Articles Posted in Trial Practice

Miguel Klesowitch filed a lawsuit against the defendant Chiquita Smith to recover for damages allegedly suffered as a result of the defendant’s negligence.  The trial judge granted summary judgment in favor of Klesowitch on the issue of defendant’s negligence only, leaving consideration of whether any of the plaintiff’s conduct was a proximate cause of his injuries and the amount of damages for trial.  At the trial before the jury, the judge admitted certain medical bills into evidence.  Portions of those bills had been written off by the medical providers.  The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for the full amount of the medical bills admitted into evidence.  The verdict was affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded back to the trial court with instructions.

On June 28, 2008, the plaintiff, Miguel Klesowitch, alleged that the defendant, Chiquita Smith, drove her car into the Klesowitch vehicle.  Smith drove her vehicle into an intersection without stopping at a stop sign and into the left side of Klesowitch’s vehicle.  Smith admitted not stopping because she did not see the stop sign.  The lawsuit complaint alleged that Klesowitch was injured physically, by expending large sums of money for medical expenses to be cured of said physical injuries and by lost money from being unable to pursue his usual occupation.  Smith filed an answer and affirmative defenses alleging that Klesowitch was guilty of contributory negligence.

In July 2014, Klesowitch filed a motion for summary judgment “on the issue of liability.”  Klesowitch’s motion asserted that at Smith’s deposition, she “set forth testimony indicating that she was clearly at fault for the accident.”

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A federal judge in Seattle threw out a $21.5 million jury verdict that was entered in favor of an Illinois man who claimed he was injured during an around-the-world cruise in 2011. The jury’s verdict was thrown out when the individual’s former assistant came forward to say that he had intentionally deleted e-mails that could have hurt the man’s case.

The federal district court judge ordered a new trial saying that she found the assistant’s testimony at a hearing last month credible and that newly uncovered e-mails exposed “grave inconsistencies” with the injured Illinois resident, James R. Hausman’s story.

He lives in Springfield, Ill. He sued Seattle-based Holland America Line, the cruise line company, in 2013. Hausman claimed that he suffered dizziness and seizures after an automatic sliding glass door improperly closed and struck his head as the ship approached its port in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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In a lawsuit and jury trial in which the defendant, Mel Richard Krumske, admitted liability causing injury to the plaintiff, Kevin Burkhamer, Burkhamer’s attorney asked on direct examination whether the defendant ever called the plaintiff to “apologize” for causing the crash. Krumske’s attorney then immediately objected and requested a mistrial. The trial judge sustained the objection and acknowledged at a sidebar that an instruction to the jury to disregard what might be an inadequate remedy for the unfair prejudice likely caused by the improper questioning would be given. However, the judge postponed ruling on the request for a mistrial and did not rule on the motion to render a mistrial until after the jury’s verdict.

At the end of the jury trial on damages, the verdict for the plaintiff Burkhamer was $175,000. The jury was discharged. But before the judgment was entered, the defendant’s attorney reminded the judge about the lingering motion for a mistrial. Concluding the verdict might have been “inflated by passion” the judge said she was granting “the motion for a new trial,” although Krumske, the defendant never filed a posttrial motion.

The Illinois Appellate Court accepted an immediate appeal by the plaintiff under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 306.

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The Illinois Appellate Court has reversed a jury verdict of $3.6 million as being too speculative and without enough discovery. The unpublished order was issued remanding Nazmi Nomat’s automobile-injury case back to the Circuit Court of Cook County to determine again how much he should receive in damages in the case where the defendants admitted liability.

This time, however, the defense will be able to conduct more discovery and Nomat won’t be able to present an expert who testified about $1 million in lost wages.

In the new trial on damages, Nomat, who is now 49, will have to again attempt to prove damages resulting from the October 2009 automobile accident that he was involved in. Nomat suffered injuries to his lower spine and right ankle. Although Nomat was released from the hospital the same day of the crash, he subsequently saw a chiropractor and other physicians for neck, lower back, left shoulder and right ankle pain and treatment through March 2010.

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The beneficiaries of the Barbara B. Kaull Trust included the biological children of Mark James Kaull’s father, Mark Kaull, who died in 2010. Mary Kaull, acting as trustee of the Barbara B. Kaull Trust, petitioned the court for a ruling on whether Mark, the elder, was also the father of Ryan Donald Schrader. Mark James Kaull might be the brother of Ryan Donald Schrader. To determine whether they were in fact brothers, Mary Kaull asked the court for an order compelling Mark James Kaull to submit to a DNA test. Mark James Kaull refused and was held in contempt of court. Mark James Kaull argued that the Illinois Supreme Court Rule 215 as revised and amended in 1996 is unconstitutional under the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions.

Mark James claimed that the revised Rule 215 violated the prohibition on reasonable searches and seizures under the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, plus his right under Article 1, Section 6 of the Illinois Constitution to be free from unreasonable searches, seizures and invasions of privacy.

This case, which was set in Winnebago County, Ill., granted Mary’s request for the DNA testing. Mark appealed from that order which fined him $100 and a dollar a day for declining to obey.

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During a jury trial in LaSalle County, Ill., the jury found in favor of Ty Benckendorf, who was a backseat passenger in a car traveling southbound in Marseilles, Ill., on Oct. 20, 2010. The defendant, 75-year-old Juliann Huber, was driving a car that was heading southwest. It pulled into the path of the Benckendorf car, causing the crash. Benckendorf, 18, sustained a herniated cervical disc and soft tissue injuries. The jury learned that Benckendorf had $12,000 in past medical expenses.

The defendant admitted negligence but disputed the extent of Benckendorf’s claimed injuries and damages.

The attorney for Benckendorf, Jennifer L. Kiesewetter, made a demand to settle the case before the start of the trial for the policy limits of $100,000. The jury was asked to return a verdict of $250,000. The only offer made by the defendant’s counsel before trial was $23,000.

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The Illinois Appellate Court has affirmed a defense verdict in a multi-vehicle crash on an icy Indiana highway that caused severe injuries to motorists. The big issue in the case was which state’s law should be applied at a Cook County Circuit Court jury trial.

On Dec. 26, 2007, Clifford Ruse, a truck driver for Harvey, Ill.-based Envirite of Illinois Inc. was driving eastbound on Interstate 80/94 in Hammond, Ind., when he was struck by an SUV whose driver had lost control on a patch of black ice.

Ruse swerved his truck to the left and hit the highway’s median wall. On impact, the container of mill dust in tow was detached from his truck and that container crossed into the westbound lanes of the interstate highway. The plaintiff in the case, Daniel Kovera, was one of several drivers injured when the container landed on their cars. In March 2008, Kovera and his wife filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill.

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In the early morning hours of April 19, 2010, Chantel Jobes was driving a vehicle alone and left the southbound lane of Highway 11, crossed the northbound lane and crashed into a concrete railroad trestle. Jobes was seriously injured and filed a lawsuit against the Norfolk Southern Railway Co., the Mississippi Transportation Commission and the Mississippi Department of Transportation. The trial judge denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court of Mississippi granted the defendants’ request for an interlocutory appeal and that court entered summary judgment in their favor.

Jobes was working at TGI Fridays in Hattiesburg, Miss., when she started her shift as the manager at 4 p.m. on April 18, 2010. She finished her shift at approximately 1:30 a.m. the morning of April 19 and then went directly to a 24/7 gym nearby to work out, which was her normal routine. After about an hour at the gym, she headed to a friend’s house to celebrate his birthday. She does not remember the party, but her friends told her that she “didn’t want to finish the cocktail drink [she] had,” and she wanted to go home.

Jobes left the birthday party and drove toward her home. The crash described above occurred about 4:42 a.m. on April 19. The weather was clear and dry, and the crash injuries were life-threatening. Jobes was driving with a suspended license and was legally intoxicated and also had prescription anti-anxiety medication in her system. Jobes testified at her deposition that she had worked 3 straight weeks without a day off up until the crash. She could not remember a time when she had been more stressed.

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A lawsuit was filed against the Chicago Zoological Society, which operates Brookfield Zoo, on land owned by the Cook County Forest Preserve District. The case was filed by Kristine O’Toole for injuries that she suffered when she fell because of an alleged defect in the pavement.

The defendant, the Chicago Zoological Society, which is a not-for-profit corporation, moved to dismiss the lawsuit under the Illinois Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, which includes a shortened statute of limitations — that being one-year rather than two years for the usual tort claim. The shortened one-year deadline applies to “any not-for-profit corporation organized for the purpose of conducting public business.”

The Cook County judge granted the motion dismissing O’Toole’s case because she had not filed the lawsuit within the one-year statute of limitations from the date of her injury that the judge decided applied. She took an appeal claiming that the defendant did not qualify as a “local public entity” that would impose the one-year statute.

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On Aug. 2, 2005, Brandy Pirrello was a resident at Maryville Academy, a facility that houses and treats minors with behavioral problems. At the time, Brandy was 16 years old. She had been admitted to the facility in early 2005 and had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was at risk of suicide or self-harm. On Aug. 2, 2005, Brandy leaped from her second-story window, landed on a cement patio and seriously injured herself.

On July 17, 2007, Brandy turned 18 years old. The day before, she filed a lawsuit against Maryville. Brandy claimed that Maryville had been negligent in choosing not to take precautions against the risk that she would try to hurt herself. Brandy was seeking compensation for the expenses that she incurred due to her hospitalization and related medical expenses.

However, the injury and the bulk of the expenses incurred between the ages of 16 and 18 and as such, fell under Illinois Family Expense Act. By the terms of the act, the responsibility for paying for Brandy’s medical care was her parents’ responsibility rather than Brandy herself. Therefore, her parents had the right to sue. Brandy’s parents did not join her as a plaintiff in the lawsuit. Brandy’s parents divorced when she was 8, and Brandy was on her father’s health insurance at the time of her injuries. Brandy’s father indicated at a deposition that he did not intend to be involved in her lawsuit.

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