Articles Posted in Trial Practice

An Illinois Appellate Court for the First District reversed and remanded a decision from a Cook County trial judge after it entered a judgment order following a jury verdict. Scott Gilman drove over one of Sweta Karn’s feet as he was making a left turn at a Chicago intersection on Oct. 10, 2013. She filed a lawsuit a month later against him and his employer, Aspen Painting Inc. ,for negligence. At the jury trial, the defendants raised the defenses of contributory negligence and failure to mitigate damages.

Multiple expert witnesses testified that Karn suffered “severe and permanent” nerve injury to her left foot. One of the experts, Dr. Oleg Petrov, a witness for the defendants, was questioned about a surveillance video submitted by the defendants that “allegedly showed plaintiff, after the date of the injury, walking and standing for long periods of time without any signs of discomfort or pain.”

Although the person walking in the video was never identified, Dr. Petrov used the video as the basis for his opinion that Karn’s injuries were not severe or permanent. Dr. Dean Stern, who was Karn’s podiatrist and surgeon, testified at the trial that she was not the person in the surveillance video that Dr. Petrov used.

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Steven Campbell testified at trial that in early July 2012 he was working for UPS when the defendant’s dog lunged at him and pushed him backward. As a result, Campbell injured his back and was not able to continue to work that day. He sought medical treatment and took some time off from work to recover.

He returned to work the next month. However, when he did return to UPS, he was unable to complete all of his normal employment responsibilities.

Just two months after Campbell’s July 2012 injury, he returned to the clinic where he had previously been treated. In November of that year, he consulted with a board-certified neurosurgeon regarding his ongoing back pain. This doctor, Dr. Kennedy, prescribed physical therapy and epidural injections. Campbell told the jury that he followed Dr. Kennedy’s advice.

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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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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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