Articles Posted in Premises Accidents

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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Skylar Dimick was injured when he fell into a septic tank on the property owned by the defendant Scott Hopkinson. Dimick and his wife filed a negligence lawsuit against Hopkinson and his businesses, family trust and his wife, Chris Hopkinson.

In addition to the negligence count, the Dimick lawsuit also sought punitive damages for the defendants’ alleged willful and wanton misconduct.

The district court in this case granted summary judgment to all of the defendants concluding that: (1) Hopkinson and his businesses were protected by a valid release of liability that was signed by Dimick; (2) Hopkinson committed no willful and wanton act; (3) Chris Hopkinson (Scott’s wife) was neither a proximate cause of Dimick’s injuries nor was she engaged in a joint venture with Scott; and (4) the family trust of the Hopkinson did not exist.

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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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In 2012, Justin Dominguez, 15, was playing with friends in a neighbor’s yard. The neighbor’s house was located next to a vacant spot that contained bamboo stalks under a 13,000-volt, uninsulated power line.

Justin climbed up the bamboo stalks, which contacted the power line. He received a severe electric shock and was hospitalized. He unfortunately remained in a coma until he died approximately two weeks later. He was survived by his mother.

Justin’s mother, on behalf of his estate, sued Florida Power & Light Co., alleging it negligently chose not to remove the bamboo despite a 2008 work order and written report to the defendants’ lead arborist identifying the location as a critical removal site. The Dominguez family asserted that Florida Power & Light had a duty to clear its line of vegetation, especially bamboo, which is highly conductive and fast-growing.

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Steven Frosch was working for the New York City Department of Sanitation operating a street sweeper. He was at the city department garage greasing the brushes on one of the street sweepers when his coworker, Antonio DiCaro, stopped another street sweeper next to him. As DiCaro was waiting, he reached down to unplug his Bluetooth radio. DiCaro’s vehicle then lurched forward, crushing Frosch between the two sweepers.

Frosch suffered multiple internal crush injuries, including a severed spinal cord, ruptured diaphragm and spleen and kidney damage. Tragically, he was pronounced dead at the scene within just ten minutes. He was 43 years old. Frosch was survived by his wife and four minor children.

Colombina Frosch, his wife, individually and on behalf of her husband’s estate, sued DiCaro and the City of New York alleging that DiCaro was negligent in choosing not to put his vehicle in park before reaching for his Bluetooth radio.

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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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A Cook County jury’s not-guilty verdict for Tinley Park Roller Rink, a south suburban roller rink, will stand after the Illinois Appellate Court reversed a trial court’s order of a new trial. The appeals panel stated that there was nothing wrong with the jury instructions allowed by the trial judge that were used by the jury to reach its verdict.

In March 2016, the trial judge ordered a new trial for the plaintiff Marie Largen who filed a lawsuit alleging negligence against the Tinley Park Roller Rink citing a potentially confusing Illinois Civil Jury Pattern Instruction (IPI) 60.01 that quoted the entire Roller Skating Rink Safety Act and may have thrown jurors off during their deliberations.

The Illinois Appellate Court reversed the trial judge’s order for a new trial on plaintiff’s post-trial motion in a unanimous decision. The appeals panel rejected Largen’s counsel’s argument that including the statute’s assumed-risk language asked the jurors to answer a purely legal question when reaching its decision.

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Cedric Smith sued the United States government under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. Section 2671 et seq., claiming injuries from a fall off of a broken metal stool in a secured attorney-client interview room at the U.S. District Court in Rock Island, Ill.

Smith’s lawsuit relied on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur (“the thing speaks for itself”), claiming that when he sat on the stool, it tilted backward, causing him to fall, hit his head and suffer permanent injuries.

The district court judge granted summary judgment for the federal government finding that the Smith evidence was insufficient to create an inference of negligence because others could have broken the stool or Smith could just have fallen from an undamaged stool in the absence of negligence on the part of anyone.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago reversed the granting of the summary judgment motion in an opinion written by Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner, holding that Smith’s evidence was sufficient to create a jury question as to whether the government was negligent.

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In 1993, the Luther Village Owners Corp. contacted Ken Bruce to see if he was interested in running a salon in their neighborhood. Bruce took ownership of the salon in 1994 and in 1996 formed Creative Designers, a corporation, which would run the salon. Bruce was president and operator of the salon.

Creative Designers employed all of the hairstylists who worked at the salon as independent contractors on one-year contracts. One of the stylists was the plaintiff, Ghada Hanna, who was hired in 2008.

The salon where Hanna worked was renovated by Luther Village in 2008. A series of “flip-top countertops” were installed, which could be tilted and locked into an upright position to allow increased reach and then be lowered again for counter space. Maintenance and modifications to the salon fixtures, including the countertops, was carried out by Luther Village.

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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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