In 2005, a van containing six family members slipped off the edge of an Illinois roadway. In the rollover crash, everyone was hurt and one passenger died. The crash occurred in a construction zone. A guardrail had been removed and was not replaced. All lines had not been repainted on the repaved road, and pieces of asphalt laid on the shoulder.

In the lawsuit against the construction companies, the defendant attorneys told the plaintiffs that the two companies were operating as a joint venture with a $1 million liability insurance policy. The parties settled for $1 million. The plaintiffs signed a release of all claims, which stated that plaintiffs agreed that they were not relying on any statements by any parties’ attorneys. Four years later, the plaintiffs discovered that the companies in fact carried separate liability policies.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled as a matter of law that the failure to identify the individual policies violated Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26. The undisclosed policies would have covered plaintiffs’ claim, and no joint venture agreement existed under Illinois law; therefore, joint venture exclusions and the individual policies were inapplicable.

Continue reading

On June 14, 1988, Thomas John Heck Jr. executed a note in favor of Paul D. Heck.  The note promised to pay $51,000 at 7% interest, compounded annually, with this instruction: “Borrower shall make a single payment on demand within 90 days of demand letter. If payment is not demanded or paid by Borrower, this note will renew automatically in full force of the terms until said note is paid.”

Thomas John Heck Jr. died on Nov. 7, 2016 without Paul Heck ever demanding payment on the note. Paul Heck demanded payment from the Estate of Thomas John Heck Jr. (Estate) on Dec. 8, 2017.

Paul Heck filed suit on Jan. 3, 2018 seeking $362,886.62, plus interest, attorney fees and costs.

Continue reading

While driving a Schnitzer Steel Industries tractor-trailer on an interstate highway, Kenneth Cathey crossed the center line and collided head-on with an SUV driven by Carrie Jones. There were five occupants of the Jones’ SUV, which included Jones, her two minor children, her mother, Judy Madere, and Madere’s twin sister who died in the crash.

Madere’s husband, individually, and on behalf of her estate, sued Schnitzer Southeast LLC, Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc. and Kenneth Cathey.

The plaintiffs claimed that Cathey was driving while fatigued and had slept only 4-5 hours the night before the crash.

Continue reading

John Pesci, 60, was driving his motorcycle through an intersection when he was struck by a vehicle driven by Jacklynn Barke. She had run a red light. It was a T-bone collision. He suffered a fractured right leg, as well as a fractured skull, jaw, and nose. He underwent 13 surgeries before he was able to walk again and required a wheelchair for two years after this incident.

Pesci sued Patrick Mahoney, who owned the vehicle that Barke was driving. Pesci alleged that Mahoney negligently allowed Barke to use his vehicle while she was under the influence of drugs. Pesci also claimed that Mahoney was vicariously liable for Barke running the red light, maintaining proper control of her vehicle, and choosing not to yield the right-of-way. Pesci did not claim lost income or medical expenses.

The jury signed a verdict for $8.9 million.

Continue reading

Mary Mitchell, 62, was riding her bicycle in a crosswalk at an intersection.  Steven Anderson pulled out of a supermarket parking lot, drove through the intersection, and hit Mitchell, causing her to suffer a fractured right hip and wrist.

Mitchell had surgery on her wrist and hip and later required physical therapy.

Several years after this incident, Mitchell was diagnosed as having bursitis in her right hip resulting from the impingement of a surgical screw onto a bursa.  Mitchell’s injuries limit her physical activities. She is limited in her ability to walk, garden and play the piano.

Continue reading

William Keck III, 48, was playing in a paddle tennis tournament at the Bel-Air Bay Club on a hot and humid day. He entered the club’s locker room, which was not air conditioned, and told an attendant that he had cramps in his leg. The attendant began to massage Keck on a locker room bench and later on the floor. However, Keck’s cramps continued and spread to his other leg and to an arm.

This cramps persisted for several hours. Keck began to turn red despite drinking ice water. The locker room attendants called the club’s athletic director, a manager, and the head of security to check on Keck.

More than four hours after Keck entered the locker room, the athletic director of the club called 911 when Keck began to suffer breathing difficulties and turned blue.

Continue reading

Doe, age 26, was driving on a highway when a wheel detached from a truck driven by a trade school student on the opposite side of the road. The detached wheel crashed through Doe’s windshield killing him. Doe was survived by his parents.

Doe’s parents sued the trade school and the truck driver, alleging that the driver and her classmate had improperly secured this wheel to the truck. The truck belonged to the driver but was used at the trade school four days before the incident. It was also claimed that the students’ work had been unsupervised and was not inspected.

The Doe family claimed that the torque wrench used to do the work had been improperly calibrated and that the wheel had been under-torqued before its separation.

Continue reading

The Illinois Appellate Court for the 1st District affirmed the decision of a Cook County judge who granted summary judgment. The ruling came in favor of John Gearhart on the declaratory judgment that trust assets were to be distributed by David Gearhart, one of the grantor’s (Lloyd E. Gearhart) sons. Lloyd Gearhart died on Jan. 9, 2012, one week after making the final trust amendments leaving David Gearhart as trustee.

John Gearhart, another son, filed suit against David on Nov. 2, 2015 seeking declaratory judgment that the trust’s principal was to be distributed per stirpes among his children. He also sought an order restoring assets, alleging that David made distributions to the other two children but then insisted that John was only an income beneficiary of the trust and distributed the remaining trust assets to himself.

At trial seeking the order restoring assets, John argued that David had distributed assets to the other two children as though the trust’s assets would be distributed four ways and then denied John his portion of the assets, effectively claiming 50% of the trust’s assets for himself.

Continue reading

Dominic Consolazio suffered from a seizure disorder that was unresponsive to medicine at times. He was employed by Southern California Gas Co. in a position that required him to drive a company truck.

One morning, he was driving on a Los Angeles County street en route to a job site when he suffered a seizure. He lost consciousness and rear-ended a motorcyclist, Jason Lo, 32, who was stopped at a red light. Lo’s motorcycle became lodged under Consolazio’s truck, which continued traveling another 436 feet. Consolazio attempted to leave the scene.

Lo suffered massive blood loss, a degloving injury to his right leg, and a torn femoral artery.
Continue reading

Machaela Matthews-Bell was driving on an interstate highway when a van in front of her stopped to avoid hitting an animal on the roadway. Matthews-Bell brought her vehicle to a controlled stop. Jagdip Bhullar, who was driving a tractor-trailer owned by Jawala Mukhi Transport Inc., rear-ended Matthews-Bell’s vehicle, causing her to collide with a van.

Matthews-Bell sustained injuries to her head, neck and back. She has undergone extensive medical care, including neck surgery, and anticipates future surgery on her cervical spine. Her medical expenses alone were more than $100,000.

Matthews-Bell sued Jawala Mukhi Transport and Bhullar, alleging liability for Bhullar’s choosing not to keep a proper lookout and failing to maintain control of his tractor-trailer.

Continue reading