Ricky Murphy rode his bicycle across the street at an intersection when a motor vehicle driven by the defendant Stephen Lane Hare collided with him. Murphy who was 49 at the time suffered a fractured left ankle and tibia.

Because of the fractures, his ankle developed necrosis, which will necessitate a future ankle fusion surgery or an ankle replacement. Murphy’s medical expenses totaled $44,000.

As a landscaper, he was earning approximately $20,000 per year.  Now he is unable to do that job and works as a Salvation Army intake clerk at a reduced salary.

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This was a pretrial hearing on the motion to add a punitive damage count to a complaint against the Catholic Bishop of Chicago for alleged negligent conduct in hiring, supervising and retaining a priest who allegedly abused John Doe when he was a third-grade student at St. Agatha Academy. The archdiocese argued that Doe shouldn’t have to prove that representatives actually knew about the priest’s wrongdoing and wicked proclivities.

The trial judge ruled that Doe’s evidence about the “utter indifference” of archdiocesan employees’ safety for the young students could justify an exemplary or a claim of punitive damages. The judge certified the question of law for immediate appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court. The appeals panel concluded that the judge “used the appropriate standard” in concluding that Doe may demand punitive damages in his amended complaint.

“Simply put,” Justice Sheldon A. Harris explained, “the trial court may allow a claim for punitive damages if the evidence would reasonably support a finding that defendant acted willfully, or with such gross negligence as to indicate a wanton disregard of the rights of others.”

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has reversed a decision by a district court judge of the Southern District of Illinois. Reginald Pittman was a pretrial detainee in the Madison County Jail when he hanged himself from the bars of his cell with a blanket. He did not die, but he sustained brain damage that left him in a vegetative state, cared for entirely by his mother without any government benefits.

Pittman had left a suicide note in which he stated that he was killing himself because the guards were not letting him see crisis counselors. His mother brought this lawsuit against Madison County, as well as jail staffers, charging deliberate indifference by guards and other jail staff to the risk of his attempting suicide, in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In 2011, the federal district court judge granted summary judgment in favor of all the defendants, but the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed as to Randy Eaton and Matt Warner, two of the jail’s guards, on the ground that there was a genuine issue of fact as to whether they had been deliberately indifferent to the risk that Pittman would attempt suicide.

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Plaintiffs Lenny and Tracy Chapman filed a lawsuit against Hiland Partners GP Holdings LLC, et al. who owned and operated a natural gas plant in North Dakota. Missouri Basin offers trucking services to gas companies in North Dakota. Hiland entered into a Master Service Contract (Hiland MSC) with Missouri Basin in 2008 whereby Missouri Basin, as “Contractor,” agreed to perform various services for Hiland.

As part of the agreement, Missouri Basin agreed to “indemnify, defend and save harmless Hiland Group . . . from and against any and all claims, demands, judgments, defense costs, or suits . . . in any way, directly or indirectly, arising out of or related to the performance of this Contract.”  The Hiland MSC also included an Oklahoma choice-of-law provision.

On Oct. 18, 2011, Hiland requested Missouri Basin to remove water from condensation tanks at the Watford plant. Missouri Basin contacted B&B Heavy Haul LLC who sent the plaintiff Lenny Chapman to the gas plant. Chapman arrived shortly after midnight.  He and an employee of Hiland began connecting the tank to the B&B truck that Chapman was driving. An explosion occurred and Chapman was seriously injured.

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Bert Jessmon and his father worked for a private trash collection company. They were on a route with Jessmon’s father driving and Bert Jessmon riding on the back of the truck. The Jessmons stopped on a rural two-lane highway and Bert Jessmon left the truck and began walking to pick up a trash can. At the same time, a W.A. Kendall & Co. wood chipper truck stopped behind the trash truck.

Elizabeth Smiley, who was traveling in the same lane, came upon the truck and stopped behind them. When Smiley confirmed that the oncoming lane was clear, she began passing the vehicles on the left. As she was nearly passed the chipper truck, the driver pulled out, striking her car. The Smiley car then spun clockwise striking and pinning Bert Jessmon between the car’s driver side and the rear of the garbage truck.

Bert Jessmon sustained severe crush injuries to both of his legs and his right leg was nearly severed above the knee. His femoral artery was severed and he began bleeding profusely. A bystander with Army medical experience applied a tourniquet while emergency responders were called.

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Donald Waterhouse made a claim for $100,000 in underinsured motorist coverage from State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. for the injuries he suffered in a car crash caused by George D. Robinson. Robinson was insured by State Farm, which settled Waterhouse’s negligence case for his $50,000 policy limit. The common fund doctrine might apply to the offset State Farm declared it would take (totaling $27,463) for the money Waterhouse received under his policy’s medical payments coverage.

When State Farm settled on behalf of Robinson, it sent a letter waiving its subrogation rights. But the correspondence to Waterhouse’s lawyer continued, “As of today, we have paid $27,463 under your client’s medical payments coverage. In the event that your client’s case goes into underinsured motorist arbitration, we will be taking this amount as an offset along with a credit of $50,000, which is deemed paid under Robinson’s liability coverage.”

In a motion to adjudicate State Farm’s alleged lien, Waterhouse claimed he was entitled to a credit under the Common Fund Doctrine – against the offset claimed by State Farm – for a proportional share of the fees and costs he incurred in obtaining the tort recovery.

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The Illinois Appellate Court for the First District modified and answered the certified questions in addition to remanding a lawsuit back to the Circuit Court of Cook County. On Oct. 4, 2013, Drew Williams, who played on the Lane Tech High School’s football team, “violently collided” with a teammate during a game. The collision came during the first quarter of the game. Drew, although shaken, was not assessed with concussive brain trauma and continued to play. During the fourth quarter, he showed signs of a concussion. It was later diagnosed that the blows to the head resulted in numerous brain bleeds, which rendered him disabled.

The parents of Drew — Jodine and Christopher Williams — filed a lawsuit against Athletico Ltd. Athletico is a private company that was under contract with the Chicago Public Schools to assign and maintain an adequate staff of competent personnel who were “fully equipped, licensed . . . and qualified to provide on-site injury care and evaluation in all matters pertaining to the health and well-being of the athletes.”

The Williams family claimed that Athletico was negligent in failing to assess their son.  The head trauma or the concussion was the gist of their lawsuit.  The Williamses also named Accelerated Rehabilitation Centers Ltd., the predecessor to Athletico, a company also under contract to provide athletic training of trainer services to Lane Tech students during football games and to evaluate and treat injuries during football games. The trainer assigned to the game was also named as a party defendant.

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The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago has affirmed a lower court decision by a federal judge dismissing Gregory Cripe’s lawsuit for exposure to chemical toxic fumes from Pur-Fect Lok 834A. This product is a glue made by the defendant, Henkel Corp. Cripe was exposed to the toxic fumes when he was working on his employer’s roof.

The glue in question contained methylene diphenyl diisocyanate, which can cause serious injury.

Cripe and his wife, Tammy, sued Henkel Corp. under the diversity of citizenship jurisdiction in federal court, contending that exposure to the chemical byproduct of the glue caused both neurological and psychological problems, which could have been prevented if the adhesive had better warnings.

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The Illinois Appellate Court for the 1st District has affirmed the decision of a Circuit Court judge dismissing the lawsuit for the injuries suffered by Rudy Nourse while working as an elevator serviceman.

On March 20, 2014, Nourse was working for the Suburban Elevator Co. He and his supervisor were “performing an elevator modernization” project at the River North Apartments in Chicago.

Fred Carter was on the site in his capacity as an elevator inspector for the City of Chicago’s Bureau of Elevators. As the inspection was starting, Carter ordered Nourse to climb down into the elevator pit.  Nourse did so and while he was in the pit, Nourse’s supervisor, unaware of Nourse’s location, powered up the elevator, which descended into the shaft and struck Nourse, injuring him.

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The on-the-job exposure to asbestos experienced by Ronnie Startley occurred in Alabama. Startley was a drywall finisher. However, for 3 to 4 months in 1965, he worked on approximately 50 jobs in Chicago with his cousin, Walter Startley. The Startleys used several brands of drywall joint compound that contained asbestos. Startley was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2013; he died a year later in Alabama. The Alabama statute of limitations blocked Startley’s estate’s claims there.

According to Walter Startley’s testimony, during an evidence deposition in the Illinois lawsuit that Ronnie’s estate filed against Welco Manufacturing Co., the manufacturer of Well-Coat, the joint compound they used for Chicago projects in 1965 were “USG, Gold Bond, Best Wall, and Wel-Coat.” He added, “Wel-Coat and Best Wall was the most we used.”

When Walter was asked whether he could recall having more jobs with “one product more than the other,” Walter said, “Well, I really can’t, because that’s a long time ago, but I remember the bags was being like gray-looking stuff and I imagine it would be Wel-Coat or Best Wall.”

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