Articles Posted in Inadequate Security

Cook County appealed an order entered by the Circuit Court judge that struck, dismissed and extinguished a hospital lien arising under the Healthcare Services and Lien Act (Act) (770 ILCS 23/1 et seq.) for services rendered to the plaintiff, minor child Akeem Manago, by Stroger Cook County Hospital.

On appeal, the county argued that the Circuit Court judge’s decision was wrong in extinguishing the lien, arguing (1) it was not required to intervene in plaintiff’s personal injury action against defendants Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and H.J. Russell & Company, (2) a hospital lien may be enforced against a minor, and (3) the hospital lien may attach to a judgment but does not include an award of damages for medical expenses. The appeals panel’s decision relied in part on the fact that Akeem’s parent, April Pritchett, did not assign her cause of action for medical expenses to the injured minor plaintiff and thus the county does not have a lien under the act.

The underlying case arose out of injuries that Akeem sustained on Aug. 5, 2005 while he was a minor. The hospital (Stroger Cook County Hospital) provided care and treatment to Akeem for these injuries on various dates from August 2005 through September 2010. The hospital filed a notice of lien against the plaintiff for unpaid hospital bills on Aug. 10, 2009. The notice of lien was forwarded to the attorney for the plaintiff by certified mail. The enforceability of the lien against a judgment entered by the Circuit Court in the plaintiff’s underlying personal injury lawsuit is the subject of the appeal.

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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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In July 2009, Clarence Walker was trying to gain access to a broken elevator at 365 W. Oak St., Chicago, Ill., from the third floor of what was then Cabrini-Green in the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) building. The apartment building has since been torn down. At the time of the incident, the building was managed by It’s Time for a Change RMC. The company was a non-profit management firm run by building residents.

A witness testified that when Walker opened the third-floor elevator-shaft doors, he stepped forward and disappeared down the shaft. His body was found in the pit at the shaft’s bottom.

Celeste Walker, daughter of Clarence Walker, filed the wrongful-death lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County. She alleged in the lawsuit that CHA and the RMC management company chose not to service and maintain the elevator and chose not to warn residents about the elevator’s hazardous condition.

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A recent appellate court decision involving claims of violations by Chicago police officers has received a lot of media attention because of the severe nature of the resulting injuries suffered by the plaintiff. While the Chicago Police Department claimed that its officers had qualified immunity and could not be held responsible for the harm done to Christina Eilman, the Illinois Appellate Court disagreed. Paine v. Cason, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 8450 (7th Cir. Ill. Apr. 26, 2012).

Paine was brought by the mother of 21 year-old Christina Eilman against the City of Chicago and its police officers regarding the May 2006 arrest of Ellman. Officers were called to respond to a disturbance caused by Ellman as she attempted to board a plane at Chicago’s Midway Airport. Ellman was suffering from mental illness, but had not been taking her medications; as a result she was exhibiting disruptive behavior and needed to be escorted from the airport.

Police initially took Ellman to the 8th District Station, located on 63rd St., but then transferred her to the 2nd District Station, a woman-specific holding facility located on South Wentworth Ave. While at the 2nd District, Ellman was both maniac and calm, exhibiting behaviors typical of her diagnosed bipolar disorder. Despite her obvious mental illness, she was not given any medical treatment or a psychiatric evaluation. Instead, she was released two days after her initial arrest, still in an unstable mental condition.

The accusations in the complaint focus both on the lack of medical care offered while Ellman was in custody and on the manner of her release. Instead of returning Ellman to Midway Airport, or a similarly safe area, she was released directly from the 2nd District Station, which is located near the Robert Taylor Homes, a Chicago public housing project with an extremely high crime rate. In addition, Ellman was released without her cell phone, was scantily clad in short shorts and a bare midriff shirt, and was not in a mental condition that allowed her to appreciate the danger of her situation. Consequently, Ellman wandered into a vacant apartment with several young men, where she was raped at knife point. She then either jumped or was pushed out of a 7-story window, resulting in severe brain damage and other injuries.

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The Illinois Appellate Court ruled on a premise liability claim involving a building owner’s duty to maintain clear sidewalks and driveways. At issue was whether or not the plaintiff’s amended complaint raised new issues of fact in Kristopher McCarthy v. R&M Holdings & Quality, No. 1-10-2778 (February 2, 2012). While the trial court held that it did not, the appellate court found that it did and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.

McCarthy was brought after the plaintiff slipped and fell on the way to his parked car. McCarthy had just finished his shift at the Harwood Heights Cosco on an icy December day. His car was parked in the parking lot next to Cosco’s parking lot. According to McCarthy, he was walking through the snow and did not realize that there was a layer of ice underneath; he fell and dislocated his right shoulder and right knee.

McCarthy brought his premise liability lawsuit against R&M Holdings & Quality, the owner of the commercial building and property. In his complaint he alleged that the icy patch he fell on was part of the run-off from the building’s roof and gutters. There was a downspout that ran directly into the parking lot; McCarthy alleged that this downspout was the source of the water that formed the ice that he fell on and therefore was caused by the building owners and not a natural hazard.

In his first complaint, McCarthy cited ordinary negligence and per se negligence under the Harwood Heights Municipal Code, §15.24.100. While ordinary negligence requires a party to prove that someone acted in an unreasonable or wanton manner, per se negligence simply requires a party to show that an entity violated an established law or code. In response, the defendant property owner filed a motion for summary judgement on the basis that the case could be decided without a trial. The judge dismissed the plaintiff’s original claims, but allowed the plaintiff to file an amended complaint.

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A recent Illinois personal injury lawsuit evaluated the degree of duty a railroad owes to protect trespassers from becoming injured on its property. Dominic Choate v. Indiana Harbor Belt RR Co., et al., No. 1-10-0209 (June 2011), was filed after a 12 year-old boy required a leg amputation after falling from a moving freight train. A Cook County jury found the railroad negligence and awarded the boy $6.5 million for his injuries; an Illinois appellate court then affirmed the verdict after reviewing the case facts.

In July 2003, Dominic Choate was heading home from a friend’s house when he decided to take a shortcut that required him to cross some train tracks. As he approached the train tracks, a freight train was driving by at about 9 to 10 mph. Choate decided to climb a ladder on the side of one of the passing freight cars, but fell from the moving train. The train then ran over his left foot, causing a below the knee amputation as a result of the train accident.

Choate filed a lawsuit against Indiana Harbor Belt RR Co. (IHB), the railroad company that owned the right-of-way where Choate had attempted to board the train. The complaint alleged that IHB was aware that children were regularly crossing the train tracks at that location and failed to take steps to defer children from trespassing and crossing at that location. The plaintiff was critical of the railroad’s failure to warn children of the tracks’ danger and that it did not fence in its property or otherwise prevent children from trespassing.

The defense responded by stating that it did not have a duty to prevent Choate from trespassing and that he was old enough to be aware of the dangers of train tracks. While the jury did find Choate partly responsible for his own injury, it still found that 60% of the fault lay with IHB. It entered a $6.5 million verdict against the railroad company, which was then reduced to $3.9 million after allowing for Choate’s contributory negligence.

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When people think of work injury lawsuits, typically they think of accidents occurring as a result of working with dangerous machinery, or difficult work conditions. However, many work place accidents arise out of fairly mundane circumstances. Take for instance the case of Christina Viernun v. Universal Maintenance LLC; 07L-12068. The plaintiff, Christina Viernun, injured herself at work after falling on a wet floor and sued a carpet cleaner company to recovery damages arising out of the work place injury.

Viernun works at Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center and Health Center, an Illinois medical facility that offers health and social services to family members of all ages. In June 2007, Viernun was walking across a wet carpet onto a tile floor when she slipped and fell on the dry tile floor. The thirty-four year old Viernun sustained a fractured kneecap as a result of the surgery and had to undergo a long and complicated recovery process.

Viernun attributed her fall to the fact that her shoes became wet after walking across the wet carpet, which then caused her to slip and fall on the dry tile floor. She filed an Illinois personal injury lawsuit against Universal Maintenance, the company she alleged had cleaned Aunt Martha’s carpets on the date of her fall. In the complaint, Viernun cited Universal Maintenance’s negligence for failing to place fans to dry the carpets, or lay down butcher paper to absorb the carpet’s water. If it had done so, Viernun contended that her fall might have been prevented because the carpet would not have been as wet.

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Most people would consider feeling safe in one’s home or apartment to be a high priority. If that safety is violated, whether through an attack or inadequate security, most people would look to the building owner or manufacturer for a failure to maintain a safe living environment. However, in Robert Sanchez v. Wilmette Real Estate and Management Co., et al., No. 1-08-0248, the Illinois court ruled that the building owner and manufacturer did not owe the plaintiff a duty to protect him from being attacked on its premises.

At the time of the attack Sanchez was living at an apartment complex owned by BHC5900 and managed by Wilmette Real Estate and Management Company. The plaintiff was walking towards his apartment when he was attacked by an unknown assailant who had been hiding in a vacant apartment within the complex.

Sanchez accused the defendants of leaving vacant units unlocked, a practice that made it easy for his assailant to hide undetected prior to the attack. However, the defendants denied this practice and further denied any breached duty towards the plaintiff. A trial court agreed with the defendants and granted their motion for summary judgment, dismissing them from the Illinois inadequate security lawsuit.

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Old Navy is being sued under claims of inadequate security at its Chicago State Street store in Lowe, et al. v. Old Navy, LLC, No. 10 L 7624. The issue of the Chicago premise liability lawsuit involves a murder-suicide that occurred in an employee-restricted area of the Chicago location.

On May 7, 2010, Tranesha Palms was shot and killed by Eugene Robertson, the father of her two year-old son. Reports indicate that the shooting may have been in response to a dispute between the two parents and the fact that Palms had moved out of their home shortly before the Chicago shooting. The Illinois inadequate security lawsuit was brought on behalf of their surviving son.

The estate alleges that Palms’s death could have been prevented if better security had been provided by the Chicago Old Navy store. The morning of her death Palms entered the store by way of a restricted employee entrance. However, she required another employee to buzz her in, at which point Robertson entered with her. Once inside the restricted area of the store Robertson shot and killed Palms before then killing himself.

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An Illinois McDonald’s employee brought an Illinois premise liability lawsuit against the store franchise and McDonald’s Corporation after she was attacked on the restaurant’s premises. Her lawsuit, Lawson v. Schmitt Boulder Hill, Inc. and McDonald’s Corporation, No. 2-09-0026, explores the issue of what degree of duty a corporation owes to its franchisee’s employees.

In this case, Lawson, part-time McDonald’s employee, was attacked as she was parking her car to the side of the restaurant’s parking lot. In her complaint, Lawson alleged that before she could enter the restaurant that she was robbed, abducted, and assaulted. Lawson claimed that this attack and following injuries were the cause of the defendants’, McDonald’s Corporation and its franchise, negligence and the inadequate security provided.

The plaintiff alleged that McDonald’s Corporation was liable for her injuries because it published standards for its franchises to maintain regarding parking lot lighting as well as other policies and procedures to ensure the security of employees and patrons. Furthermore, it was alleged that it is McDonald’s policy to monitor and enforce its standards, which it does by regularly sending McDonald’s security personnel to its restaurants to confirm franchises’ compliance with the company’s rules and regulations. Plaintiff used this information to show that McDonald’s Corporation, and not just the individual franchise, had a duty to ensure her security while on McDonald’s premises and the failure to do so was the basis for her Illinois premise liability claim.

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