. The Maggios also alleged that the defendant trucking company had written up Garcia-Moreno three times for preventable collisions in addition to other preventable incidences that allegedly occurred while Garcia-Moreno was working for other trucking companies.

Continue reading

Heather Roush was in her 20s and 35 weeks pregnant. She was with her husband, Jayneson Roush, 37, when they checked into the Kimball, a condominium hotel. The Roushes were celebrating their wedding anniversary. Their hotel room was located next to the hotel’s boiler room, which became filled with carbon monoxide when exhaust from a boiler vented into the boiler room and the building’s hotel room instead of into the outside.

Heather and Jayneson fell ill and went to a nearby hospital where testing revealed they were suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Despite hyperbaric chamber therapy, both Heather and Jayneson sustained permanent brain damage. The brain damage manifested itself in memory and word-finding difficulties, noise intolerance, anxiety and depression. Additionally, the birth of Heather’s baby was complicated by her condition.

Continue reading