Articles Posted in Illinois Legislation

In a divided First District Appellate Court decision, it was found that a private ambulance company cannot get the benefit of immunity given to emergency vehicles for a collision its medic allegedly caused. The appeals panel found that because the defendant, Joshua M. Nicholas, wasn’t transporting a patient in his Lifeline ambulance at the time he collided with the plaintiff, Roberto Hernandez, Nicholas and Lifeline were not immune from liability under state law.

The State Emergency Medical Services Systems Act immunizes ambulatory agencies and their employees if they’re providing emergency or non-emergency medical services. The Illinois Supreme Court in Wilkins v. Williams, 2013 IL 114310 held that “non-emergency medical services” included the non-emergency transport of a patient.

Nicholas was on his way to pick up a patient in Villa Park when he collided with Hernandez’s car on March 11, 2016 while exiting the upper lanes of Lake Shore Drive in Streeterville. As a result, state law did not “provide Nicholas or Lifeline with immunity from liability for any negligent acts or omissions which proximately resulted in damages to the plaintiff.”

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A new law in Illinois prohibits employers from entering into noncompete contracts with employees who earn $13 per hour or less. The Illinois Freedom to Work Act (Public Act 099-0860) became effective on Jan. 1, 2017. The law makes it illegal for an Illinois employer to enter into a “covenant not to compete” contract with any of its “low-wage employees.”

The term “covenant not to compete” is defined to extend to any agreement restricting a covered employee from the following:

  • Working for another employer for a specified period of time.
  • Working in a specified geographic area.
  • Performing other “similar” work for another employer.

Any contract with a “low-wage employee” who contains any covenant not to compete is “illegal and void.” The act is limited to agreements entered into after the effective date of Jan. 1, 2017. The act comes out of the movement to curb employers from locking lower-level employees into unfair noncompeting contracts.

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In 2006, Kipling Development Corp. was building a home in Will County, Ill. Kipling was the general contractor on the job.  The firm hired subcontractors to handle specific pieces of the job, including Speed-Drywall and United Floor Covering.

A service technician, Brian Harwell, entered the worksite to replace a furnace filter, using the stairs leading to the first floor to the basement. In the process, the stairs collapsed beneath Harwell, sending him falling into the basement. He sustained serious injuries and filed a lawsuit against Kipling as the general contractor of the building site.

In the lawsuit, it was alleged that Kipling was negligent in choosing not to properly supervise and direct construction and failing to furnish Harwell with a safe workplace and a safe stairway. In addition, Harwell also sued Speed-Drywall and United Floor Covering, claiming that they had modified or failed to secure the stairwell.

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After much deliberation, two years ago Illinois lawmakers crafted a more lenient law for the transferring of juveniles to adult courts for some serious crimes. The idea was to give judges the clear opportunity to judge or to use their discretion for juveniles charged with serious crimes who were  16 years of age rather than to simply automatically transfer these juveniles to the adult court system. The new amendment increased the mandatory transfer age from 15 to 16 for crimes such as first-degree murder and aggravated sexual assault.

Ronald Patterson, a juvenile, was just 15 years old when he was arrested for allegedly committing rape.  He was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 36 years in prison in an adult court after he was automatically transferred there. The issue now is whether the new law on automatic transfers, part of the Juvenile Court Act, should be applied to juveniles retrospectively. The new law and the applicable age change would have made a significant difference had the law been applied back in 2014. Should Patterson be allowed to be re-sentenced under the current law?

The nine-page Illinois Appellate Court opinion written by Justice P. Scott Neville stated that in applying the Statute on Statutes, that unless the legislature specifically says the amended provision does not apply retroactively, it generally should apply in such fashion.

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In a new piece of legislation, 735 ILCS 35/1, et seq., Illinois joins more than three dozen other states in enacting some form of the Uniform Interstate Deposition and Discovery Act. The act creates a simpler means in which to conduct discovery out of state. This will make it easier for lawyers in Illinois to issue subpoenas for out-of-state discovery in a pending local case.

The limitation of the new statute will allow Illinois lawyers to conduct discovery outside of Illinois in those states that have adopted the same or similar act.

The act requires minimal judicial oversight and eliminates the need for obtaining a commission, local counsel and filing a miscellaneous action in the state in which the discovery is being done. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed SB45, enacting the law in Illinois on July 20, 2015. The law applies to actions that were pending as of Jan. 1, 2016.

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Under the Illinois Juvenile Court Act, a minor who is under 13 at the time of the commission of a serious crime must be represented by counsel during the entire custodial interrogation. 705 ILCS 405/5-170(a). When the minor under 13 is in custody, Miranda warnings are not necessary. The law requires that the police provide the juvenile with a lawyer.

A juvenile who is one day shy of 13 gets an automatic lawyer, yet a juvenile who is just one day older must navigate the Miranda warnings in the same way as a sophisticated adult would be required to do.

Surprisingly, statistics show that 80% of suspects waive their Miranda rights. That would apply to the juveniles 13 and over. In one recent Illinois Supreme Court case, a police officer questioned a suspect in his home concerning a possible murder. The police officer who did the interrogation was not in uniform. He did have a revolver in plain sight.

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In a recent Illinois Appellate Court case, the issue was whether to deduct attorney fees and litigation expenses from the personal-injury settlement amount or judgment before calculating the 40 percent maximum that hospitals and doctors are entitled to receive as their share of lawsuit proceeds under Illinois’ Health Care Services Lien Act.

In a 2012 5th District Appellate Court decision, that court interpreted the health-care lien act as meaning that “the trial court should have begun its calculations of 40 percent for the lienholders after payment of attorney fees and costs necessary in securing the judgment.” Stanton v. Rea, 2012 IL App (5th) 110187.

However, the Illinois Appellate Court for the 1st District has ruled in a consolidated appeal that involved liens asserted by Cook County’s Stroger Hospital that “a circuit court may not subtract attorney fees and costs from a plaintiff’s recovery before calculating health-care services liens from the resulting subtotal; the calculation of the health-care services lien must be made from plaintiff’s total recovery. To that extent, the 5th District in Stanton suggested otherwise. We disagree.” That quote comes directly out of the text of the decision in the Wolf case discussed below. Justice Margaret Stanton McBride wrote the opinion.

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The City of Chicago began the business of reapportioning its 50 aldermanic wards. To accomplish this goal, the City Council conducted public hearings in 2011 to solicit opinions from citizens regarding the redrawing of ward boundaries.

Under Illinois law, the City Council was required to get the approval of 41 aldermen in order to prevent a referendum on the redistricting plan. In January 2012, the City Council approved the redistricting plan by a vote of 41-8.

The wards created by the redistricting map deviated from an even distribution of population by a maximum of 8.7% per ward.

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Cheneka Ross, 13, was playing tag at a Chicago Park District Park playground while being chased by another child. She ran to the slide to avoid being tagged by one of her playmates. Cheneka climbed up the slide and as she started to slide down, one of her feet became caught on a piece of plastic near the slide’s bottom. She was not able to see the plastic from the top as the slide was curved. The girl fractured her ankle requiring surgery.

Cheneka’s mother, Artenia Bowman, filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Park District asking for her daughter’s medical expenses as well as damages, claiming that the district had acted willfully and wantonly toward the slide’s users. It was also alleged that the park district had received numerous complaints from the community about the slide’s condition and submitted multiple affidavits showed that the park district had received complaints about the slide’s defect since 2010.

The park district’s records system showed that in August 2010 the slide was “boarded up and waiting for repair.” One week prior to the incident with Cheneka, the park district log indicated that the “slide west of park [was] still broken.”

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Julie Abrams was injured at the Oak Lawn-Homewood Middle School on April 19, 2012 during a ceremony inducting her as a member of the National Junior Honor Society. Julie fell at the program because of an allegedly “dark, non-illuminated, elevated, unmarked, uneven surface.” Julie required shoulder surgery as a result and expended $35,800 in medical bills for that injury.

In a lawsuit brought by Julie’s family against Oak Lawn-Homewood Middle School, it was contended that the cafeteria/auditorium — known as the Cafetorium — was “public property intended or permitted to be used for recreational purposes” under Section 3-106 of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act. The school asked that the Cook County Circuit Court judge dismiss Julie’s negligence case because of tort immunity. The trial judge denied the school district’s motion, but certified the question for immediate appeal.

This was the question presented to the Illinois Appellate Court for answering: “Where an injury occurs on an area of public property which has both recreational and non-recreational purposes, should Section 3-106 immunity apply when said area is located within a public school where the primary character of the area and overall facility is educational and non-recreational?”

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