Articles Posted in Illinois Civil Procedure

In the case of Campbell v. Acme Installations Inc., highlighted in the April 2019 Illinois Bar Journal authored by Eric J. Muñoz, general jurisdiction for nonresident defendants is clarified.

In the Campbell case, the plaintiff brought a lawsuit against General Electric and other companies resulting from his alleged exposure to GE-manufactured industrial furnaces located at a Chicago steel company where he worked from 1964 to 1965. At the time of the filing of the lawsuit, GE was based in New York, and its principal place of business was in Massachusetts.

GE had been licensed to conduct business in Illinois since 1897. GE employed some 3,000 employees at 30 facilities that it owned, leased, or operated throughout Illinois. It also had six business units located in the state. GE’s annual sales from its Illinois operations “exceeded $1 billion, with a claimed economic impact in Illinois of $4.8 billion.”

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The day before Eugene Lay died from lung cancer in January 2016, he allegedly signed a will that revoked his 1979 will. The new will left all of his assets to Delbert Miller. However, when Beverly Kelton, a legatee under the earlier 1979 will, challenged the 2016 testament, a  judge in Kankakee County, Ill., granted Delbert Miller’s motion to dismiss based on alleged lack of statutory standing under Section 1-2.11 of the Illinois Probate Act.

Section 8-1(a) of the Illinois Probate Act authorizes attacks on the validity of a will by any “interested person,” as defined in Section 1-2.11. Failure to qualify as an “interested person” for a will contest amounts to a lack of standing that can be presented as an affirmative defense in a motion under Section 2-619(a)(9) of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure.

Miller argued that Kelton was obligated to prove that she had standing because the 2016 will contained a revocation clause. Miller relied on the dicta in the Illinois Supreme Court case of Estate of Schlenker, 209 Ill.2d 456 (2004). In granting Miller’s motion to dismiss, the trial court also cited the Estate of Koziol, 366 Ill.App.3d 171 (2006), which involved the presumption that a missing will was revoked.

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Mary Lewis, Tashwan Banks and Kathleen O’Sullivan filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated against Atlantic Richfield Co., ConAgra Grocery Products Inc., NL Industries Inc. and Sherwin-Williams Co. claiming that these entities engaged in civil conspiracy.

In addition, the plaintiff class consisted of parents or legal guardians who incurred expenses, allegations of liabilities in testing their children.

The children, between Aug. 18, 1995 and Feb. 19, 2008, were between six months and six years old. They lived in zip codes identified by the Illinois Department of Public Health as “high risk” areas for lead toxicity.

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The Illinois Appellate Court found that there was a discrepancy in the meaning of “common liability” in Section 2(b) of the Illinois Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act. The underlying case was when an Alex Express freightliner crashed into the car of Thomas and Diane Roberts.

The Roberts family claimed $2 million in damages when they sued Alexandria Transportation, Solomakha and Alex Express. The defendants were collectively referred to as “Alex,” which then pursued contribution claims against Edwards-Kamadulski and Safety International, one of its contractors that was working on the highway project where the Roberts were injured.

After a series of settlements, including a deal in which Edwards-Kamadulski paid $50,000 to the Roberts family, the only claim left for trial was Alex’s contribution complaint against Safety International.

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The plaintiff in this lawsuit, Roscoe Giles, was the representative and administrator of the estate of his brother, Morris Giles. Giles filed suit two years and one day after the death of his brother who was hit by a tow truck while walking through a cross-walk. When there is a sudden traumatic injurious event, the cause of action accrues, and the statute of limitations begins to run on the date the injury occurs.

As the original lawsuit complaint was not timely filed, no subsequent pleading can relate back to it. Any legal disability on the part of the decedent, and any negligence by the Giles’ attorney, cannot extend the statute of limitations.

Roscoe Giles, Morris’s brother, retained an attorney to sue Robert Parks, the tow truck’s owner and operator. On Dec. 23, 2014, exactly two years after Morris’s death, counsel for Roscoe filed the lawsuit, a survival claim. Survival claims have a statute of limitations of two years.

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The ruling has been upheld in the case of a woman whose estate was awarded $2.5 million after she died falling from a porch almost 14 years ago.

The 1st District Illinois Appellate Court rejected the argument from the defendant Charlotte Klink that the lawsuit filed against the estate of Klink’s former estranged and now-deceased husband was untimely filed.

The original defendant, Ronald Flores, died on Nov. 29, 2010. Continue reading

The Illinois Appellate Court for the 1st District reversed and remanded a decision entered by a judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County. The issue on appeal was focused on a non-manufacturing defendant in a product-liability case. The defendant identified the manufacturer in order to be dismissed from strict liability in a tort claim. There was a question as to whether the manufacturer was not subject to the court’s jurisdiction and whether the plaintiff should be permitted to reinstate the non-manufacturing defendant.

In this case, Martin Cassidy was working at a warehouse when a flexible bulk container belonging to China Vitamins ripped and leaked, which made the entire stack of containers unstable. One of the stacked containers fell on Cassidy, injuring him.

In 2007, he filed a lawsuit against China Vitamins. The lawsuit alleged strict liability, negligent product liability and one count under res ipsa loquitur.

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In a personal injury lawsuit filed in Cook County concerning the pedestrian-vehicle collision that severely injured 2-year-old Angela Williams, the attorney representing Williams nonsuited the lawsuit in order to refile it with a jury demand. The plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the second amended complaint in April 2017 before refiling it days later, this time with a jury demand.

The same motion judge was assigned to the case. A month later, the defendant, Gregory Leonard, moved to substitute the motion court judge. The judge denied Leonard’s motion based on his interpretation of the Illinois Supreme Court case of Bowman v. Ottney, 2015 IL 119000.

Because the motion court judge thought that if he was wrong, it would hamper the progress of this case, he allowed the parties to file an interlocutory appeal. The issue on appeal was interpretation of Section 2-1001(a)(2) of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, which gives the parties the right to substitute judges once without cause before substantive case issues had been decided.  The Illinois Supreme Court in Bowman, held that the provision should not be used for “judge shopping” by plaintiffs.

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In an uninsured motorist case, Holly Shakelford sued Allstate Fire & Casualty Insurance Co. for 9 percent interest on a $16,000 arbitration award. She was seeking the 9% statutory interest provided by Section 2-1303 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure.

A more accurate term for Section 2-1303 is the “Judgment Interest Statute,” the Supreme Court explained in Illinois State Toll Highway Authority v. Heritage Standard Bank, 157 Ill.2d 282 (1993). The law provides for 9% interest on arbitration awards, jury verdicts and reports from special masters – as part of the judgment entered on the award, verdict or report – running back to the date of the initial decision. In addition to providing 9% interest on judgments, Section 2-1303 also provides for prejudgment interest on awards, verdicts and reports.

This case was complicated because Shakelford’s claim was that the arbitrator ruled $16,000 was the “gross award,” subject to setoffs and liens “to be resolved by the parties and their attorneys.”  The second issue or twist to the case was that Shakelford sued without first applying for confirmation of the award under the Uniform Arbitration Act.

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This case was brought as a declaratory judgment action filed by the plaintiff, Pekin Insurance Co., seeking a declaration that it owed the defendant Lexington Station LLC no duty to defend it in a personal injury lawsuit filed by Marcos Botello against Lexington.

Pekin had issued a commercial general liability (CGL) policy to ACC Inc. The defendant, Marcos Botello, was injured during the effective policy period while working as an employee of ACC on a development project owned by Lexington. Botello filed a personal injury lawsuit against Lexington. Lexington in turn tendered the defense of the case to Pekin, which refused to tender and then filed this declaratory judgment action. Pekin argued that it had no duty to defend Lexington as an additional insured under the policy issued to ACC.

Westfield Insurance Co., as Lexington’s own CGL insurer, intervened in the declaratory action and argued, along with Lexington, that Pekin did owe a duty to defendant. The circuit court denied Pekin’s motion for summary judgment and granted Lexington and Westfield’s cross-motion for judgment on the pleadings, finding that Pekin had a duty to defend Lexington. Pekin appealed.  It argued that the court’s entry of judgment in favor of Lexington and Westfield was in error because (1) Botello’s complaint did not contain allegations that created a potential for a claim of vicarious liability against Lexington; and (2) the circuit court improperly considered a third-party complaint in coming to its conclusion.

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