In 2014 the U.S. Supreme Court cast doubt on the legality of mandatory union fees for non-union members. The opinion of the high court did not strike the fee as being a constitutional violation; instead, they commented that the precedent validating the fees “appeared questionable on several grounds.”

That case decision, Pamela Harris v. Pat Quinn, encouraged those who oppose mandatory union fees; thus it is another Illinois case that is poised to be heard and decided by the high court. This new case is Mark Janus v. American Federal of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which was filed in 2015. Gov. Bruce Rauner was originally a party plaintiff in the case, but he was dismissed. Other state workers argued that part of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Acts, which allows for the dues, violates the First Amendment because they help pay for unions’ political activity.

The plaintiffs in this case claim that nonmembers are still forced to pay 79 and 98 percent, respectively, of what full members of AFSCME and the Teamsters/Professional & Technical Employees Local Union are required to pay.

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Tom Gillette parked his pickup truck in a residential neighborhood in Everett, Wash. He was there doing construction work on a home. As he was unloading sawhorses from the back of his truck, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Deputy John Sadro, who was transporting a witness to court, ran a stop sign while traveling 49 mph in a 25 mph zone. Another motorist, who had the right-of-way, broadsided the police cruiser, causing it to spin around and strike Gillette, pinning him between the police cruiser and the bumper of his truck.

Gillette was 59 years old at the time; he suffered severe crush injuries to both of his legs, which were almost fully traumatically amputated at the scene. He was hospitalized and nearly died from blood loss. Doctors were unable to save either of his legs. His left leg was amputated just below the knee while his right leg was amputated at the knee.

Gillette underwent more than 12 surgeries and spent nearly two months in the hospital. Now he uses a wheelchair and requires some assistance with daily living activities. His past medical expenses totaled more than $425,000 and his future care costs are estimated at more than $1,300,000.

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A Jackson County, Ill., jury has signed a verdict for $2.3 million for Frank Adams who suffered a shoulder injury and abnormal scarring condition after he dodged a vehicles in a rear-end crash.

Adams was working as an Illinois Department Transportation (IDOT) flagger at the time of the crash. He sued pest-control company Terminix and its employee Brian Doll in 2015 claiming that Doll consciously ignored several school-zone signs and IDOT work warnings before causing the collision with an Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) van in March 2014.

The jury’s verdict, which included $2,500 in punitive damages, is the highest verdict ever reported from Jackson County, Ill., according to the Jury Verdict Reporter. Adams had stopped the Illinois Department of Corrections van driven by Charles Ray Borum, which contained eight inmates at the time, because IDOT workers were trimming trees along Illinois Route 146 near Pope County High School.

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The Illinois Appellate Court for the 1st District has held that a Taiwanese bicycle company will remain a party defendant in a lawsuit filed by an Illinois resident who was injured after the fork of her bicycle snapped in half without warning.

The appeals panel has found that Giant Manufacturing Ltd., a Taiwanese company, was within the personal jurisdiction of Janet Kowal’s lawsuit. In 2013, she sued Giant Manufacturing in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Giant Manufacturing is the Taiwanese company that makes Giant bicycles. The lawsuit included as defendants other entities who sold or did maintenance work on her Giant bike.

Because Giant Manufacturing, through its United States subsidiary and its authorized retailers, had enough of a deliberate presence within Illinois, the court held that the company could be potentially liable in the lawsuits involving one of its products.  The case was appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court on an interlocutory basis.

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The Illinois Appellate Court of the 1st District resolved a discovery dispute in an insurance coverage lawsuit between plaintiff-insured Motorola Solutions Inc. and the defendant-insurers Zurich Insurance Co. and Associated Indemnity Corp. The court held that absent an applicable cooperation clause, attorney-client privilege applies to any appropriate documents.

This was an insurance coverage dispute between Motorola and the two insurance companies that had to do with several personal injury lawsuits brought by former employees and contractors who claimed they had been exposed to chemicals in “clean rooms” located in Motorola’s manufacturing facilities. It was argued that the court should require defendants to defend and absorb defense costs for these personal injury actions.

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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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Ricky Murphy rode his bicycle across the street at an intersection when a motor vehicle driven by the defendant Stephen Lane Hare collided with him. Murphy who was 49 at the time suffered a fractured left ankle and tibia.

Because of the fractures, his ankle developed necrosis, which will necessitate a future ankle fusion surgery or an ankle replacement. Murphy’s medical expenses totaled $44,000.

As a landscaper, he was earning approximately $20,000 per year.  Now he is unable to do that job and works as a Salvation Army intake clerk at a reduced salary.

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This was a pretrial hearing on the motion to add a punitive damage count to a complaint against the Catholic Bishop of Chicago for alleged negligent conduct in hiring, supervising and retaining a priest who allegedly abused John Doe when he was a third-grade student at St. Agatha Academy. The archdiocese argued that Doe shouldn’t have to prove that representatives actually knew about the priest’s wrongdoing and wicked proclivities.

The trial judge ruled that Doe’s evidence about the “utter indifference” of archdiocesan employees’ safety for the young students could justify an exemplary or a claim of punitive damages. The judge certified the question of law for immediate appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court. The appeals panel concluded that the judge “used the appropriate standard” in concluding that Doe may demand punitive damages in his amended complaint.

“Simply put,” Justice Sheldon A. Harris explained, “the trial court may allow a claim for punitive damages if the evidence would reasonably support a finding that defendant acted willfully, or with such gross negligence as to indicate a wanton disregard of the rights of others.”

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has reversed a decision by a district court judge of the Southern District of Illinois. Reginald Pittman was a pretrial detainee in the Madison County Jail when he hanged himself from the bars of his cell with a blanket. He did not die, but he sustained brain damage that left him in a vegetative state, cared for entirely by his mother without any government benefits.

Pittman had left a suicide note in which he stated that he was killing himself because the guards were not letting him see crisis counselors. His mother brought this lawsuit against Madison County, as well as jail staffers, charging deliberate indifference by guards and other jail staff to the risk of his attempting suicide, in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In 2011, the federal district court judge granted summary judgment in favor of all the defendants, but the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed as to Randy Eaton and Matt Warner, two of the jail’s guards, on the ground that there was a genuine issue of fact as to whether they had been deliberately indifferent to the risk that Pittman would attempt suicide.

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Plaintiffs Lenny and Tracy Chapman filed a lawsuit against Hiland Partners GP Holdings LLC, et al. who owned and operated a natural gas plant in North Dakota. Missouri Basin offers trucking services to gas companies in North Dakota. Hiland entered into a Master Service Contract (Hiland MSC) with Missouri Basin in 2008 whereby Missouri Basin, as “Contractor,” agreed to perform various services for Hiland.

As part of the agreement, Missouri Basin agreed to “indemnify, defend and save harmless Hiland Group . . . from and against any and all claims, demands, judgments, defense costs, or suits . . . in any way, directly or indirectly, arising out of or related to the performance of this Contract.”  The Hiland MSC also included an Oklahoma choice-of-law provision.

On Oct. 18, 2011, Hiland requested Missouri Basin to remove water from condensation tanks at the Watford plant. Missouri Basin contacted B&B Heavy Haul LLC who sent the plaintiff Lenny Chapman to the gas plant. Chapman arrived shortly after midnight.  He and an employee of Hiland began connecting the tank to the B&B truck that Chapman was driving. An explosion occurred and Chapman was seriously injured.

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