Articles Posted in Illinois Civil Procedure

Margaret Decharinte, 93,  was ruled to be competent to act as administrator of the estate of her late husband, Frank Decharinte. A hearing was conducted in 2018 hearing on objections made by her step-daughter, Joanne Bartolone. Bartolone’s attorney reported that she had interviewed Decharinte and that Decharinte “doesn’t know what year it is,” “thinks it’s 2014,” “doesn’t know what season it is,” “didn’t know what day of the week it is,” “doesn’t handle her own personal finances,” and “doesn’t know what her bank is.”

When Decharinte was questioned by the DuPage County Circuit Court judge, she gave some befuddled answers but insisted that she could handle the job with help from her daughter, Laurie. The judge ruled, “She’s competent enough to handle this with the assistance that she has.”

That decision was appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court for the Second District, which affirmed, explaining that the test for determining whether someone is competent to serve as an administrator under the Illinois Probate Act is the same as the standard for testamentary capacity: “the ability to know and remember the natural objects of his or her bounty, to understand the character of his or her property and to plan a disposition of that property.”

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An appellate court has ruled that Cook County is an appropriate venue for a lawsuit that involved a truck crash in Ohio and a company that primarily does its business out of a southern Illinois town.

The Illinois First District Appellate Court found that plaintiff Sergiu Tabirta’s lawsuit against driver James Cummings and Gilster Mary Lee Corp. (GML) can go forward in the Circuit Court of Cook County because GML does business in Cook County. GML is a private-label food manufacturer headquartered in Chester, Ill., which is located 62 miles south of St. Louis along the Mississippi River. GML employed a Cook County resident, James Bolton, who worked out of his home as GML’s “point person” for three customers – Aldi, Central Grocery and Sears/Kmart.

Bolton’s home could be considered an “other office” in Cook County, meaning Tabirta’s lawsuit against the company could proceed in Cook County as the Illinois Appellate Court of the First District found.

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Six investors in Lancelot Investors, a Cayman Islands hedge fund, were suckered by the operator of a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme. They sued Lancelot’s auditors in Cook County, where the offshore company is headquartered. The lawsuit alleged that fraudulent and negligent audit reports duped the six investors into pumping $79 million into Lancelot from 2004 to 2008, when the pyramid scheme was imploded, wiping out their investment.

However, the trial judge concluded that the internal-affairs doctrine required application of the United Kingdom’s “reflective loss” rule granted the defendants’’ motion to dismiss based on the investors’ lack of standing.

Applying Illinois law, the appellate court explained that there is “no meaningful difference” between “the shareholder standing rule followed in Illinois” and the U.K.’s reflective loss doctrine. And looking at the essence of the complaint, the Illinois Appellate Court for the First District reversed because “Lancelot’s conduct and the like have not been put at issue” and the plaintiffs were pursuing “a direct claim involving accounting fraud and misrepresentation that occurred in Illinois,” not “an indirect claim implicating the internal affairs of the Cayman Islands hedge fund.”

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Frank Russo appealed from an order that wiped out his $9.9 million jury verdict against Corey Steel. In this case, the trial judge stepped aside during the post-trial proceedings and Corey Steel’s request for a new trial was granted by a second judge. This was based on his disagreement with the first judge’s ruling on expert testimony.

The amount of damages was the only question for the jury to consider in this admitted-liability, personal-injury lawsuit. Russo, who had hip surgery after an incident caused by a Corey Steel employee, wanted to present testimony from Jeffrey Coe, a physician who also has a Ph.D. in occupational medicine. In his testimony, Dr. Coe would have stated that it is reasonably likely Russo will need an additional hip surgery in the future.

Corey Steel’s lawyer objected because Dr. Coe’s specialty is occupational medicine, not orthopedic surgery; however, the trial judge nonetheless permitted his testimony.

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The question in this case, which was posed to the Illinois Appellate Court, was: “Does the trial court have discretion to permit a Rule 215 medical examiner to testify when the attorney for the party examined has not been served with the examiner’s report within the time specified by Rule 215(c)?”

The answer the Illinois Appellate Court gave in conclusion was “No.”

The ruling came despite a violation of the portion of the Illinois Supreme Court Rule 215 that requires a physician who was hired by the defendant ‘s attorney to conduct a medical examination of the plaintiff to send a copy of his report to the plaintiff’s attorney within 21 days of the checkup – and despite the fact that the third sentence of Rule 215(c) prescribes exclusion as the automatic remedy for a violation of this deadline. In this case, a circuit court judge in Madison County, Ill., denied Linda Batson’s motion to bar Dr. Mitchell Rotman from testifying in her personal injury case against Schindler Elevator Corp. The judge certified the question of law for immediate appeal.

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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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