The contract clause of the United States Constitution restricts the power of states to disrupt contractual arrangements. It provides that “No state shall  pass any . . . law impairing the obligation of contracts.” U.S. Const., Art. I, ¶ 10, cl. 1.

This was a case about life insurance proceeds. It generated a single dissent in the U.S. Supreme Court about the Constitution’s contract clause, which prohibits states from enacting laws that impair the obligation of contracts.

Mark Sveen named his wife, Kaye Melin, as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy he purchased in 1998. A 2002 Minnesota statute automatically revoked the designation (as beneficiary) when the couple divorced in 2007. Sveen’s children from a prior marriage claimed the life insurance proceeds as contingent beneficiaries when he died in 2011.

Continue reading

Blinderman Construction Co. was hired by the Public Building Commission of Chicago to be the general contractor for a construction project at an elementary school. Blinderman hired JM Polcurr Inc. as a subcontractor to do the electrical work on the project.

Following the contract, Polcurr purchased an insurance policy that named Blinderman as the additional insured from Hastings Mutual Insurance Co.

On July 19, 2011, Robert Woods, an employee of Polcurr, fell from a ladder while working at the school. He was rushed to a hospital; unfortunately he did not regain consciousness until a month later. He has not been able to work since that time due to his injuries.

Continue reading

The plaintiffs, Brittany N. Hage and Joann M. Blackmore, appealed the dismissal of their Count VI of Hage’s Fourth Amended Complaint, which added Blackmore as a party plaintiff in the Hage cause of action. The suit was filed against the defendant, Trisha L. Pannkuk.

Because the allegations in Count VI did not arrive out of the same transaction or occurrence as Hage’s original complaint, Count VI was barred by the applicable statute of limitations.  Accordingly, the Illinois Appellate Court for the Second District affirmed the dismissal of Count VI.

This incident arose out of the Feb. 1, 2011 13-vehicle crash that occurred on Route 72 in Ogle County, Ill.  The weather conditions included snow on the roadway and blowing snow, which greatly reduced visibility. There were several other lawsuits that arose out of this incident.

Continue reading

Matthew Martin, 19, was riding in the back seat of a Mini Cooper driven by his friend, Raymond Consul.  As they drove a winding road, Consul chose not to properly negotiate a curve.  He lost control of his car, which traveled off the roadway and hit a concrete barrier.

Martin suffered a severe traumatic brain injury and fell into a vegetative state. In addition, he suffered a spinal cord injury that caused paralysis. Martin had worked as an automotive detailer before this unfortunate crash.  Through a guardian, Martin sued Consul alleging that he was negligent in driving 60 mph in a 30-mph zone and in failing to maintain control of his vehicle.  The plaintiff guardian claimed lost wages for Martin totaling more than $138,200 and past medical expenses of $530,400.

The defendant argued that Martin’s injuries resulted from his choosing not to wear a seatbelt.

Continue reading

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago filed a complaint against Global Marketing Enterprises Inc., Lifeline Nutrients Corp. and Pronto Foods alleging that they violated the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

This act regulates the production and sale of drugs and dietary supplements, including how they are prepared, packaged and labeled.

A settlement was reached on Aug. 3, 2018 against these three Chicago companies, which were accused of selling misbranded dietary supplements and unapproved and misbranded drugs.

Continue reading

Daniel Dumrauf was a director with Medix Staffing Solutions Inc., a Chicago-based staffing agency. Dumrauf, who worked at Medix’s Scottsdale, AZ, office, had an employment agreement containing a noncompete clause that restricted him from any affiliation “with the ownership, management, operation or control” of any business in competition with Medix either directly or indirectly.

The noncompete clause had an 18-month lifespan and covered a 50-mile radius.

On Aug. 10, 2017, he resigned from his position with Medix and informed the company he would be taking a position with ProLink, a direct competitor of Medix. In his resignation correspondence, Dumrauf noted that 90% of his activity with ProLink would be done in Ohio and Kentucky.

Continue reading

Skylar Dimick was injured when he fell into a septic tank on the property owned by the defendant Scott Hopkinson. Dimick and his wife filed a negligence lawsuit against Hopkinson and his businesses, family trust and his wife, Chris Hopkinson.

In addition to the negligence count, the Dimick lawsuit also sought punitive damages for the defendants’ alleged willful and wanton misconduct.

The district court in this case granted summary judgment to all of the defendants concluding that: (1) Hopkinson and his businesses were protected by a valid release of liability that was signed by Dimick; (2) Hopkinson committed no willful and wanton act; (3) Chris Hopkinson (Scott’s wife) was neither a proximate cause of Dimick’s injuries nor was she engaged in a joint venture with Scott; and (4) the family trust of the Hopkinson did not exist.

Continue reading

Plaintiff Mary Carmichael was injured in a car accident while she was riding in a six-passenger van owned and operated by Professional Transportation Inc. (PTI). The vehicle was being driven by Dwayne Bell. The van was used to shuttle Union Pacific employees between job sites.

Carmichael sued PTI, Dwayne Bell and others, but eventually dismissed PTI because evidence indicated that Bell’s sole negligence was the cause of her injury.

Bell had minimum liability insurance coverage required by the Illinois Vehicle Code of just $20,000 per person, $40,000 per occurrence.

Continue reading

Jonathan Cunningham, a foreman for Troy Construction, was operating a pickup truck on his way to a job site. He drove through a red light and into an intersection at 36 mph striking the pickup truck driven by Jose Lara Sanchez. The crash caused Sanchez’s truck to strike a light pole, ejecting him from his vehicle.

As a result, in addition to fractures, Sanchez suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage that necessitated an emergency craniotomy. Sanchez also required an endovascular repair of a traumatic transection of his descending thoracic aorta.

After a three-week hospitalization, he was transferred to a skilled nursing facility for five months of aggressive rehabilitation. As a painter, Sanchez was unable to return to his job at which he earned approximately $28,000 per year. His medical expenses totaled $1.3 million.

Continue reading

Aundre Hobbs, 15, was a passenger in a car driven by his friend, another teenager, Armon Jones.  Armon reportedly turned left at a green left-turn signal and crashed into a car driven by James Gorham.

Aundre suffered a traumatic brain injury that required several life-saving surgeries. Aundre is now 17 years old.  He has lost the ability to speak, swallow, or chew solid foods and has severely diminished mobility, requiring a wheelchair and a walker. Aundre’s medical expenses were more than $1.46 million.

Aundre’s parents, on his behalf, sued James Gorham claiming that he chose not to heed a red light at the intersection and was responsible for the crash. The lawsuit also maintained that Gorham was driving 50 mph through the intersection, 10 mph over the speed limit, according to black-box evidence obtained from his vehicle.

Continue reading