Articles Posted in Illinois Civil Procedure

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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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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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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A Will County judge rejected Diana Angell’s attempt to use veil-piercing to overcome a mistake made in suing the wrong defendant. Her attorney sued Santefort Family Holdings LLC when she should have targeted an affiliated company known as Midwest Home Rentals LLC. Having done so, the circuit court judge dismissed the case; however, the Illinois Appellate Court for the Third District reversed with a dissent.

Angell was inspecting a mobile home that was for sale or lease at Tri-Star Estate when she walked into an unlit bathroom and stepped into a hole. She was seriously injured and sued Tri-Star’s owner, Santefort Family Holdings. Even though Santefort Family Holdings owned the real estate, the mobile home was owned by Midwest Home Rentals LLC.

To make matters worse, Santefort Family 2012 Irrevocable Trust reportedly owned numerous affiliates, including Santefort Real Estate Group LLC (which owned the defendant, Santefort Family Holdings), Midwest Home Rentals LLC, Santefort Services LLC, Santefort Property Management Inc. (called SPMI) and an array of single purpose entities.

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James Richardson was seriously injured in an auto crash at 53rd Street and Western Avenue in Chicago, which resulted in a settlement for $1 million against Night Dream Inc. and Shaun T. Small. However, their Nevada-based insurer, Spirit Commercial Auto RRG Inc., was placed in liquidation before it funded the $1 million settlement amount. Because Spirit was a “risk retention group, (RRG),” Richardson couldn’t collect from the insurance guaranty funds in Nevada or Illinois.

He asked for a $1 million judgment against Dream and Small based on the portion of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, Section 2-2301, aimed at insurance companies that slow walk settlement payments.

Richardson requested the judgment more than 30 days after he submitted an executed release and all other documents required by Section 2-2301. Subsection (d) says: “A settling defendant shall pay all sums due to the plaintiff within 30 days of tender by the plaintiff of the executed release and all applicable documents in compliance with subsections (a), (b), and (c) of this Section.”

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Tyrone Lawson, 17, was the son of the plaintiff, Pamela Wright-Young, when he  was fatally shot outside a high school basketball game.  As the administrator of her son’s estate, his mother brought this wrongful death and survival action lawsuit against the Board of Education of the City of Chicago (Board) and the Chief of Police and Student Services for Chicago State University. The university’s Jones Convocation Center was the venue in which the basketball game was held.

Throughout the pendency of this case, the trial court rejected various statutory immunities asserted by the Board. The case was tried and a jury concluded that the Board was liable, but the Chief of Police of Chicago State University was not. The jury signed a general verdict in favor of Wright-Young for damages in the amount of $3.5 million. The Board appealed.

The Illinois Appellate Court concluded that the trial court erroneously rejected the Board’s claim of absolute immunity with respect to most of the theories of liability presented at trial, as those theories all related to the Board’s choosing not to provide adequate police protection services.

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Paul Oleksiuk’s legacy included an intricate probate puzzle. His 2012 will revoked his 2011 will.  He died in 2014 before finalizing a revision to a 2012 will. However, on June 9, 2017, a Cook County judge ruled that the 2012 will didn’t qualify for admission to probate because it wasn’t notarized.

Inasmuch as the petitioners, Oleksiuk’s sister and nephew, could not find an original copy of the 2011 will, they tried again, petitioning for admission of a copy of the 2011 will.

Attacking the second petition, with a combined motion to dismiss based on Sections 2-615 and 2-619 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, his widow, Irena Oleksiuk, argued that the revocation clause in the defective 2012 will blocked the petitioners from rebutting the presumption that he intended to revoke the missing 2011 will.

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The Illinois Appellate Court has affirmed the decisions of two Cook County judges related to the suit filed by SFG Capital LLC. The suit was filed against Patrick W. Kane in 2010; it was alleged that Kane defaulted on a loan. Following a consent agreement, the trial court entered a $783,000 judgment against Kane payable to SFG. In an attempt to satisfy the judgment, SFG initiated a citation to discover assets proceedings to identify available assets that Kane might have owned.

In 2012, William Platt, an estranged business partner of Kane, signed a promissory note for $1.2 million payable to Kane. The trial court ordered all rights, title and interest in the Platt note to be transferred to SFG on April 14, 2016, with instructions that SFG “may take such further action as necessary to enforce payment on the . . . note.”

Access Realty Group, the plaintiff in this case, acquired the SFG judgment by way of an assignment on April 14, 2017, and became the successor in interest to SFG. Platt is the sole shareholder of Access, as well as its president, secretary and registered agent.
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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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