Articles Posted in Appellate Procedure

Robert Greenhill, the plaintiff, was a sprinkler fitter for a construction project when he was injured at work by a freight elevator.

While he was entering the elevator, another passenger pressed the “door close” button and the elevator gate descended, striking Greenhill.

The Illinois First District Appellate Court held that the open-and-obvious doctrine was not available to the defendants, including REIT Management & Research LLC, Thyssenkrupp Elevator Corp., and the building manager, CW 600 W. Chicago LLC, because the risk of entering the elevator would not have been apparent to a reasonable person in the view of Greenhill.

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The Illinois Appellate Court for the Fourth District has overturned a $3.2 million jury verdict against a manufacturer in an asbestos death case. The appeals panel found that there was not enough evidence to show that a glazier’s contact with caulk and tape was a substantial factor in Willard Krumwiede’s fatal contraction of mesothelioma.

Krumwiede worked as a window glazier, installing glass into wood or aluminum frames from the mid-1950s until he retired in the early 1990s.

Krumwiede died at the age of 81 in September 2012. An autopsy showed that he had “malignant mesothelioma consistent with industrial exposure of asbestos.”

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David Lee Johnson, an employee of Universal AM-CAN Ltd. and Louis Broadwell LLC, was driving a truck owned by his employers above the speed limit while on a suspended license.  Johnson crashed his vehicle into a Jeep in front of him driven by the plaintiff, James Denton.

The crash pushed Denton’s car into a semitrailer tractor truck. Denton eventually managed to crawl out of the rear passenger window, but he suffered multiple traumatic injuries, including severe nerve and spinal damage. He required nine surgeries that were not altogether successful. His injuries have left him with a neurogenic bladder and he is unable to work. Denton also was required to see a counselor for depression and anxiety.

The driver of the truck, Johnson, had nine traffic-related offenses in the seven years before applying to work at Universal as well as four counts of felony reckless aggravated assault when he tried, with a wooden club, to break the headlights of the car occupied by four women who he claimed were tailgating him.

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On April 10, 2014, two Chicago police officers noticed a car without a front license plate, and they attempted to pull it over. The vehicle, which was being driven by Glenn Jones, was owned by Dalia Smith who was a passenger in the car.

As the Chicago police officers attempted to curb the vehicle, Jones suddenly accelerated, driving up to 70 mph down a two-lane street with a 30-mph speed limit. The car he was driving ran through stop signs and a red light.

The police officers followed for four blocks at speeds up to 55 mph before disengaging. However, as the police officers were stopping, the Jones vehicle struck another car containing Kelly Winston and her daughters, Kayla and Kyla. Video of the crash showed that the entire incident, from the police attempting to curb the Jones vehicle to the time of the collision, lasted only about 20 seconds. Jones and Smith were both killed in the crash.

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The Illinois Appellate Court for the First District has affirmed the jury’s verdict in a personal injury case. On Feb. 16, 2013, Joanna Tielke was bowling at a facility run by Kevin Killerman and 3124 N. Central LLC. Tielke slipped while bowling and fell, suffering a severe injury.  She filed a lawsuit against North Central, Killerman and Manor Bowling.

There were two different law firms that represented the various defendants.  On Sept. 26, 2017, attorney Tara Ryniec-Stanek made an open court settlement offer to Tielke of $700,000. This was before trial.

That night, Ryniec-Stanek sent a text to Tielke confirming that the $700,000 offer was still available and that if accepted, the check would be delivered on Sept. 29.  On Sept. 27, Tielke spoke to Ryniec-Stanek and accepted the offer; she also confirmed the acceptance via text message to her.

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The Illinois Appellate Court for the First District has ordered a new trial in the product-liability lawsuit against a water heater company. The jury’s verdict of $10.7 million for a toddler killed by scalding bathwater was the underlying lawsuit leading to this verdict.

The Illinois Appellate Court’s decision centered on the heater’s instruction manual as well as a warning label on both a mock-up and the actual heater. It was the opinion of the appeals panel that the jury should have been allowed to see the heater’s instruction manual in the trial.

The appeals panel also said the jury should have been given the chance to answer a special interrogatory, which was the question aimed to distill and frame the issues. The question was whether the product was “unreasonably dangerous” when it left the location of the manufacturer.

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Daniel and Rachel Brenner purchased four works of art from Evelyn Statsinger in the 1950s and 1960s. The artworks were displayed in the Brenner home continuously through the time of Daniel’s death in 1977 and Rachel’s death in 1990. The Brenner children, Ariel and Jonathan Brenner, inherited the artwork.

When Jonathan died in 2010, he died without a will. His widow, Terry Brenner, was his sole heir.

The paintings were given back to Evelyn Statsinger in 1996. The transfer took place with Jonathan, Terry, their daughter, Statsinger and Statsinger’s husband being present.

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In a pending appeal from a jury verdict in favor of defendants Capital Fitness Inc. and a personal trainer, the plaintiff Gabriela Sosa-Gaines appealed the verdict handed down by a DuPage County Circuit Court jury on Aug. 4, 2017 and entered by the trial court.

The principal basis for the appeal was that the trial court denied the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and refused to instruct the jury on assumption of risk, the risk that the plaintiff could never have imagined when signing the two exculpatory- laden agreements.

It was argued in the briefs and in oral argument, which took place on Dec. 14, 2018 at the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District in Elgin, Ill., that there was no genuine issue of disputed facts that the “mild adjustment” that herniated plaintiff’s disks at the thoracic spine level was not an activity covered by the exculpatory clauses found in the Capital Fitness/XSport Membership Agreement and the Physical Training Agreement. Both documents have broad exculpatory clauses that would make a claim for negligence against these defendants unsustainable should any one of the delineated activities injure the plaintiff.

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Jeffrey Andrews was working as a cement finisher for F.H. Paschen S.N. Nielsen and Associates, LLC (“Paschen”) on a project for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (“Water Reclamation District” or “district”), a governmental entity. He fell 29 feet from a ladder to the bottom of a water chamber where he was applying sealant.

The worksite was muddy that day, and the chamber in which he fell had three feet of standing water in it. The other workers, along with Andrews, were required to use a ladder made by the construction crew for part of the descent before “pivoting” by stepping over onto a commercial fiberglass ladder for the remainder of the trip.

There was no platform between the two ladders. Andrews slipped while attempting to transfer between the two ladders landing on a co-worker, breaking multiple bones and suffering “severe, career-ending head injuries.”
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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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