Articles Posted in Illinois Legislation

A bill signed into law decrees that cars and bikes must be treated as equals in Illinois. House Bill 5912 was signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner. The measure amends the Illinois Vehicle Code.  According to a recent report by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, the amendment to the code was prompted by the death of Dennis Jurs, a 68-year-old Army veteran who was biking when he was hit by a vehicle in Kane County last year.  Jurs’s death occurred at an intersection where north and southbound drivers have stop signs, but east and westbound vehicles did not.

In the October 2015 case, the driver of the car was charged with a failure to yield, but the case was dismissed when the Kane County judge ruled that there were conflicting rulings showing that bicyclists did not have the same rights as automobiles under Illinois law.

According to the article, the Jurs family, with their attorney Michael S. Keating, drafted the amendment to the Illinois Vehicle Code and pushed for its passage.

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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 a recent Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article, retired Cook County Circuit Court Judge Hon. Dennis Dohm wrote that the clear language found in Illinois’ 1970 Constitution, Section 13 titled “Trial by Jury,” of Article I’s Bill of Rights states that “the right of trial by jury as heretofore enjoyed shall remain inviolate.”

Judge Dohm compared that language of the 1970 Illinois Constitution to the State’s 1870 Constitution on jury trials, which stated, “The right of trial by jury as heretofore shall remain inviolate [but the trial of civil cases before justices of the peace by a jury of less than 12 men may be authorized by law].” The 1970 Constitution language as shown above includes none of that language that is shown in brackets. Justices of the peace were abolished by the 1962 Judicial Article to the 1870 Illinois Constitution.

It may be of historical note that in 1818 and 1848, Illinois had enacted constitutions that likewise stated that the right of trial by a jury was mandated by similar language as found in the 1870 and 1970 constitutions.

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Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a bill into law that would require defendants in most civil cases to submit to plaintiffs an executed release within 14 days of a written settlement agreement. The new law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

Significantly, the new law will require a defendant to pay all of the settlement amounts to the plaintiff within 30 days of the date that the signed release is tendered to the defendant. If the defendant fails to timely pay the money required by the agreement, the plaintiff can return to court on a motion for added costs and interest.

The law will create a new “Part 23” of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure to be titled “Settlement of Claims; Payment” (735 ILCS 5/2-2301).

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The Illinois Appellate Court has ruled that a condo resident was justified in not paying more than $2,000 in condo fees because the roof above and the brick facade outside her unit had not been properly prepared.

The plaintiff, Lisa Carlson, had been threatened with eviction for non-payment of her condo dues totaling $2,143. Her attorney filed an appeal under the Forcible Entry and Detainer Act (FED). The court found that the condo association had breached its duty to maintain and repair common elements of the building.

The decision was reported in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

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A recent story by The Baltimore Sun shows that thousands of lives have been saved over the years because Americans now routinely use seat belts and don’t drive drunk. In the meantime, a new crisis has arisen with driving, and that seems to be the use of texting and cell phones. Overdoses of prescription medicine have also affected car safety.

Andrea Gielen, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research & Policy, co-authored a report released by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The report brings to the fore the identification of ten important injury prevention measures. Some states have adopted many of these provisions. The report aims at influencing public policy and laws to change the behavior of individuals.

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Jury selection has begun on the retrial of Rod Blagojevich, the former Governor of Illinois. Late last summer Blagojevich faced his first federal trial for claims of racketeering and widespread corruption in his office. Perhaps most famously, Blagojevich was accused of trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder. However, after a lengthy and expensive trial, Blagojevich was found guilty of only one charge – lying to the FBI. The jury was hung, or unable to agree, on any of the remaining counts.

Because the jurors in the original Blagojevich trial were unable to agree upon the remaining counts, the case was declared a mistrial. This means that the federal government could choose to retry Blagojevich on all the other counts, an option it chose to exercise.

If found guilty of the remaining federal charges Blagojevich faces a lengthy prison sentence. While he already was convicted on one felony count last summer, which carries a maximum sentence of five years, the judge elected not to complete Blagojevich’s sentencing until the remaining counts have been tried. This means that although Blagojevich was found guilty over seven months ago that he has not served any of his jail time.

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A Cook County legal malpractice lawsuit involving the 2002 purchase of a private jet by former Chicago Bulls player Scottie Pippen recently came to a close. The former NBA star sued his Chicago law firm, Pedersen & Houpt, alleging that it had not properly disclosed the details of the ’02 transaction that left him the sole owner of a private jet. Pippen received $2 million as a result of the Cook County jury trial; Pippen & Air Pip, Inc. v. Pedersen & Houpt, et al., No. 04 L 34444.

Pippen’s complaint alleged that at the time he was purchasing the private jet he was under the impression that he was investing $1 million for a quarter-share of the plane and would only need to pay for expenses related to its use and upkeep. However, in reality the basketball player was purchasing 51 percent of the plane, taking out a loan of $5 million to do so.

When signing the documents Pippen stated that he believed that his lawyers at Pedersen & Houpt had approved the deal and was unaware that the conditions of the purchase had changed and that he was taking out a loan. According to the allegations Pippen lost $8 million as a result of the purchase.

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After almost three years of legal battles, the Illinois Supreme Court came to a decision on whether economic limits should be placed on Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits. In Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, the Illinois high court upheld a Cook County Circuit Court ruling that the Illinois law on medical malpractice non-economic damage caps violate the Illinois Constitution’s “separation of powers” clause.

This decision essentially states that the Illinois legislators interfered with a jury’s right to determine the amount of economic damages in Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits. The recent Lebron decision marks the third time that the Illinois Supreme Court struck down unconstitutional limits on medical malpractice awards, having done so with similar law in both 1976 and 1997.

The underlying lawsuit, Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, stems from a 2006 Illinois birth injury lawsuit filed by the family of a girl who suffered severe brain damage during her delivery at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, Illinois.

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether a strict local and state gun control law violates the Second Amendment when it reviews a lower court’s decision to uphold Chicago’s handgun ban. The Chicago case was filed following the Supreme Court’s June 2008 decision in the District of Columbia v. Heller, which struck down a District of Columbia handgun ban.

Chicago’s handgun ban was similar to the one that was then overturned in D.C. Both municipalities made it illegal to carry unregistered handguns, but also did not allow residents to legally register their handguns. As a result of these conditions, essentially any handgun becomes illegal.

The current case comes before the Supreme Court after the Seventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the Chicago handgun ban. The Court also upheld a similar handgun ban in Oak Park, a Chicago suburb.

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