Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

Cameron Hansen, 48, was a cement mason working at a construction site at Loretto Hospital at 645 Central Ave. in Chicago. The defendant in this case was Stone Mountain Access Systems Inc., which was the company that provided the scaffolding at the job site. Stone Mountain was responsible for designing and consulting for the building of this scaffold for this job.

Hansen was attempting to disassemble the scaffolding on Nov. 11, 2010 when it tipped over and he fell to the ground. Hansen sustained a traumatic brain injury along with unspecified injuries to his neck, left shoulder, left hip and left knee. He required five surgeries and physical therapy. The injuries left him with permanent disability.

He blamed Stone Mountain for the placement of counter-weights for the scaffold falling over and this accident. Stone Mountain maintained that there was nothing wrong with the equipment or the way the scaffold was built and argued that Hansen’s dismantling of the scaffold was the sole cause of the scaffold’s fall.

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Kathleen Waldeck was driving a car that was alleged to have rear-ended the car of the plaintiff, Andice Peacock, causing her injuries. Peacock had alleged that her car was rear-ended by Waldeck while waiting for a stoplight to turn green.

The lawsuit alleged that Peacock’s vehicle was stopped at a red light when the collision occurred, and “there were no visual obstructions to block defendant’s view of plaintiff’s vehicle.”  In the Waldeck answer, she admitted her car rear-ended Peacock’s vehicle and that her view was not obstructed.  In the meantime, before bringing this summary judgment motion, Waldeck passed away.  Her representative of the estate, Barton Waldeck, argued that the Dead-Man’s Act barred Peacock from testifying about this car crash.

A DuPage County, Ill., circuit court judge granted the motion for summary judgment in favor of the Estate of Kathleen Waldeck. Peacock appealed.

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By July 1, 2017, e-filing of civil cases in Illinois will be mandatory for the Illinois Supreme Court and Illinois Appellate Courts. Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, e-filing of civil cases will be mandated for all Illinois courts.

The Illinois Supreme Court entered an order this year, M.R.18368, which set the timeline for mandatory e-filings statewide. A unified e-filing system is designed to increase court efficiency and streamline the litigation process for lawyers and pro se litigants.

The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) has hired Texas-based Tyler Technologies to roll out a centralized, statewide e-filing system. The Tyler Technologies’ platform is currently being used in 19 states.

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Raymond Berke fell in the vestibule of an apartment building where he and his wife were staying with friends. A doorman heard but did not see him fall. There were no eyewitnesses. He suffered spinal injuries that rendered him a quadriplegic. He has no memory of his fall.

Berke filed a lawsuit against the building owner and the management company claiming that the vestibule area, stairs and doorway, in particular, were improperly designed and maintained and were a direct and proximate cause of his injuries.  His wife brought a loss of consortium claims against both defendants.

The defendants moved for summary judgment. The trial judge entered judgment in their favor. The Berkes argued that they presented sufficient admissible evidence to support their prima facie case of premises liability that would preclude summary judgment. They also contended that the trial court erred in striking parts of their expert witness affidavits, submitted in support of their response to defendants’ summary judgment motion and that the court should have granted their motion to cite supplemental authority.

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A contract was entered into between Beckett Media LLC and OnRamp Technologies to allow Beckett to use OnRamp’s applications and websites for “inventory management and sales solution.” According to the contract, “in the event of any litigation of any controversy or dispute arising out of or related to this agreement, the prevailing party shall be entitled to an award of reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.”

On Oct. 1, 2010, Beckett filed a lawsuit against OnRamp claiming breach of contract, unjust enrichment and violation of the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Consumer Fraud of Deceptive Business Practices Act.

During the trial, the parties voluntarily dismissed the claims about violation of the two deceptive practices act. Beckett filed an amended complaint for unjust enrichment, breach of contract and replevin, seeking the return of its server as well as money damages incurred by OnRamp’s refusal to return the server.

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The Illinois Appellate Court for the First District has affirmed a judgment that pierced the corporate veil of a closely held corporation and then awarded the plaintiff attorney fees connected to this litigation. The case was reported to be one of first impression in Illinois.

Steiner Electric sold electrical products on credit to Delta Equipment Co., a corporation wholly owned by an individual, Leonard Maniscalco. Although there were many attempts to collect payment, Steiner finally sued Delta and obtained a default judgment for the purchase price plus interest, attorney fees and costs. By the time judgment was entered, Delta no longer existed. Steiner  filed suit against Maniscalco and Sackett Systems Inc., another corporation wholly owned by Maniscalco. That lawsuit sought to pierce Delta’s corporate veil and hold both Maniscalco, individually and Sackett Systems Inc., liable for the default judgment.

Steiner was successful in proving that it was entitled to pierce the veil wherein both Maniscalco and Sackett Systems appealed from that order.

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The Illinois Supreme Court has reversed a decision by a trial judge and the Illinois Appellate Court that dismissed a lawsuit against the East Joliet Fire Protection District regarding the death of Coretta Coleman. Her family claimed that the defendant, East Joliet Fire Protection District and its ENTs, were both negligent and willful and wanton in their conduct for choosing not to respond to a 911 call.

Coleman had called an ambulance by 911 because she was having difficulty breathing. This happened in June 2008. She gave the 911 dispatcher her address and told the person to “hurry.”  The 911 dispatcher asked Coleman to hold and transferred the call from the Will County dispatch to the Orland Central dispatch.

Deviating from written protocol, the Will County dispatch hung up after making a transfer without communicating to Orland Central dispatch the nature of the emergency. When Orland Central dispatch attempted to ask Coleman questions, it received no response and did not know whether the call was dropped or if Coleman was still on the line. The Orland Central dispatch staffer hung up and placed the call in line for an ambulance dispatch.

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A house fire severely injured two individuals, Estella Wofford and Leo Seay. The fire was caused by longstanding electrical problems. The claims made by Wofford and Seay were hampered because the landlord’s insurance company, its investigators and the contractor it hired to remove the fire debris destroyed important evidence, including electrical wires, a fuse box and outlets.

Wofford and Seay filed a lawsuit against the landlord for negligence within two years. However, their spoliation claim was filed more than two years, but less than five years, after the fire and their injuries.

Based on the case of Schusse v. Pace, 334 Ill.App.3d 960 (2002), Wofford and Seay requested that the court apply the five-year deadline that is provided by Section 13-205 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure. But the presiding judge decided the case following Babich v. River Oaks Toyota, 377 Ill.App.3d 427 (2007) and dismissed the spoliation claim because it was not filed within the two-year deadline set by Section 13-202 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure.

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The Illinois Supreme Court has affirmed a decision of a trial judge who denied a motion for substitution of judge that is usually a matter of right under 735 ILCS 5/2-1001(a)(2)(ii). In this case, the special administrator of the Estate of Bowman, Connie Bowman, filed a medical negligence case against Dr. Michael V. Ottney. There were pretrial rulings on substantive issues involving discovery disclosures. Bowman at that point voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit with the right to refile within one year without prejudice. The underlying lawsuit was brought by the plaintiff Connie Bowman who was the special administrator of the estate of Char Bowman who sought damages against the defendant Ottney.

The refiled lawsuit was then assigned to the very same judge who presided over the earlier proceedings. Again, Bowman moved for substitution of judge as a matter of right. The circuit court judge denied the motion but certified a question to the Illinois Appellate Court, which concluded that the court had discretion to deny a motion for substitution filed by a plaintiff where the court had ruled on matters of substance in the plaintiff’s previously filed but now dismissed lawsuit.

The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed. In doing so, the Supreme Court said Bowman could have moved for substitution of judge as a matter of right during the proceedings on her 2009 complaint, the first lawsuit. She could have done this even after the judge ruled on matters of substance. Bowman could have moved for cause under Section 2-1001(a)(3) in either the 2009 or the 2013 litigation.

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In an Illinois Appellate Court decision of first impression, it was found that a non-guardian spouse cannot challenge a guardian’s petition to seek an order to bring dissolution of marriage action on behalf of the ward in the probate court. Previously in the Illinois Supreme Court case of Karbin v. Karbin, 2012 IL 112815, the high court held that a guardian may seek court permission to bring a marriage dissolution action on behalf of a ward and overruled a contrary rule previously established. The Karbin decision was later codified as an amendment to the Probate Act, by amending 755 ILCS 5/11a-17(e).

The Karbin opinion and the Act set out certain procedural and substantive safeguards to protect the ward. Among those safeguards is the requirement that a circuit court considering a petition to file for dissolution of marriage hold a hearing to determine whether dissolution is in ward’s best interest. This case was one of first impression because it was a non-guardian spouse who attempted to challenge whether it was in the best interest of the ward to file a complaint for dissolution of marriage. The issue was whether the non-guardian spouse has standing in the “best interests of the ward” hearing.

George F. Warga, the ward, was 91 years old. When his first wife became ill, he hired a nurse, Laima Bacanskas, to help with her care. His first wife died in 2000. Warga continued to retain Bacanskas to help with household duties. In 2006, the two married. They had no children.

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