From 1959 to 1964, Rivers Sampson worked as a sandblaster and used silica as an abrasive agent.  In 2014, at the age of 77,  Sampson died of sepsis and silicosis, which is a progressive disease caused by inhaling silica dust. Having silica dust attached to the lungs causes inflammation and scarring.

Sampson’s two surviving adult children brought a lawsuit against more than 20 companies that mined and sold silica for use in sandblasting. It was alleged that these defendants chose not to warn of the health risks of silica exposure. Some of these defendants settled before the trial for confidential amounts or were otherwise dismissed from the case. However, the lawsuit did proceed to a jury verdict against Mississippi Valley Silica Co.

The Sampson family sought punitive damages claiming that the defendants, in choosing not to warn of the known health hazard, constituted actual malice or gross negligence. The Sampson family asserted that the defendant failed to add product warnings regarding the health hazards of silica exposure until 1972, although the industry was well aware of the dangers since at least the 1930s.

Continue reading

Nathaniel Cooper, 24, was working in the packing area of a United Parcel Services (UPS) facility when he suffered heat exhaustion that led to his fatal cardiac event. He is survived by his fiancé and a minor child.

His fiancé, on behalf of the couple’s child, sued UPS claiming it was negligent in that it directed Cooper to work in unsafe conditions despite knowing that he had cardiac problems.

The lawsuit also claimed that UPS was grossly negligent for choosing not to install an adequate ventilation system, establish mandatory rest schedules and monitor workers for heat stress. Apparently the UPS facility where Cooper was working was an enclosed area that held heat at high temperatures. Continue reading

Luisa Cruz Mezquital was driving her Mazda minivan when the oncoming 1995 Jeep Wrangler, driven by the defendant Abdulmohsen Almassud, lost control, crossed the center-line and crashed into her minivan. The Cruz driver-side window shattered.  Cruz’s left hand struck the Jeep as it scraped down the side of her minivan.

Cruz, who was 29 at the time, suffered serious injuries to her hand and arm, including a degloving injury to her left, dominant hand with significant loss of skin, muscles, nerves, tendons and fascia. In addition, she suffered severe, open fractures of multiple bones in her hand and closed fractures of the ulnar radius of the left arm.

She underwent open reduction internal fixation surgery to repair the forearm fractures that included installing plates and screws. Her middle left finger was amputated. A four-stage reconstruction surgery to her hand was undertaken, which included a split-thickness skin graft from her upper thigh.

Continue reading

Nardo Ovando was a 44-year-old painter employed by Painters USA Inc. and was hired for a painting job at the defendant Vita Food Products Inc. The job was located at 2222 W. Lake St. in Chicago.  Ovando was standing on a ladder and reaching overhead while painting a ceiling at the Vita Food facility on June 30, 2011 when one of the legs of the ladder dropped into a floor drain opening that caused him to fall off the ladder.

On falling, Ovando’s head struck the floor resulting in a severe traumatic brain injury that required multiple brain surgeries.

Ovando reportedly has exhibited no measurable brain activity since the occurrence and will require care in a skilled nursing facility for the remainder of his life. His past medical expenses totaled $1,204,762 with his future medical expenses estimated at $7,590,000.

Continue reading

A Mississippi jury has signed a verdict for $1,250,000 in favor of a highway patrolman whose left leg was partially amputated in a motorcycle accident that was alleged to have been caused by two construction companies that left a low ramp across a road.

Highway Patrolman Marvin Henderson filed a lawsuit after he hit the ramp obstruction at night while returning from a gym. He was thrown from his motorcycle and his left foot and lower leg were crushed. Unfortunately, his leg was amputated below the knee eleven months after this occurrence. He now uses a prosthetic leg.

The ramp in question covered a conduit that the construction companies were using to move water and sewage across the road. The drainage system was blocked by barricades during the day but not at night when this incident took place. Henderson is now a highway patrol investigator.

Continue reading

The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners has been involved with the U.S. Department of Justice and Equip for Equality for the last ten months in an effort to evaluate what needs to be done to ensure that every Chicago voter is able to cast a ballot.

The U.S. Department of Justice was contemplating a lawsuit to make sure that the City of Chicago made voting accessible for all, including the disabled. According to the report on the threatened lawsuit and the headway made in resolving this dispute, it was noted that some polling places and early voting sites failed to pass muster under the federal voting accessibility laws that went into effect in 2016.

The City of Chicago should be required to modify polling places to ensure all disabled and handicapped voters are able to cast their election ballots. In some polling places, measures are needed to build ramps, widen doorways and make sure that doors are not difficult to open for voters who are blind or seated in wheelchairs.

Continue reading

Carus Corp. (Carus) was an international company that developed and sold chemical products for municipal and industrial applications. In a federal lawsuit, Carus was named as a defendant. Carus’s products included a chemical called Totalox, which essentially was designed as a deodorizer for sewer systems.

The town of Lexington (town) used Totalox in its sewer treatment plants. In 2010, John Machin, a town employee, was exposed to Totalox when a storage container valve broke during the delivery of Totalox to one of the town’s wastewater stations. He suffered reactive airways syndrome, which was also known as chemically induced asthma or obstructive lung disease.

As a result of his injuries, he filed a workers’ compensation claim and was allowed workers’ compensation benefits. The South Carolina Supreme Court accepted four certified questions from the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina: (1) Under South Carolina law, when a plaintiff seeks recovery from a person, other than his employer, for an injury sustained on the job, may the jury hear an explanation of why the employer is not part of the instant action?; (2) when a plaintiff seeks recovery from a person, other than his employer, for an injury sustained on the job, may a defendant argue the empty chair defense and suggest that plaintiff’s employer is the wrongdoer?; (3) In connection with Question 2, if a defendant retains the right to argue the “empty chair” defense against a plaintiff’s employer, may a court instruct the jury that an employer’s legal responsibility has been determined by another forum, specifically, the state’s workers’ compensation commission?; and (4) when a plaintiff seeks recovery from a person, other than his employer, for an injury sustained on the job, may the court allow the jury to apportion fault against the nonparty employer by placing the name of the employer on the verdict form?

Continue reading

Lisa Tam Chung, a Texas high school senior, bought a vacation package through the defendant, StudentCity.com Inc., for a trip to Cancun, Mexico. She added an optional snorkeling excursion as part of her package.

This unfortunate trip had a tragic ending when the snorkeling catamaran hit a coral reef and began to take on water. The crew of the boat was not able to help passengers who were on the boat. Lisa and her friend put on life preservers and tried to reach safety by grabbing a rope that extended between the catamaran and a small private vessel. Their efforts to reach safety failed when they were pulled under water. Lisa suffered heart failure and died. Her friend, Loren, suffered serious injuries, but she survived.

StudentCity is a Delaware corporation that has its principal place of business in Massachusetts. It sells vacation packages to students, including those traveling for spring break or to celebrate graduations.

Continue reading

Baxter International was sued in a second wave of multidistrict litigation filed by hemophiliacs who alleged that they contracted HIV or Hepatitis C from contaminated blood products. Baxter paid $15 million to settle the lawsuits and then filed its own lawsuit against Axa Versicherung and a German insurance company for indemnification.

During discovery, Axa demanded that the lawyers handling the insurance coverage matter for Baxter turn over its memos and e-mails that it delivered to it. Baxter blacked out or redacted the lawyer’s analysis of insurance coverage issues in the production material it did produce. In other words, Baxter decided to edit the discovery it produced, saying that Axa was not entitled to the legal analysis found in some of the e-mails and memos.

Axa’s motion to compel relied on the Illinois Supreme Court opinion in Waste Management v. International Surplus Lines Insurance Co., 144 Ill.2d 178 (1991), which ruled that attorney-client privilege did not apply to the insured’s communications with its counsel about the underlying tort litigation.

Continue reading

Trade secrets can be among the most valuable assets of any business. Laws in Illinois and on the federal level have long protected trade secrets.

Before 1995, the protection of trade secrets was based on the common law as defined by the Restatement of Torts. Illinois has adopted the Illinois Trade Secrets Act, 765 ILCS 1065/1, et seq.

The Illinois Trade Secrets Act is modeled on the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. There are many instances in which the Illinois Trade Secrets Act could be utilized.

Continue reading