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The Contribution Act Allows Contribution between Two Principals Vicariously Liable for the Negligence of a Common Agent

March 2019

By: Courtney Morso Driscoll

The Illinois Supreme Court recently held one principal could seek contribution from another principal, both of whom were held vicariously liable due to the acts of the same agent. In Sperl v. Henry, 2018 IL 123132 (IL), C.H. Robinson Company (“CHR”) and Toad L. Dragonfly Express, Inc. (“Dragonfly”) were both found vicariously liable due to the acts of DeAn Henry. CHR was a logistics company that contracted with licensed carriers to transport goods to its customers, one of which was Jewel Food Stores (“Jewel”). Henry leased a semi-tractor to Dragonfly, a federally licensed motor carrier. Through Dragonfly, Henry agreed to deliver goods for CHR to Jewel.

In the course of her delivery, Henry ran over multiple vehicles, killing plaintiffs, Joseph Sperl and Thomas Sanders, and seriously injuring plaintiff William Taluc. As a result of this accident, suit was filed against Henry, CHR, and Dragonfly for wrongful death, survival, and personal injuries.

Henry admitted negligence and liability. Dragonfly admitted liability and “united” negligence with Henry. CHR denied liability and filed a contribution action against Henry and Dragonfly. At trial, the jury found CHR was vicariously liable for Henry’s action because Henry was an agent of CHR. The jury awarded the plaintiff’s $23,775,000.00, finding CHR, Dragonfly, and Henry were jointly and severely liable for the damages.

Expert Testimony Not Necessary For Use Of Post-Accident Photographs

March 2019

Peach v. McGovern, 2019 IL 123156 (January 2019)

In this case, the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois finally put to rest whether or not expert testimony is required when using photographs of vehicle damage to argue no connection between an accident and claimed injuries. Plaintiff, Kevin Peach, was stopped at a stop sign in his Nissan pickup truck when he was rear-ended by defendant McGovern’s vehicle. Defendant testified she spaced out and let her foot slip off the brake; her car rolled forward and tapped his truck. She testified she never pressed the gas pedal once she had stopped.

Post-accident photographs showed that plaintiff’s back bumper was dented and the defendant’s front end was cracked, however, it was never determined if the accident caused the crack. Both parties testified photographs were accurate representations of the conditions of their vehicles immediately after the accident.

Employee Barred from Untimely Attempt to Intervene in Employer's Subrogation Suit

March 2019

By: Jeffrey F. Clement

In A&R Janitorial v. Pepper Constr. Co., 2018 IL 123220, the Supreme Court of Illinois was faced with the unique circumstance of an employee attempting to intervene in a subrogation lawsuit brought by her employer after the statute of limitations had expired for the employee to institute her own lawsuit. The Supreme Court of Illinois held that the employee could not intervene in the employer's lawsuit based on the doctrine of res judicata.

In addition to seeking workers' compensation benefits, an employee may file his or her own personal injury action against a third-party tortfeasor in order to recover damages for a work injury. Under Section 5(b) of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act (the "Act"), the employer is entitled to reimbursement of its workers' compensation benefits out of the proceeds of any settlement or judgment obtained by the employee in that third party suit, less the payment of a 25% attorney's fee and pro rata share of costs. 820 ILCS 305/5(b). In addition, the employer has a right to intervene in the employee's action in order to protect its workers' compensation lien in all court orders entered after hearing and judgment. 820 ILCS 305/5(b). In most instances, the employee will timely file a lawsuit against the third-party and the employer will assert its lien rights by intervening in said action.

Illinois Has No Jurisdiction Over Company with 3,000 Employees in Illinois and $1 Billion in Revenue from Illinois Sales: Campbell v. ACME Insulations, Inc., 2018 IL App (1st) 173051

October 2018

By Courtney Morso Driscoll

The First District Appellate Court recently held Illinois did not have jurisdiction over General Electric (GE) although GE earned over $1 billion in revenue from its business in Illinois. In Campbell v. ACME Insulations, Inc., 2018 IL App (1st) 173051, the First District reversed the decision of the circuit court, which found Illinois had personal jurisdiction over GE.

The plaintiff, Arlin Campbell, brought suit against various entities, including GE, alleging he was diagnosed with mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos in Illinois through GE products. GE filed a motion to dismiss, claiming plaintiff did not allege sufficient facts to confer personal jurisdiction over GE in Illinois. The circuit court denied GE’s motion to dismiss, which GE appealed. The appellate court reversed the circuit court with direction that GE be dismissed from the lawsuit. It found Illinois neither had general personal jurisdiction over GE nor specific personal jurisdiction over GE.

Illinois Appellate Court Examines Whether Arbitration Agreement Was Enforceable In Premises Liability Case

October 2018

A recent decision from the First District Appellate Court, Kero v. Palacios, et al., 2018 Ill. App. (1st) 172427, addressed the enforceability of an arbitration agreement in connection with a premises liability case.

In the complaint, plaintiff alleged that he was a patient at defendant, Symphony of Lincoln Park, LLC’s (“Symphony”) rehabilitation facility in July 2016. During his stay at Symphony, plaintiff further alleged that he fell out of his bed on July 19 and July 31, 2016, and sustained injuries. Plaintiff alleged negligence in his complaint against Symphony.

Appellate Court Broadens Need for Expert Testimony

October 2018

In Campbell v. Autenrieb 2018 Il App (5th) 170148 ( July 2018) the appellate court held that a defendant could not cross examine a treating doctor about other possible causes for plaintiff’s injuries unless defense counsel supported the cross examination with expert testimony.

Mr. Campbell was knocked down by defendant’s unleashed dog. He claimed severe spinal cord injuries and over $200,000.00 in lost wages. Plaintiff’s neurosurgeon testified the injuries were caused by the fall. Defense counsel asked the doctor if a person’s back could go out for no specific reason, i.e. idiopathic. Counsel then asked if a plethora of other reasons could also cause a back to go out. The doctor answered yes to both questions. Defense counsel offered no expert testimony to support these two questions.

  • 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
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Phone: 312-425-3131
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