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A Rock-Solid Contract Comes in Handy on an Icy Night

Hughes v. Southwest Airlines Company, 961 F.3d 986 (7th Cir. 2020)

March 2021

By: Jeffrey F. Clement

When counseling our clients on proper drafting of contracts, our attorneys emphasize the need to foresee potential disputes with customers or vendors and prepare appropriate contract language to mitigate against future exposure. One way this is done is through liability limitation clauses. Another way, as exemplified in the recent decision of Hughes v. Southwest Airlines Company, 961 F.3d 926 (2020), is to contractually specify the remedy and/or course of action to be taken in the event one party is unable to perform the contract. 

The Hughes decision shows how this can be done effectively. Plaintiff, Brian Hughes, purchased a Southwest Airlines (“Southwest”) ticket for transportation from Phoenix to Chicago on February 11, 2018. Southwest had to cancel the flight and informed Mr. Hughes it might be several days before it could be rescheduled. Mr. Hughes asserted the real reason the flight was cancelled was because Southwest “ran out of de-icing fluid in Chicago, leading the airline to cancel hundreds of flights out of and into Midway Airport.” 

Illinois Legislature Passes Bill Allowing 9% Pre-Judgment Interest for Personal Injury Lawsuits

January 2021

By: Jeffrey F. Clement

On January 13, 2021, the Illinois Legislature passed HB 3360. The Bill subjects personal injury actions in Illinois to 9% per annum pre-judgment interest accruing “on the date the defendant has notice of the injury from the incident itself or a written notice.” As to personal injuries/wrongful deaths occurring before the effective date, the interest runs from the effective date of the Act or the date the alleged tortfeasor has notice of the injury, whichever is later. The Bill was clearly designed to benefit the plaintiff’s trial bar who have complained that Covid-19 has resulted in defendants/insurers delaying on resolving or paying out personal injury actions. 

Having passed the Illinois Legislature, the Bill heads to Governor Pritzker for signature and/or veto.

Application of the Affirmative Defense of Comparative Negligence in Non-Traditional Scenarios

April 2020

By: Dylan R. Besser

  1. Introduction
  2. Two recent Federal courts interpreted Illinois law regarding the affirmative defense of comparative negligence in unique scenarios outside the typical personal injury lawsuit. The first case involved medical malpractice. Clanton v. United States, 18-3060 (7th Cir. 2019) (“Clanton”). The second case alleged breach of fiduciary duty.  Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. v. Chicago Title Insurance Co., No. 12-CV-05198 (Dec. 3, 2019), (“FDIC”), While the defendants in both cases argued that the plaintiff’s own comparative negligence should act as a defense to the plaintiff’s claims, the courts came to different conclusions.

Illinois Supreme Court Holds Primary Jurisdiction No Longer Grants Circuit Courts Authority to Stay Pending Workers’ Compensation Claims

April 2020

The Illinois Supreme Court recently addressed the interplay between circuit courts and the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission in the context of an insurance coverage dispute.  In West Bend Mutual Insurance Company v. TRRS Corporation, et al., 2019 IL 124690, West Bend filed a declaratory judgment action in circuit court seeking a determination that it owed the petitioner’s employer no coverage for an underlying workers’ compensation claim.  West Bend argued the employer failed to give timely notice of the workers’ compensation claim in violation of the policy’s notice requirements.

Which Workers’ Compensation Policy Applies  When Two Entities Merge?

April 2020

By: Jeffrey F. Clement

In Ill. Ins. Guar. Fund v. Priority Transp., 2019 IL App (1st) 181454, the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, was asked to determine a workers’ compensation insurance coverage issue in the instance where two corporate entities entered into a legal merger.  The issue came to a head because the workers’ compensation carrier for the original corporation because insolvent.  Therefore, the question became whether benefits should be provided under the Illinois Insurance Guarantee Fund (Fund) or by the workers’ compensation carrier of the surviving entity in the merger.   

Legal Recreational Use of Marijuana Is Coming What Employers Should Know

July 2019

The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (the "Act"), signed by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker on June 25, 2019, becomes effective on January 1, 2020. The Act legalizes the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 years or older. What does this mean for employers in Illinois? In short, perhaps not all that much. The Act includes important protections for employers which are summarized below.

Zero Tolerance/Drug Free Workplace Policies

The Act does not prohibit an employer from adopting zero tolerance or drug free workplace policies, including employment policies concerning drug testing. Accordingly, Illinois employers with existing zero tolerance, drug free work place and drug testing policies may continue to enforce these policies when recreational use of marijuana becomes effective on January 1, 2020, as long as these policies are applied in a non-discriminatory manner.

  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Workers' Compensation Lawyers Association
  • IRTB
  • DRI - The Voice of the Defense Bar
  • The Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
  • Illinois Self-Insurers' Association
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Workers' Compensation Lawyers Association
  • IRTB
  • DRI - The Voice of the Defense Bar
  • The Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
  • Illinois Self-Insurers' Association
10 South LaSalle Street, Suite 900
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: 312-425-3131
211 Landmark Drive, Suite C2
Normal, IL 61761
Phone: 309-862-4914
One Metropolitan Square
211 North Broadway, Suite 2200
St. Louis, MO 63102
Phone: 314-300-0527
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