Articles Posted in Illinois Procedural Law

The plaintiff, August Bosman, who was the special administrator of the Estate of Joan Bosman, appealed from the denial of his motion for a new trial. The plaintiff argued that the court was in error in replacing a holdout juror with an alternative juror during jury deliberations.

The lawsuit was filed in June 2011 against Riverside Health System, d/b/a  Miller Healthcare Center and Riverside Senior Living Center where it was alleged that Joan Bosman suffered multiple necrotic pressure ulcers while she was a resident of the long-term care facility operated by the defendant Riverside Health System.

During jury selection, one juror was questioned about whether she had been personally involved in or knew someone who was involved in an incident that resulted in personal injuries or damages and if the incident resulted in a lawsuit. This juror said her friend had filed a lawsuit against a nursing home after her friend’s mother died from injuries sustained while she resided at the facility. The juror assured the court that her prior experiences would not affect her ability to sit as a juror. In addition, defense counsel asked this juror whether she personally had any experience receiving rehabilitative care or knew someone who had received care. The juror said she had no experience receiving rehabilitative care and that she could set aside her friend’s experience with the nursing home and decide the case on the evidence presented.

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A new Illinois law related to nursing homes went into effect on Jan. 1, 2016. The law states, “A resident shall be permitted to conduct authorized electronic monitoring of the resident’s room through the use of electronic monitoring devices placed in the room pursuant to this act,” Section 10(a).

This new statute places ownership and control of the electronic monitoring process in the hands of the resident. “A resident choosing to conduct authorized electronic monitoring must do so at his or her expense, including paying purchase, installation, maintenance and removal costs,” Section 25.

Because of the authority of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, once a video recording is made in a resident’s room under this legislation, it is not permitted to be destroyed. Under the Nursing Home Care Act, “no person shall: Intentionally prevent or interfere with the preservation of evidence pertaining to any violation of this act or the rules promulgated under this act.” 210 ILCS 45/3-318(a)(4) (2015).

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The Illinois Appellate Court for the First District has affirmed in part and vacated in part a decision of the Circuit Court of Cook County. In January 2011, Robert Holman was a resident at a long-term care facility in Chicago called the Renaissance at Midway. On or near Jan. 22, 2011, he was assaulted by another resident of the long-term care facility. His left eye was injured, which severely impaired his vision.

Johnnie Stuckey, Holman’s sister, as well as his attorney, filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Public Health. On April 13, 2012, the department report showed that Holman had been assaulted by his roommate who had “become physically aggressive toward staff and pushed staff on [a] bed” in early January. The roommate, identified only as John Doe, was described in the report as “severely demented.”

Stuckey sent several discovery requests seeking information about John Doe. The defendant, the Renaissance at Midway, refused to comply, arguing that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prevented Renaissance from responding to the discovery requests, which in addition to his name included requests for Doe’s address, criminal background and history in the facility as well as his medical charts.

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In a nursing home dispute, the Illinois Appellate Court weighed in on an issue of whether a health-care power of attorney holder could bind the nursing home resident to an arbitration provision in order to gain admission to the long-term care facility. In this case, Edward M. Fiala Jr. sued Bickford Senior Living Group in Kane County, Ill. Bickford moved to compel arbitration based on an agreement, called “the establishment contract” that his daughter, Susan Kahanic, signed as attorney-in-fact under a health-care power of attorney.

Kahanic’s signature on the establishment contract was required in order to get Fiala admitted to Bickford Senior Living Group’s facility.

It was argued that the health-care power of attorney did not authorize Kahanic to consent to the arbitration provision in the establishment contract. The trial court agreed and denied Bickford’s motion.

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It happens that lawyers who handle nursing home abuse cases, medical negligence cases, personal injury cases, wrongful death cases, birth injury cases, product liability cases and general injury cases for those who were injured or killed work on a contingency basis with their clients. That means that the client pays nothing to the lawyer unless there is a recovery by way of a settlement or judgment. At times, cases that have been filed turn out to be not as solid as the lawyer may have envisioned. Sometimes, for other reasons dealing with the handling of the case or a client disagreement, the attorney and client agree to withdraw an appearance in the pending case so that the client can find another lawyer.

In one case that occurred in our practice, a case involving a man who was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, the attorney first handling the case withdrew early in the litigation and left the client to search for another attorney. The client located an attorney whose primary practice is outside of Illinois, but hired Kreisman Law Offices to act as local counsel.

The case was a very difficult and serious injury case. It involved a motorcycle and road construction. The client hired new counsel and the litigation ensued. After the taking of as many as 50 depositions of fact witnesses, experts and medical witnesses and after a long and tedious mediation, the case was finally settled two years later.

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Illinois State Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Democratic from Chicago, has proposed an amendment to the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure in the form of Senate Bill 1912. The purpose of the bill is to create an enforcement mechanism for civil cases that settle, but in which the defendant refuses to comply with the settlement terms. 

The change in law is limited to cases in which money damages are involved in the settlement of cases for personal injury, wrongful death or other tortious conduct. The act would require settling defendants to pay all sums due to the plaintiff within 21 days of the tender of all applicable settlement documents required under this new section.

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