Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

On May 24, 2011, Michael Racky was bicycling across 95th Street at LaCrosse Avenue in Oak Lawn, Ill. He jumped his bike over a 12-inch curb at the southwest corner to reach the sidewalk. There, the bike slowed and wobbled due to the loss of momentum.

Racky was 52 years old at the time. He continued riding south parallel to a commercial building, Karnezis Properties Plaza, when he extended his left arm and his right hand lightly touched a large, plate-glass storefront window while he attempted to retain his balance on his bike.

As he touched the window, it collapsed. He fell inside the storefront with his legs draped over the broken glass. His left leg was cut to the bone. An eyewitness to the incident, an off-duty Chicago Fire Department paramedic, tried without success to apply a tourniquet to Racky’s leg.

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The Illinois Appellate Court has found no abuse of discretion where the factors were not delineated in an order when a Cook County judge dismissed a case because of forum non conveniens.

In this case, on Oct. 24, 2013, in Belvidere, Ill., there was a crash involving a car driven by Kenneth Kazort and a garbage truck driven by an operator from Advanced Disposal Services Solid Waste LLC. The garbage truck driver was John Padgett. Padgett was alleged to have backed into a driveway in order to turn around and move on to the next resident. When the garbage truck pulled out, Kazort, who was out of view, was blocked by “numerous large trees, a recreational vehicle, vegetation and other foliage.”

As the garbage truck pulled out into the street, Kazort’s car and the truck crashed into each other, killing Kazort. Malinda Ruch was appointed administrator of the Kazort estate and filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County claiming negligence on the part of Padgett and on his employer Advanced Disposal.

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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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Illinois Tool Works purchased commercial liability policies many years ago from Travelers Casualty Surety Co. and Century Indemnity Co. They were purchased by Illinois Tool Works for the years 1971 through 1987.The policies were designed to have the insurance companies defend Illinois Tool Works against toxic-tort injury complaints that did not allege dates or exposure or injury.

The insurance companies reportedly declined to defend Illinois Tool in thousands of toxic-tort cases in which the plaintiffs alleged that their injuries were caused by exposure to hazardous substances, which included asbestos, benzene and manganese in welding supplies and other products distributed by other companies Illinois Tool started buying in 1993. According to the facts in the case, Illinois Tool did not enter the welding product market until 1993, while the last insurance policy that was issued expired in 1987.

A Cook County judge granted Illinois Tool’s request for summary judgment. On appeal, the tort complaints were characterized this way: Continue reading

√On Nov. 4, 2008, Ulrika Bjorkstam and Joseph Daniel Dray were injured in a plane crash in Mexico City.

On Nov. 3, 2009, the two injured parties filed a lawsuit against MPC Products Corp and Woodward Inc., which manufactured the horizontal stabilizer actuator that the plaintiffs alleged was faulty in the plane in which they were traveling.

MPC and Woodward’s principal place of business was in Illinois. However, the companies moved for a dismissal on the grounds of forum non conveniens, arguing that Harris County, Texas, was the more appropriate forum for this case. Forum non conveniens is Latin term used in the law that pertains to the place that is considered most convenient for the parties, discovery of the facts of the case and the eventual trial. In Illinois, the legal concept of forum non conveniens is discretionary with the judge presiding. The factors of the place of the controversy, the witnesses’ location, the residence of the defendant, the location of the place where a contract was made and other similar issues are weighed by the court if the venue of the case is challenged.

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Thirteen-week-old Kevin Hernandez underwent colon surgery.  After surgery, Kevin experienced chronic diarrhea and vomiting.  He was taken to a hospital emergency department where he was diagnosed with dehydration.  Kevin was treated over the next 23 hours by the administration of fluids.  He was shortly thereafter discharged from the hospital.

Sadly, two days later, Kevin died of dehydration.  He was survived by his parents and an older sibling.

Kevin’s mother, individually and on behalf of Kevin’s estate, sued the family physician, Reynaldo Caluag, M.D., who treated Kevin during his hospital stay.  Dr. Caluag’s employer was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.  The complaint brought against the doctor and his employer alleged that Dr. Caluag chose not to properly treat Kevin for dehydration and instead discharged him prematurely without giving adequate home care instructions to his parents.

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Two 13-year-old boys who were participating in an overseas trip were killed when the bus they were riding in overturned. The trip was organized by the North Carolina Youth Soccer Association.  The boys were on a bus on a wet highway northeast of Paris, France.  When the bus overturned, the two boys died as a result. 

Julian Brown, one of the boys, was survived by his parents and one sibling. Matthew Helms was survived by his parents and two siblings.

The Brown family and Helms’s mother sued the North Carolina Youth Soccer Association alleging in its lawsuit that the association was negligent in selecting the bus company without knowing about its safety record. The families also claimed that the association was negligent for choosing a company that provided an inexperienced driver and that the bus used to transport the boys was not equipped with seatbelts. 

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The estate of the decedent, Kamonie Slade, and his parents, brought a lawsuit against the administrators of the public school he was attending at the time of his death from drowning in a class outing. The case was brought under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court judge granted summary judgment for the defendants, the Board of School Directors, which also relinquished jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s supplemental state court tort claim and dismissed the lawsuit.

The appeal brought to the Seventh Circuit in Chicago challenged the dismissal of the federal case. In addition to the board of school directors, the plaintiffs named the principal and assistant principal of the school. The court pointed out that the Wisconsin law caps the tort liability of a public employee at $50,000 per victim. That would make the maximum recovery under state law for wrongful death and loss of consortium $150,000, which the court of appeals pointed out was meager under the circumstances.

This case arises out of a planned field trip to a lake for graduating 7th graders on the last day of their school year. The public school district forbids recreational swimming on field trips unless a lifeguard is present. There was no lifeguard present when Kamonie drowned. There were 92 children participating in the outing.

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In 2003, a three-story porch in Chicago’s Lincoln Park collapsed during a party. Thirteen people were killed and another 29 were injured. Insurance coverage was an issue taken up in a declaratory judgment action in the chancery division of Cook County’s Circuit Court. It was determined that the collapse of the porch constituted a single occurrence under First Specialty Insurance Corp.’s insurance coverage.The circuit court’s decision was that there was $1 million of coverage for the occurrence, not $2 million in the aggregate.

The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the lower court’s decision after examining the policy language. It was concluded that there was nothing in the insurance policy that would support the plaintiffs’ argument that the porch collapse was a multiple occurrence.

Forty-two people, including the families of the deceased victims and 29 others who suffered injuries in the collapse, filed a lawsuit against First Specialty in 2010. They argued that First Specialty should pay the aggregate amount $2 million rather than $1 million.

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Four teenagers went out to dinner and later had a party in the basement home of the Gordons, the parent home of one of the teenagers. The incident took place in July 2006. Two of the individuals, Hoyle and Peabody, arrived and talked with the Gordon mother, Rachelle. Hoyle smoked one cigarette and believed that the younger Gordon and Peabody each smoked one cigarette too.

Hoyle remembered putting out her own cigarette when finished, and she and her friend Gordon left after midnight. Peabody and Blake left separately.

Keyth Security Systems and Security Associates International, Inc., were responsible for the Gordon’s home fire detection system. That fire detection system failed to detect a fire that started in the basement that night. The fire resulted in the deaths by carbon monoxide poisoning of the Gordon family.

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