In a 2-1 decision, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed a judgment that resulted in a $1 million verdict in punitive damages and a $163,327 in compensatory damages. The suit was brought against Pan-Oceanic Engineering Co. for reckless conduct that allegedly caused a motor vehicle crash, injuring Fletcher McQueen.  It was alleged that McQueen was injured because (1) Pan-Oceanic conceded it was liable for any negligence by its employee, Lavonta M. Green, and (2) the jury decided Green was not negligent.

Justice Mary L. Mikva dissented because she relied on the line of cases supplied by the majority – which concluded that “once an employer admits responsibility under respondeat superior, a plaintiff may not proceed against the employer on another theory of imputed liability such as negligent entrustment or negligent hiring,” Gant v. LU Transport Inc., 331 Ill.App.3d 924 (2002) – “as being at odds with several well-reasoned decisions of this court.”

And even if Gant should be followed, Justice Mikva believed “the majority unnecessarily and unfairly extends application of the rule in that case beyond its principled parameters.”

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Jose Maclovio, an 18-year-old farmworker, was riding home in a van driven by Ramiro Tadeo-Lazaaro.

A vehicle driven by Craig Brewer rear-ended the van as it was stopped at a railroad crossing. Maclovio suffered a burst fracture at C5, which required an emergency surgery.  Sadly, despite this treatment, Maclovio suffered partial quadriplegia.

He sued Tadeo-Lazaaro, Brewer and the van’s owner alleging negligent operation of the defendants’ vehicles.

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Gina Sanderson, 48, drove her vehicle into an intersection where there was a two-way stop sign. Her car was struck from the side by a tractor-trailer driven by Philip Wright. He had run through the stop sign. Wright was an employee of Darling Ingredients Inc.  Sanderson suffered a right leg tibia pilon fracture that involved the ankle as well. The injury required two surgeries. She now experiences chronic pain and has a collapsed arch and a foot and ankle deformity among other issues.

Sanderson, who is an autism consultant, is unable to continue working full time.

She sued Wright, alleging that he chose not to stop at a stop sign, failed to keep a proper lookout and did not yield the right-of-way. The lawsuit against Darling Ingredients alleged owner liability under state law.

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Shane Denil was driving his Mazda Miata when his car was rear-ended by a box truck driven by Andrew Bassett. Denil suffered a concussion and herniations to his cervical and lumbar spine. He underwent cervical disk surgery, a lumbar radio frequency ablation, and a lumbar laminectomy, which resulted in medical expenses totaling $470,000.

He sued Bassett, alleging that he chose not to keep a proper lookout, which caused the rear-end crash. The lawsuit did not claim lost income.

The defendant argued that Denil had a pre-existing back and neck injury that was exasperated by this crash. However, before trial the parties settled for $1 million.

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Eduardo Guzman was employed by TDH Mechanical, which provided heating, ventilation and air conditioning services. TDH bought an insurance policy from Columbia Insurance Group to cover the period from April 2016 through April 2017. Rockwell Properties owned a part of the property under construction in Chicago.

Prairie Management & Development was the construction manager at this property. In February 2017, Prairie and Rockwell contracted with TDH to provide HVAC services at this property.

The contract contained provisions stating that TDH assumed responsibility and liability for any damages or injury of any kind to all persons and all property growing out of TDH’s work on the project. The contract also specified that both Prairie and Rockwell were to be named as additional insureds on TDH’s insurance policy.

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Tomas Buron was stuck by a delivery truck driven by Shane M. Lignar, an employee of Lily Transportation Co., on Nov. 27, 2017. The incident occurred in the parking lot of the Whole Foods delivery building in Munster, Ind.

Buron filed a lawsuit against Lignar and Lily in Cook County. Lignar and Lily moved to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the circuit court lacked personal jurisdiction over both. Lignar is an Indiana resident, the crash occurred in Indiana, and Lily is a Massachusetts corporation with “only limited operations in Illinois.”

Discovery was done on the jurisdictional issue and Buron submitted in his reply brief that the court had jurisdiction over Lily based on the company’s operations in Illinois. Buron further replied that Lignar worked out of the facility in Illinois, made pickups and deliveries in Illinois twice weekly and filed Illinois tax returns in 2018 and 2019. The Cook County Circuit Court judge denied the motion to dismiss before an evidentiary hearing or oral argument. Lignar and Lily petitioned for an appeal.

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During discovery in a negligence case, State Farm Insurance Co. retained outside counsel to defend Allison Rancour. In this Kane County case, the attorneys named Drs. Benjamin Goldberg and Michael Musacchio as controlled experts. The plaintiff requested a list of the amounts paid to each of the doctors in every case where they were hired by State Farm and the group of State Farm employees that practiced law in Chicago known as Bruce Farrel Dorn & Associates.

The defendant refused to comply and the court sanctioned the defendant and attorneys $25 a day for failing to comply. The attorney for the defendant and State Farm argued that the judge erred in commanding discovery from non-parties that had not been subpoenaed. And because neither the attorneys nor outside counsel hired by State Farm nor its client were employees of State Farm, the law firm claimed they could not be compelled to provide information possessed by State Farm.

The appellate court affirmed the discovery order but reversed the sanction because the outside firm used a “friendly contempt” for immediate review, thus the appellate court explained that there was no need to subpoena State Farm or the Bruce Farrel Dorn & Associates law firm because the discovery order was aimed at Rancour and the outside law firm. The decision of the appellate court was based on Szczeblewski v. Gossett, 342 Ill. App. 3d 344 (2003), and Oelze v. Score Sports Venture, 401 Ill. App. 3d 110 (2010) for the Second District. The court concluded that “the court correctly applied existing case law, which holds that a party has reasonable control over the documents possessed by her insurer.”

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Carol Loevy, 59, entered an intersection in her SUV.  Michael Tobin made a right turn in front of Loevy’s vehicle in his pickup truck. His pickup truck collided with Loevy’s SUV.

She suffered neck and lumbar spinal injuries, including a herniated disk at C5-6.  She was later diagnosed as having radiculopathy in her extremities.

Loevy was an artist earning $15 an hour but has been unable to return to work. Her medical bills totaled $80,000.

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Victoria Jeffords sued defendant BP Products North America, the operator of an oil refinery, Fluor Constructors International, the engineering and construction manager and MC Industrial. She claimed that her husband, Donald Jeffords, had been injured when he was employed by Central Rent-a-Crane, which BP contracted with to provide crane services. He fractured both feet and his back when he fell seven feet while on a 13-inch wide catwalk on the crane with no guardrail while checking the crane’s fluid levels.

The U.S. District Court Judge granted summary judgment for BP, Fluor and MC Industrial finding no duty was owed to Jeffords and no breach of any duty existed under the contracts, at common law, or under OSHA.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago affirmed, citing six reasons the defendants breached no duty owed to Jeffords, noting Jeffords could not sue his employer, Central Rent-a-Crane, as he had only a workers’ compensation claim.

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Susan Danzig and Carla Davis, plaintiffs, attended a student play put on by the Professional Theater and Dance Youth Academy (dance academy) at the Woodlawn facility at The University of Chicago Charter School Corp. (charter school) on Feb. 24, 2017. While there, the plaintiffs were instructed to sit on a bench by an employee of the charter school. The bench collapsed, injuring both Danzig and Davis.

The plaintiffs filed an identical one-count negligence lawsuit against the dance academy and the charter school on March 20, 2018. The charter school moved to dismiss the complaint, claiming the case was barred by the statute of limitations, citing the Illinois Tort Immunity Act, section 101(a), which requires claims to be filed within one year of the alleged injury.

On June 28, 2018, the plaintiffs filed a response and the dance academy moved to dismiss and filed a counterclaim against the charter school for contribution. The charter school moved to dismiss, also citing the one-year statute of limitations.

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