Illinois Supreme Court Holds That Employer Could Be Negligent at the Same Time the Employee Was Not

The Illinois Supreme Court reversed a dismissal by the appellate court and affirmed the circuit court judgment in a personal injury case in which the following issues were considered:

  1. whether an employer who admits liability under the doctrine of respondeat superior may be independently liable for its own negligence, even if the jury finds that the employee was not negligent, and
  2. whether the trial court erred in granting the employer’s request for a new trial after the jury rendered legally inconsistent findings.

The Illinois Supreme Court concluded it is “settled law” that a plaintiff may plead and prove multiple causes of action. The state high court also ruled that it is “settled law,” so long as there is a good-faith factual basis for a plaintiff’s claim of direct negligence against an employer; in that case, the plaintiff is allowed to pursue the claim in addition to a claim of vicarious liability.

The Illinois Supreme Court further found that the trial judge properly conveyed the applicable law when it struck the last sentence of Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions (IPI) Civil No. 50-01.  That last sentence is: “However, if you find that [agent’s name] is not liable, then you must find that [principal’s name] is not liable.”

Finally, the court found that the verdict of the jury was not legally inconsistent because the jury could reasonably have concluded that the employer was negligent at the same time it concluded that the employee was not.

McQueen v. Green, 2022 IL 126666 (April 21, 2022).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling personal injury lawsuits, Illinois jury trials, Illinois appeals, wrongful death lawsuits, and truck accident cases for individuals, families, and loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 45 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Inverness, Bolingbrook, Barrington, Melrose Park, Naperville, Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg, Schiller Park, Chicago (Rogers Park, Albany Park, Uptown, Chatham, Bronzeville, South Shore, West Town, Austin, Belmont Cragin, Hegewisch, Canaryville), Glenview, Gurnee, Lake Zurich, Libertyville, Elmhurst, and Vernon Hills, Ill.

Robert D. Kreisman has been an active member of the Illinois and Missouri bars since 1976.

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