Articles Posted in Illinois Civil Procedure

The Illinois Appellate Court for the First District affirmed a decision from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Probate Division. In this case, when James Cerami died on Jan. 16, 2013, he had been married to Christina Cerami for nearly 20 years. About seven months after James’s death, Christina opened a probate estate and petitioned for letters of administration maintaining that although a will was apparently executed by James and filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County on Feb. 4, 2013, Christina “at this time does not have sufficient information with which to make any determination regarding the validity of this will of the decedent.”

Christina filed a claim against James’s estate on Jan. 15, 2015 seeking in excess of $100,000 for “custodial care” and alleging that due to a breach of their premarital agreement, she was owed a “share of earning and benefits.”

In line with the party’s 1993 premarital agreement, James was to name Christina as entitled to any survivor benefits and as the sole beneficiary of a life insurance policy “in an unencumbered amount not less than $100,000.”

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Under the discovery rule, does the statute of limitations clock start when the harm is discovered? Or is it when the plaintiff discovers that the harm was “wrongfully caused?” The Illinois Appellate Court, First District, held that the statute of limitations clock starts when the harm is discovered.

During a storm in Chicago with strong winds, a portion of the roof of an auto sales and service business flew off and struck nearby power lines. The plaintiff in this case alleged that the resulting electric surge damaged computers used in a sophisticated metal manufacturing operation.

Years later, M&S Industrial Co. discovered that its neighbor’s roof had been defectively installed, which violated building codes. The company filed a lawsuit. The defendant moved to dismiss the case given that the four-year statute of limitations applicable to claims of construction negligence had expired.

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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.

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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.

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The plaintiff, Maria Papadakis, was injured when she slipped and fell on an unsecured piece of equipment while exercising at the defendant health club under the supervision of the personal trainer. The court was found to have erred in dismissing counts alleging willful and wanton acts by the personal trainer; it was sufficiently pleaded in the complaint of respondeat superior liability for willful and wanton conduct and negligence of the personal trainer.

Papadakis sued the health club, its corporate affiliate and the personal trainer, Chad Drake, for negligence and willful and wanton conduct. She also sued the Fitness 19 Defendants under a theory of respondeat superior for the conduct of their employee, Drake.

The trial court dismissed the direct claims of willful and wanton conduct against the Fitness 19 Defendants but left intact the willful-and-wanton allegations against the personal trainer, Drake. That was the ruling that was challenged in this appeal.

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Teresa Mroczko was employed by A & R Janitorial to do custodial work.  On Aug. 17, 2012, she was injured while working at an Illinois Blue Cross/Blue Shield building. A desk, which had been moved during the renovation of the building, fell on her and she was injured.

Pepper Construction Co. had been hired to renovate the building and had subcontracted for replacing the carpets to another defendant in this case, Perez & Associates. Perez had moved the desk in the course of replacing the carpets.

Mroczko filed a workers’ compensation claim against A & R Janitorial, her employer and was granted relief, although the claim is currently being reviewed on appeal.

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During the discovery of this lawsuit, Scarlett Palm argued that she was entitled to the medical records of defendant Ruben Holocker based on the exception to the physician-patient privilege for “action brought by or against the patient . . . wherein the patient’s physical and mental condition is an issue.” 735 ILCS 5/8-802(4).

She was injured when she was struck by the vehicle driven by Holocker when she stepped into a crosswalk. Palm invoked the “at issue” exception based on evidence that, in the 20 years before Holocker allegedly injured Palm, he was involved in seven or eight auto accidents; he also accumulated a dozen traffic tickets; and, because of his diabetes, he had to submit a physician’s “letter of approval” to qualify for a driver’s license.

The trial court agreed with Palm and granted her motion for permission to subpoena Holocker’s records from his physician — identified by the Illinois Appellate Court as “Dr. Nau” – and the Illinois secretary of state.

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Frank Barnai was injured while he was working for Summit Fire Protection Co. on a construction project. He sued the general contractor, International Contractors Inc. (ICI), the owner, Wal-Mart and electrical subcontractor, Nuline Technologies.  These defendants then brought a third-party action against Summit Fire Protection Co. for contribution.

Summit did not contribute when ICI, Wal-Mart and Nuline settled with Barnai for $5 million. As part of that settlement, the defendants assigned to Barnai their contribution claims against Summit.

Over Summit’s objection, the presiding Cook County judge granted Barnai’s motion for a good-faith finding even though the judge was not informed about how the settlement agreement allocated the $5 million payment between the defendants.

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A jury found that the defendant Charles Dahms acted negligently and with willful and wanton misconduct against the plaintiff, Terry Enadeghe, when he beat him with his briefcase during a morning encounter on the street. Dahms appealed arguing that the trial judge erred in relying on his prior criminal conviction for battery as a basis for liability and in denying jury instructions and special interrogatories. Furthermore, the defendant contended that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the defendant’s motions for mistrial and permitting the plaintiff to amend his complaint.

On March 20, 2013, following a criminal jury trial, defendant Dahms was found guilty of aggravated battery on a public way, 720 ILCS 5/12-3.05(c), for the incident in this case. He was sentenced to eighteen months’ probation.  On appeal, the criminal conviction was affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court denied the defendant’s petition for leave to appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court denied his petition for certiorari.

The evidence in the criminal case showed that in October 2011, Enadeghe was driving his taxicab in downtown Chicago when he stopped at a traffic light in the middle of the crosswalk, unintentionally blocking it.  Dahms, the defendant, then approached and smashed his briefcase into the taxi’s front windshield shattering it and then walked away. Enadeghe parked and confronted Dahms, asking him to survey the damage to his cab. At one point, Enadeghe attempted to block Dahms and grabbed the briefcase.  Enadeghe, the plaintiff, then felt a “bang” on his face as Dahms took his briefcase once again, and using it to hit Enadeghe in the nose, knocked him unconscious.  Enadeghe was hospitalized and received eleven stitches from the bridge of his nose to under his eye. He later had surgery under general anesthesia. Dahms was subsequently arrested and Enadeghe identified him in a police lineup.

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In September 2016, we wrote about the Illinois Appellate Court decision in this case, Manago v. County of Cook, 2016 IL App (1st) 121365. In that case, the Illinois Appellate Court found that liens obtained by hospitals under the Hospitals’ Health Care Services Lien Act (770 ILCS 23/1 et seq.) (the “Lien Act”), are not limited to or conditioned upon a finding or allocation for medical expenses for injuries sustained by a minor.

In the underlying case, Manago was a minor and was injured while riding on the roof of an elevator owned by the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). His next friend and mother, April Pritchett, brought this lawsuit against the CHA, H.J. Russell & Co. and A.N.B. Elevator Services Inc. The complaint sought damages for the child’s injuries and included an allegation pertaining to medical expenses. At the trial, the Manago plaintiff was awarded $200,000 in total although none of the recovery was for medical expenses. The trial court granted the plaintiff’s motion to strike, dismiss and extinguish the hospital’s lien.

On appeal by the County of Cook, the Appellate Court concluded that the lien was invalid for two reasons. First, the mother “did not assign her cause of action for medical expenses for her son even though, pursuant to the Family Expense Act, that action belonged solely to the minor’s parents.”

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