A Cook County jury’s not-guilty verdict for Tinley Park Roller Rink, a south suburban roller rink, will stand after the Illinois Appellate Court reversed a trial court’s order of a new trial. The appeals panel stated that there was nothing wrong with the jury instructions allowed by the trial judge that were used by the jury to reach its verdict.

In March 2016, the trial judge ordered a new trial for the plaintiff Marie Largen who filed a lawsuit alleging negligence against the Tinley Park Roller Rink citing a potentially confusing Illinois Civil Jury Pattern Instruction (IPI) 60.01 that quoted the entire Roller Skating Rink Safety Act and may have thrown jurors off during their deliberations.

The Illinois Appellate Court reversed the trial judge’s order for a new trial on plaintiff’s post-trial motion in a unanimous decision. The appeals panel rejected Largen’s counsel’s argument that including the statute’s assumed-risk language asked the jurors to answer a purely legal question when reaching its decision.

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A 10-year-old girl, identified as E.H., was with her family at Dehn’s Pumpkins, a Minnesota pumpkin patch. The facility included a petting zoo in which children could pet the cows housed in a feedlot behind a metal gate. E.H. spent some time feeding the cows.

Several days later, E.H. began suffering fever, cramps and diarrhea. When her symptoms worsened, E.H.’s parents took her to a hospital emergency room where the staff diagnosed an E. coli infection.

The E. coli infection led to hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is a severe complication that results when toxins from the bacteria enters the patient’s bloodstream and finds its way to the kidneys.

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New construction in the U.S. is at an all-time high. According to the 2017 Rider Levett Bucknall Crane index, Chicago makes the top three, along with Seattle and Los Angeles, among cities with the most cranes in operation in the U.S. at the start of 2017.

In many of the construction sites as one travels into the Chicago Loop and surrounding area, you will see many towering cranes in operation. However, it has been noted by insurance specialists that when cranes are being moved on and off a job-site is the riskiest time because that is when most injuries or damages occur. Most of the cranes in operation in the Chicago area are mobile cranes.

Most of the insurance policies written for liability are on mobile cranes. In order to bring such a mobile crane to a construction site, particularly in Chicago’s Loop and surrounding areas, transporters use large flatbed trucks — usually those with 16 wheels or 12 wheels. To assemble the crane at the job-site, tower cranes and larger cranes have to be dismantled, trucked in and then reassembled on site.

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In this incident involving a cab and pedestrian, three weeks after Express Cab Dispatch Inc. and Express Cab Company Inc. (collectively, Express Cab), leased Luis Leal a taxi cab, he struck a pedestrian, the plaintiff, Margaret Baumrucker.  She was walking to her job at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, Ill. Although Leal was driving at a slow speed, he knocked Baumrucker to the ground injuring her left shoulder.  She had years of physical therapy and, according to her physician, the shoulder injury is permanent and likely will cause her pain and restrict some activities for the rest of her life.

Baumrucker sued Express Cab, alleging negligence and willful and wanton entrustment of the cab to Leal. Baumrucker sued Leal for negligence and argued that Express Cab acted recklessly by choosing not to thoroughly check Leal’s driving record, which would have shown that while living in another state he had been convicted of driving while intoxicated in 2000 and ticketed for speeding more than 85 mph in 2010. Express Cab conceded that Leal was negligent and Baumrucker was injured, but contested the extent of her injuries and the allegations that Express Cab acted willfully and wantonly by entrusting the cab to Leal.

After a jury trial, a verdict was returned in favor of Baumrucker and signed a verdict for $897,740.81, which included $397,740.81 in compensatory damages plus $500,000 in punitive damages.

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Cedric Smith sued the United States government under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. Section 2671 et seq., claiming injuries from a fall off of a broken metal stool in a secured attorney-client interview room at the U.S. District Court in Rock Island, Ill.

Smith’s lawsuit relied on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur (“the thing speaks for itself”), claiming that when he sat on the stool, it tilted backward, causing him to fall, hit his head and suffer permanent injuries.

The district court judge granted summary judgment for the federal government finding that the Smith evidence was insufficient to create an inference of negligence because others could have broken the stool or Smith could just have fallen from an undamaged stool in the absence of negligence on the part of anyone.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago reversed the granting of the summary judgment motion in an opinion written by Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner, holding that Smith’s evidence was sufficient to create a jury question as to whether the government was negligent.

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Mazda Motor Corp. appealed a judgment involving its Mazda 3 car. There were two jury verdicts that resulted from two product liability claims filed in Alabama. The lawsuits arose out of a crash involving a Mazda 3 driven by then 16-year-old Sydney McLemore, with 15-year-old Natalie Hurst as a passenger.

McLemore was driving 55 mph in a 35-mile-per-hour speed zone when she lost control of the car. The Mazda spun around and hit a light pole before coming to a stop and then burst into flames.

McLemore suffered third-degree burns covering approximately 15% of her body. Unfortunately, Natalie Hurst died from her burn injuries. The Hurst parents filed a lawsuit against Mazda and McLemore, asserting wrongful death. They also filed what was important in this case — a product liability lawsuit and claim related to the fuel tank of the Mazda 3.

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A lineman working for an electrical contractor identified in this confidential settlement and lawsuit as Mr. Doe was hired to install a new electrical switch and cross arm at the top of a wooden utility pole. Mr. Doe climbed the pole and then strapped his work-positioning belt around himself and the pole. While Mr. Doe was adjusting his position, the belt came up over the top of the pole causing him to disconnect from it. Mr. Doe fell 60 feet to the ground and suffered catastrophic injuries.

Doe, 28, sustained a severe traumatic brain injury affecting his brain stem, spinal fractures resulting in incomplete quadriplegia and other orthopedic injuries.

Mr. Doe now has memory loss and other cognitive problems, including speech and vision deficits, lost sense of smell, severe headaches, spasticity in all four limbs and neurogenic bladder and bowel issues.

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The plaintiffs in this case filed a complaint against the defendant insurance company, United Equitable Insurance Co., alleging breach of contract in bad faith when United Equitable would not pay the plaintiffs’ claims from an auto accident involving an uninsured motorist.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial judge granted. On appeal, United Equitable argued that the court erred because the policy required plaintiffs to unequivocally demand arbitration and appoint an arbitrator within two years of the incident, which plaintiffs did not do.

The appeals panel stated that the court erred in granting plaintiffs’ motion. The arbitration provision in the insurance policy stated that disagreements concerning uninsured motorist coverage and damages “shall be submitted to arbitration” within two years. A party sufficiently commences arbitration if the request for arbitration is unequivocal and made according to the terms of the policy.

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Forrest Buchtel, 74, was riding his bike southbound on Sherman Avenue in Evanston, Ill.  He stopped for a stop sign at Greenleaf Street, which is a four-way stop intersection and then began peddling his bike into the intersection when he was hit by an eastbound car driven by the defendant, Jason Whitaker.

Buchtel testified that he saw the Whitaker SUV about one-half block away as he peddled through the intersection and observed that Whitaker was not looking at the road ahead while talking to a woman in the front passenger seat.  Whitaker ran the stop sign.

The impact between the SUV driven by Whitaker and Buchtel on his bike, knocked him onto the hood of the SUV and then onto the pavement of the street.

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Joanne Turner, an electrician, was working on a roof of a community college building that was under construction. As she climbed a 20-foot roof access ladder, she slipped and fell about 15 feet to the concrete floor below.

Turner was 53 years old at the time. As a result of this fall, she suffered an L-2 burst fracture, a fractured right femur and foot and bilateral knee injuries.

Turner underwent open reduction internal fixation of the femur fracture. She also required the implantation of a retrograde nail in her right knee. She was hospitalized for about a week. She spent twelve days in an inpatient rehabilitation facility and remained off her leg for about two-and-a-half months. She was also required to wear a back brace for an additional three months.

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