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December 2015


Defense Developments

Lane & Firnstein Secure Favorable Defense Verdict

In November 2015, partners Jamie S. Lane and Margaret Firnstein of SmithAmundsen, LLC secured a favorable defense verdict in Federal Court for the Northern District of Illinois on behalf of a national transportation motor carrier. Plaintiff claimed that as a result of the driver falling asleep at the wheel, as he reported to the investigating officer and triage nurse, and failing to maintain a proper lookout that he struck the rear-end of her vehicle causing her to sustain injuries resulting in fractures to 20 bones, including cervical and lumbar vertebrae, and a closed head injury. As a result, Plaintiff is allegedly permanently disabled and suffers permanent cognitive deficits. As part of claimed specials, Plaintiff presented a life care plan of $5.8 million to $6.8 million. Defense argued that plaintiff was comparatively negligent and was not injured to the extent claimed and the jury agreed. Defense argued that she entered the expressway “under-powered” and without taillights. Six retained experts for the plaintiff testified including experts in human factors, trucking, sleep, accident reconstruction, and neuropsychology. The last demand was $2.5 million and Plaintiff's counsel asked the jury for a verdict between $10.8 million and $11.8 million. The last offer was $750,000 and the verdict was $962,500 including 45% allocation of fault to the plaintiff. Excess carrier, who had coverage above $1.0 million, was willing to offer $1.1 million above the primary $1.0 limit. 

 

Lipe and Kelly Settle Premises Liability Claim For Half The Specials

Circuit Court of Lake County, IL: Jeffrey H. Lipe and Ryan A. Kelly of Lipe Lyons Murphy, Nahrstadt & Pontikis, Ltd. achieved a settlement on behalf of a property owner, property management company and janitorial services company for a large retail establishment in Lake County, Illinois. Plaintiff brought suit after she alleged she slipped and fell in water spilled onto the floor by an employee of the janitorial services company. Plaintiff suffered an injury to her knee, requiring surgery. Plaintiff also made a wage loss claim. The total amount of plaintiff’s medical bills and wage loss claim was $58,415. Plaintiff’s pre-suit demand was $325,000. The case settled for $30,000. 

Noonan - Defense Judgment in Legal Malpractice Action Affirmed on Appeal

Patricia Noonan and Linda Hay of Hay & Oldenburg, LLC successfully defended lawyers sued for appellate malpractice in the Circuit Court of Cook County, the action alleging that a late filing of a Notice of Appeal resulted in Plaintiff’s loss of an underlying claim for tortious interference with lending contracts and resulting damages of lost real property on the Chicago River claimed to be worth over $8 million. The Circuit Court of Cook County granted the defendant lawyers summary judgment on numerous legal bases. Patricia Noonan represented the lawyers/Appellees in the appeal filed by Plaintiffs, and the First District Appellate Court recently issued its published decision affirming the summary judgment ruling on the basis that the underlying claim would not have been successful because it was barred by the statute of limitations.

Oldenburg and Banasek –Dental Malpractice Favorable Verdict

Anne Oldenburg and Tammera Banasek of Hay & Oldenburg, LLC recently tried a dental case in Cook County which alleged the improper placement and loss of dental implants. The pretrial demand was $400,000. Plaintiff requested over $500,000 of the jury. The jury initially indicated they were deadlocked, but shortly thereafter returned a verdict for the Plaintiff, but only awarded her dental expenses and found her 50% contributorily negligent. The total verdict was $35, 436.20.

Spitzzeri Obtains Dismissal of Employment Discrimination Case Against Automotive Parts Retailer

Johnson & Bell, Ltd. Shareholder, Joseph F. Spitzzeri, obtained a dismissal of employment discrimination claims made against his client, an automotive parts retailer. The plaintiff alleged that he was discriminated against based on his age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The plaintiff was employed by Mr. Spitzzeri’s client in a position that did not allow for promotion or advancement with the company in October, 2012. The plaintiff contended that due to his experience, he was qualified for other positions within the company that would provide further advancement. The plaintiff alleged that these positions were filled with younger, unqualified employees. The plaintiff complained about this and subsequently filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in January, 2015.

Mr. Spitzzeri argued that the plaintiff’s complaint EEOC charge and complaint were not timely under the ADEA since the ADEA required the plaintiff file his charge of discrimination with the EEOC within 300 days of the allegedly discriminatory practice. The plaintiff asserts he was discriminated against in October of 2012, but did not file his charge of discrimination with the EEOC until January of 2015. The court granted Mr. Spitzzeri’s motion and dismissed the case without prejudice to alleging a claim of hostile work environment. The district court noted that the 7th Circuit has not yet recognized a claim for hostile work environment under the ADEA.

Stufflebeam & Odom Obtain Dismissal 

Patrick Stufflebeam and Gregory Odom of HeplerBroom LLC recently obtained a dismissal for their client in the case Voss v. Murco Wall Products, Inc., No. 15-L-55, in the Circuit Court of Madison County, Illinois. In the case, the plaintiff alleged that Gary Voss, a former drywaller, was exposed to asbestos and died of mesothelioma.

Gary Voss was an Illinois resident who testified that he used various joint compounds, including Murco joint compound, in the 1960’s and 1970’s in Illinois. Plaintiff alleged that the decedent’s exposure to Murco’s asbestos-containing joint compound contributed to the development of his mesothelioma. Murco, a Texas corporation with its principal place of business in Texas, argued that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over it. Plaintiff alleged that Murco was subject to specific personal jurisdiction. 

Stufflebeam and Odom argued that the plaintiff failed to establish that Murco maintained sufficient minimum contacts with Illinois to satisfy the Due Process requirements necessary to confer jurisdiction. They also argued that the lawsuit did not arise out of any purported contact between Murco and Illinois because if Murco’s asbestos-containing joint compound made its way to Illinois, it was via the act of a third-party, not Murco. Murco’s corporate representative testified that Illinois was outside of Murco’s sales radius during the time frame in which Mr. Voss allegedly used Murco joint compound. The plaintiff could not refute this evidence.

Plaintiff further argued that the court should confer jurisdiction over Murco based upon the Illinois activities of its former franchisee, a Kansas corporation. The court found “evidence of this relationship is insufficient to impute personal jurisdiction over Defendant MURCO.” Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff did not establish that Murco sold, distributed, or manufactured asbestos-containing products in the State of Illinois or otherwise maintained sufficient minimum contact with the State of Illinois such that personal jurisdiction would attach.

Dina L. Torrisi and Thomas H. Ryerson Receive Defense Verdict in Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Case

After 3 weeks of trial and only 45 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in favor of all defendant physicians. The plaintiff argued that the defendants failed to rule out and treat infectious discitis as the cause of her husband’s intractable, post-operative back pain. As a result, the decedent became immobile secondary to pain resulting in a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and ultimately a fatal pulmonary embolus. The plaintiff asked the jury for $6,090,000. Prior to trial, multiple defendants settled for a total amount of $1,075,000.

 

IDC In Action
Amicus

The IDC Amicus Committee has discussed filing amicus briefs in three cases which have just been accepted for appeal by the Illinois Supreme Court: Bayer v. Panduit Corp., Moline School District No. 40 Board of Education v. Quinn, and Hampton v. Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. The committee voted not to file an amicus brief in these cases.

Cook County Fee Increase

IDC Board Member Ed Grasse of Busse, Busse & Grasse P.C. recently offered testimony in opposition to a proposed increase in Cook County court fees.

Constitutionality of P.A. 98-1132 (Six Person Juries)

IDC Board Member Pat Eckler of Pretzel & Stouffer, Chartered reports that a response brief from the plaintiffs was filed on December 10 in Kakos v. Butler (Follow this link to view brief). A hearing is set for December 22 and a final ruling is expected by December 31.

Noteworthy

Aleen R. Tiffany, P.C.; Hodge Dwyer & Drive to Merge with HeplerBroom LLC
2013-2014 IDC President, Aleen Tiffany, is pleased to announce that effective January 1, 2016, she will become a partner at HeplerBroom LLC. Her colleagues, Holly Whitlock-Glave and Jamie M. Rein, will also join HeplerBroom. Ms. Tiffany has extensive construction litigation, contract, and commercial risk transfer experience and will continue to serve her local, regional, and nationally-based clients from her office in Crystal Lake. This addition will create HeplerBroom’s fifth law office.

In addition, the Springfield environmental law firm of Hodge, Dwyer & Driver will merge its practice into HeplerBroom beginning in 2016. That firm is the premier downstate environmental regulatory and litigation firm and the consolidation of these firms will give Hodge, Dwyer & Driver an enhanced ability to serve its clients and give HeplerBroom LLC an opportunity to provide services in a new practice area. More information regarding that merger may be found at www.breatheeasy.heplerbroom.com.

Cook County Jury Verdict Reporter Awards Larry Smith With Lifetime Achievement Award

IDC Past President Larry Smith of SmithAmundsen LLC was recently honored as one of two recipients of 2015’s Cook County Jury Verdict Reporter Trial Lawyer Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is in recognition of Larry’s body of trial work, leadership, mentoring and contributions to the legal community. More than 250 trial attorneys and Illinois judges were in attendance to witness Larry accept this prestigious award.

November 2015


Defense Developments

Joseph B. Carini III Secures Defense Verdict for Architect

In a breach of contract case seeking $1.7 million in damages against an inspecting architect, Johnson & Bell Shareholder, Joseph B. Carini, III, secured a defense verdict in favor of his client. In this case, the plaintiffs, who were first- time developers, were converting a three-flat building into condominiums. The “gut rehab” was nearing completion in 2009 when the contractor left the job, and the project was never finished. Shortly thereafter, the development was foreclosed upon by the bank financing the project. The plaintiffs filed lawsuits against the general contractor and the inspecting architect, among others. The lawsuit against Mr. Carini’s client alleged that the inspecting architect approved payment for work that wasn’t done or was done defectively and that these approved payments led to the failure of the development project. Mr. Carini argued that the inspections were not performed for the plaintiffs’ benefit and that there was no breach of contract. In addition, Mr. Carini argued that the foreclosure was caused solely by plaintiffs’ conduct. After a three-week trial, the plaintiffs’ counsel asked the jury for $1.7 million from Mr. Carini’s client. The jury deliberated for 4 hours before returning a defense verdict.

 

 

Fencl, Stalker Save Client $400K in Insurance Coverage Dispute

Following a 3-day bench trial, Johnson & Bell Shareholder, Glenn F. Fencl, and Attorney, Samuel R. Stalker, obtained judgment in favor of their client in an insurance coverage lawsuit in which the plaintiff sought recovery of $416,000. The coverage dispute arose out of an underlying lawsuit involving a fatal car accident that settled for $2.2 million via mediation. The plaintiff in the coverage case insured the company that allegedly owned the vehicle that caused the car accident. Johnson & Bell’s client had a primary policy for the owner of the company, individually, but only for non-owned auto coverage plus an umbrella policy. Our client contributed to the settlement out of its umbrella policy, but disputed the existence of coverage under the primary policy. The plaintiff in the coverage case sued our client, claiming that its primary policy applied and thus sought recovery of $416,000 expended in settlement of the wrongful death case. Fencl and Stalker argued that their client, who admitted coverage under its umbrella policy, was not responsible under its primary policy due to certain exclusions to coverage; specifically, that its named insured was an owner of the subject vehicle due to the inclusion of his name on the certificate of title. In response, the plaintiff asserted that the intent of the purchase and actual use of the vehicle for business purposes proved sole ownership by its insured, thus triggering non-owned automobile coverage. The Court ultimately ruled in a written decision that the plaintiff did not overcome the presumption of ownership created by the certificate of title and that our client’s primary policy did not apply to the accident.

Gainer, MacMillan, Gutowski Secure Defense Verdict for Chicago Police Office in $15M Wrongful Death Case

In a wrongful death case seeking $15 million in damages against a Chicago police officer, Johnson & Bell Shareholder, Brian P. Gainer, and Associate Attorneys, Anne P. MacMillan and Monica Gutowski, secured a defense verdict in favor of their client. In this case, the plaintiff alleged that a Chicago police officer shot and killed the decedent without legal justification. Moreover, the plaintiff charged that the gun recovered by the police at the scene was “planted” to justify the shooting. After a two-week trial, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury for $15 million. The jury deliberated for eight hours before returning a defense verdict.

Greg Ray and Brittany Meeker Secure Defense Verdict

On August 28, 2015, Greg Ray and Brittany Meeker of Craig & Craig completed a week-long jury trial in Clark County, Illinois, that resulted in a defense verdict in favor of the firm's client, the Executor of the Estate of Clyde Knowles, rejecting the claims of the petitioners that the probated Will of the deceased was not his valid Last Will and Testament. The Will Contest litigation involved competing claims of the petitioners, who are the daughters of the deceased, and who unsuccessfully sought to probate an earlier Will, which substantially favored them, and their brothers, who are relatively favored in the probated and sustained Will. The determining issue was whether the probated Will was signed as a result of undue influence exerted over the deceased by one or both of the brothers.

Summary Judgment Granted for Keefe, Campbell, Biery & Associates’ Client

Northern District of Illinois Judge John Z. Lee granted summary judgment for Keefe, Campbell Biery & Associates’ client, a pharmaceutical company. Bradley J. Smith argued in his motion for summary judgment that the defendant is not subject to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as it is not a state actor subject to liability. Smith further argued that plaintiff failed to bring forth any evidence demonstrating that defendant had a policy or pattern of practice that was deliberately indifferent to the plaintiff’s claimed serious medical needs. Plaintiff is a prisoner at Stateville Correctional Facility located in Crest Hill, Illinois. Plaintiff argued that the defendant was deliberately indifferent to his alleged serious medical needs by failing to timely fill prescription medications for the plaintiff. Plaintiff also argued that defendant was a state actor as it maintained contracts with a private company to fill pharmaceutical products for the Stateville prison population. In turn, the private company contracts with the Illinois Department of Corrections for the purpose of providing medical services to its prison population. Judge Lee granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the defendant from the case. Judge Lee based the summary judgment decision on plaintiff’s lack of evidence supporting a theory that defendant was deliberately indifferent to plaintiff’s alleged serious medical needs. The above matters are still subject to litigation and are subject to appeal. This article is in no way meant to influence the outcome of any potential appeals.

Bradley J. Smith of Keefe, Campbell, Biery & Associates, LLC Successfully Argues Case

After a week and a half of trial and approximately five hours of deliberations, a Cook County Jury found the decedent 50% comparatively at fault for her own death and ultimately awarded only $15,000.00 in pecuniary damages in a case tried by Bradley J. Smith of Keefe, Campbell, Biery & Associates, LLC. The decedent’s estate filed suit against the defendant alleging that its employee/driver was negligent in operating the armored truck at approximately 2:20 a.m. on New Years Day 2013 on East State Street in Rockford, Illinois. The plaintiff sought a range of pecuniary damages up to $3,500,000.00. The decedent made contact with the armored truck within the farthest left lane of the eastbound lanes. The employee/driver and his passenger did not see the decedent prior to the impact with the truck, but were keeping a proper lookout and scanning the roadway for hazards. Smith successfully argued that defendant’s employee/driver was not negligent and further that the decedent’s death was caused by her own lack of due care, including becoming intoxicated and impaired, crossing a dark area of roadway while wearing dark clothing, not keeping a proper lookout, and placing herself on a 6-laned roadway at 2:20 a.m. The above matters are still subject to litigation and are subject to appeal. This article is in no way meant to influence the outcome of any potential appeals.

Tony Tunney and Robert Elworth, HeplerBroom Partners Successfully Defended Plaintiff’s Appeal

Tony Tunney and Robert Elworth of HeplerBroom LLC successfully defended plaintiff’s appeal of the trial court’s order entering a JNOV in their favor. The jury trial in May 2014 resulted in a $467,000 verdict for plaintiff against his insurance agent. Plaintiff claimed that his coverage was denied by American Family because his agent failed to make sure that the information on the application was true and accurate. The trial court entered a JNOV based on a lack of duty owed by the agent. Office Furnishings v A.F. Crissie & Co., 2015 IL App (1st) 141724.

John Watson and Patrick Lee Receive Defense Verdict

John Watson and Patrick Lee, two partners of the Craig & Craig Mattoon office, completed a seven day jury trial in the United States District Court, Central District of Illinois, before Magistrate Judge Tom Schanzle-Haskins. John Watson and Pat Lee were serving as appointed counsel to a prisoner who had brought a Section 1983 action alleging deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs under the Fourteenth Amendment as a pretrial detainee. The evidence presented was that the pretrial detainee was suffering from gallbladder disease and gallstones, but because of a lack of treatment eventually developed an acute and gangrenous cholecystitis that required an emergent transfer and eventual surgery. The jury did find in favor of all the Defendants, not being able to find deliberate indifference to his medical needs or a conscious disregard to the potential harm. John Watson and Pat Lee would like to offer their congratulations to trial counsel Raylene Grischow and Barbara Kremer Myers of Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP who represented the Sangamon County Defendants. Also, Chris Biswell of Drake, Narup & Mead represented the physician. Defense counsel did an amazing and professional job and certainly should be commended for their hard work and skill in their representation. John Watson and Pat Lee would also like to offer their thanks to Judge Schanzle-Haskins for his outstanding work and effort serving as the presiding Judge over the matter.

IDC In Action
Amicus Participation

At their November meeting, the IDC Board of Directors approved amicus participation in:

  • Fattah v. Bin 2015 IL App (1st) 140171
    In Fattah, a developer sold a home on the condition that the buyer waive the implied warranty of habitability. A few years later, the buyer re-sold the home “as is.” The concrete back porch collapsed and the current owner sued the developer. The primary issue on appeal is whether a waiver of the implied warranty of habitability extends to a subsequent purchaser, who had no knowledge of the initial buyer’s waiver.
  • Richter v. Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc. 2015 IL App (4th) 140613
    In Richter, plaintiff had some, but not all, claims dismissed without prejudice and with leave to amend in 120 days. Plaintiff allowed the deadline to expire and continued to litigate the case on the remaining count. Plaintiff then voluntarily dismissed and re-filed one year later. Plaintiff re-alleged the claims that had been previously dismissed. Defendant claimed that plaintiff’s failure to amend the complaint within the 120–day deadline meant that the dismissal of those claims became a final order, thus barring plaintiff from re-filing under res judicata.

Cases Pending

The IDC filed amicus briefs in the following cases still pending in the Illinois Supreme Court

  • Coleman v. East Joliet Fire Protection District, No. 117952
  • Bowman v. Ottney, No. 119000

Noteworthy

Joel Bertocchi Elected to American Academy of Appellate Lawyers

Joel D. Bertocchi, the Chicago-based leader of the Appellate Practice at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, was elected to be a fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers (AAAL). Membership in AAAL is reserved for experienced appellate advocates who have demonstrated the highest skill level and integrity.

Bonds Appointed to Workers' Compensation Commission's Rules Review and Revisions Committee

Bruce Bonds of Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen, P.C. was appointed to the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission's Rules Review and Revisions Committee on October 29 by Commissioners Michael Brennan and Stephen Mathis, who co-chair the Committee. The Rules Review and Revisions Committee is a bipartisan committee formed to update and revise the rules governing practice before the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission.

Ellen Emery and Lucy Bednarek receive Trial Lawyer Excellence Award

Ancel Glink Diamond Bush DiCianni & Krafthefer litigation partners Ellen Emery and Lucy Bednarek received the Trial Lawyer Excellence award on October 21, 2015 from the Law Bulletin Jury Verdict Reporter for Outstanding Defense Verdict in a Civil Rights case. The award was for the defense verdict against a 13 million dollar demand in the Altman v. Gurnee case, tried in federal court in Chicago.

Leslie Richards-Yellen Named President-Elect of the National Association of Women Lawyers®

Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP is proud to announce that Leslie Richards-Yellen, Partner and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, has been named President-Elect of the National Association of Women Lawyers® (NAWL) for the 2015–2016 year. Ms. Richards-Yellen will succeed current President of the Association, Marsha L. Anastasia, for the 2016–2017 year.

Ms. Richards-Yellen has been a member of NAWL since 2008. She served as Program Committee Co-Chair from 2008 to 2013, and then as Vice President from 2014 to 2015.

Stuart and Monfort Honored with Trial Lawyer Excellence Award

Cheri Stuart and Renee Monfort of Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen, P.C. received a 2015 Jury Verdict Reporter Trial Lawyer Excellence Award for the Outstanding Defense Verdict in a Medical Malpractice Case on October 21.

The award was in recognition of a defense verdict that Stuart, as lead counsel, and Monfort obtained after a two-week medical malpractice trial in which the plaintiff asked the jury for $5 million. The case involved a 34-year-old patient with a history of lupus who died from septic shock while undergoing urgery for necrotizing fasciitis. Stuart and Monfort represented a surgeon who was accused of failing to appropriately communicate with the anesthesia team to ensure that additional lifesaving monitoring was provided during the surgery.

October 2015


Defense Wins 

Sipchen and Eckler Successfully Defend Downstate Law Firm

Jim Sipchen and Donald Patrick Eckler of Pretzel & Stouffer, Chartered successfully defended a prominent downstate law firm in a breach of contract and Illinois Wage Act claim filed by a former associate in a claim brought in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. The former associate claimed that under his employment agreement, he was entitled to a bonus amounting to millions of dollars from contingency fees that the firm had earned post-termination of the associate on cases that the associate had worked on while employed by the firm. Jim and Pat were successful in establishing through discovery that the law firm was not contractually entitled to the fees the former associate was seeking, nor were the fees an earned bonus under the Wage Act and obtained summary judgment for the law firm. The matter was affirmed on appeal. The Seventh Circuit's decision is reported at 784 F.3d 1154 (7th Cir. 2015). 

 

Craney and Pigeon Prevail in Matter Before Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals

Defendants represented by James Craney and Jennifer Pigeon of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, LLP, recently prevailed in a matter before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. That court affirmed the dismissal of a complaint which had been filed against a national security firm and a union in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. Plaintiffs in the matter alleged that defendants breached their collective bargaining agreement with plaintiffs, and also alleged employment discrimination. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois dismissed the action, finding that plaintiffs had not adequately pleaded their causes of action, including the so-called "hybrid" claim under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act. Upon review, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that dismissal.

Marconi, Ryndak Defeat $1.7M Finder’s Fee Claim

Johnson & Bell Shareholders, Joseph R. Marconi and Peter R. Ryndak, successfully defended a home healthcare provider against an alleged breach of contract claim. Plaintiff claimed that it was entitled to a $1.7 million finder’s fee in exchange for information that led to a $5 million per year VA contract. Prior to any disclosure of the purported confidential opportunity, our client entered into the contract, agreeing to pay a 5% finder’s fee to plaintiff, if it secured the business. The finder’s fee claim centered around two allegations: 1) that plaintiff performed its obligation by providing our client with confidential and proprietary information which ultimately led to the procurement of the business opportunity; and 2) as a result, the contract obligated our client to pay plaintiff 5% of gross revenues generated for as long as the business opportunity existed.

Our attorneys contended that the information provided by plaintiff was a matter of public knowledge and was neither confidential nor proprietary. We also successfully argued that even if the contract was enforceable, any fee owing to the plaintiff was cut off by the sale of our client’s assets, including the finder’s fee contract. Finally, we demonstrated that the claimed 5% should be construed to apply to net profits and not gross revenues, as claimed by plaintiff. Since plaintiff only sought 5% of gross revenues and plaintiff did not offer any evidence as to what net profits were generated by the business opportunity, the court found that plaintiff did not prove its damages and was not entitled to collect anything.

Renken, Marshall Secure Defense Verdict in $6.3M Case Against Nursing Home

Following a trial that lasted almost four weeks, Johnson & Bell Shareholder, Sammi L. Renken, and Associate, Jack Marshall, secured a "not guilty" defense verdict for a large operator of nursing homes in the Chicagoland area against Levin & Perconti. The estate for the plaintiff sought $6.3 million from our nursing home client, co-defendant hospital and one of the hospital's doctors, alleging that defendants missed a hip fracture and were negligent relating to a sacral and heel pressure ulcer. The decedent lived 5 years with the wound, or “rotting hole in her back” as plaintiff called it, before her death. Against the nursing home, plaintiff argued that there were deviations from the standard of care, violations of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act and presented graphic photos of the wounds. Defense countered that the pressure ulcers were timely diagnosed and treated and that the plaintiff's underlying medical problems were the cause of the pressure ulcer formation and alleged worsening. The other two defendants in the case, a hospital and a treating physician from that hospital, both received guilty verdicts.

Lynch and Carter Obtain Not Guilty Verdict

On July 17, 2015, John P. Lynch, Jr., and Garrett C. Carter of Cremer Spina LLC obtained a not guilty verdict from a jury in Cook County, Illinois. The female plaintiff, who was 9 years old at the time of the incident, claimed that while playing hide-and-seek in the courtyard of her apartment complex on May 2, 2000 she put her right hand (her dominant hand) through a window in an entry door which broke and severed her median nerve and seven flexor tendons, resulting in permanent scarring and loss of function. The plaintiff claimed that the defendants’, who owned and managed the building, negligently failed to replace previously broken window with safety glazing materials as required by the Chicago Building Code and the Illinois Safety Glazing Act. She requested an award of $720,000 from the jury. The defense argued that the accident could not have happened as the plaintiff claimed and that the defendants did not violate any codes or statutes. The jury deliberated for less than an hour.

Summary Judgment Obtained in Cook County for Restaurant Owner

Ryan L. Greely of Kopon Airdo, LLC recently obtained summary judgment in Cook County on behalf of the defendant owner of a restaurant where the plaintiff was allegedly attacked and injured by a patron. The Plaintiff alleged counts for negligence and Dram Shop, both of which were dismissed by the trial court.

Federal Court Trial Win on Multimillion Dollar Grain Bil Case

Heyl Royster Voelker & Allen recently defended a case in the U.S. District Court in Urbana, IL related to the sale of eight grain bins and other equipment by GSI Group, LLC to a Mexican grain company, Graneros Unidos S.A. de C.V. The grain bins were destroyed during Hurricane Lane in September of 2006. The contract for the sale of the grain bins had a wind rating of 120 mph. The plaintiff claimed the bins were destroyed by winds below the wind rating, that the bins were negligently designed, and that fraudulent misrepresentations and concealments were made during the transaction. The claimed damages included $2.4 million in damaged property, $2.5 million in lost grain, and lost profits of $5 million – for total claimed compensatory damages of nearly $10 million. There were also claims for punitive damages and attorneys' fees under the Consumer Fraud Act claim. The trial was bifurcated and the jury returned verdict in favor of GSI on the breach of contract and negligence claims. The judge subsequently ruled in favor of defendant GSI on the Consumer Fraud Act and punitive damages claims.

The case was tried by attorneys John Flodstrom and Dan Wurl with the support of Renee Monfort, Jim Kearns, Ed Wagner, Cheri Stuart and Joe Guyette, and John's assistant, Nancy Kidd.

Heyl Royster Voelker & Allen Obtains Two Med Mal Defense Verdicts on Same Day

Heyl Royster is pleased to report that on the same day in late September our Springfield and Rockford offices obtained defense verdicts in contested medical malpractice claims.

Adrian Harless and Tyler Robinson, of the firm's Springfield office, successfully defended a case in Adams County (Quincy, Illinois) in which plaintiffs asked the jury for an amount in excess of $3 million.

In Winnebago County (Rockford, Illinois), Doug Pomatto and Mike Denning obtained a defense verdict for a general surgeon in a case involving damages associated with a significant post-surgical complication to the bowel. At issue were more than $500,000 in medical bills. The plaintiff's counsel asked the jury to return a verdict in excess of $1 million.

IDC in Action

Six-Person Jury Law

Michael Resis and Britta Sahlstrom of SmithAmundsen LLC recently had published "The Right to Trial by Jury and Concerns About Illinois' New Six-Person Jury Law" in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. Follow this link to view the article.

The IDC continues to monitor issues surrounding the six-person jury law. In late September, the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin reported that an order was entered to consolidate all pending and future filed motions challenging the constitutionality of the six-person jury demand statute in Ramirez v. Neurological Surgery, et al., 15 L 7110. A hearing is scheduled for October 7.

Amicus Participation

At their September meeting, the IDC Board of Directors approved amicus participation in Carney v. Union Pacific.

The case focuses on the issue of when landowners may be held liable for injuries arising from an independent contractor’s failure to safely perform their work at a construction site. In this case, Union Pacific contracted with Happ’s Inc. to remove a railroad bridge. The contract provided that Happ’s would provide “all superintendence” necessary to remove the bridge and explicitly stated that Happ’s was an independent contractor obligated to “keep the job site free from safety and health hazards.”

Happ’s enlisted the assistance of Carney Group to work together on the basis of a handshake agreement. Union Pacific did not supervise any part of Happ’s/Carney Group’s work. Plaintiff was struck by a falling girder during demolition project.

Under § 414 of the Restatement, liability for the negligence of an independent contractor may only be imposed on a party who retains such an extensive supervisory control that the independent contractor “is not entirely free to do the work in his own way.” In this case, Union Pacific did not perform any onsite supervision of the bridge removal. Nevertheless, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s order granting summary judgment.

Robert Ellsworth of HeplerBroom LLC will prepare the brief on our behalf.

Cases Pending

The IDC filed amicus briefs in the following cases still pending in the Illinois Supreme Court

Price v. Phillip Morris, No. 117687
Folta v. Ferro Engineering, No. 118070
Coleman v. East Joliet Fire Protection District, No. 117952
Ballard v. Kohll’s Pharmacy, 118644
Bowman v. Ottney, No. 119000

 

Noteworthy

Kopon Airdo Attorneys Selected as 2015 Illinois Emerging Lawyers

Rachel Yarch (Employment), Mollie Werwas (Coverage, Healthcare) and Ryan Greely (Complex Civil Trial) of Kopon Airdo LLC were all selected as Emerging Leaders by the Leading Lawyers Network for 2015. Emerging Lawyers are made up of the top two percent of lawyers who are 40 years old or younger or practicing law 10 years or less and have proven themselves professional, ethical and experienced at an early point in their career.

Heyl Royster Celebrates New Peoria Office

Earlier this year, Heyl Royster relocated its Peoria headquarters to three floors of newly renovated office space at 300 Hamilton Blvd. On September 23 the firm celebrated the move with a ribbon cutting ceremony with the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce and an Open House for clients and colleagues to tour the new eco-friendly, collaboration-centric space.

"Our new state-of-the-art headquarters will enable our attorneys to continue our emphasis on consistent, high-quality client representation," said Managing Partner Tim Bertschy. "I am also proud to say the new space is perfectly equipped to help our firm continue the efforts of our environmentally friendly Green Initiative."

Heyl Royster has been located in Peoria for more than 105 years. The three floors of newly renovated office space feature seven conference rooms on the ground floor as well as a Learning Center that seats 75 people and collaboration spaces on the upper floors to facilitate teamwork and collegiality within the firm.

HeplerBroom LLC Attorneys Named Best Lawyers

HeplerBroom LLC is proud to announce that ten of its attorneys; Gordon R. Broom, Glenn E. Davis, Jeffrey S. Hebrank, Larry E. Hepler, Theodore J. MacDonald Jr., Thomas J. Magee, Gerard T. Noce, Jason Rankin, Catherine Reiter, and Anthony Tunney were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2016 (Copyright by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, S.C.), the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession.

In addition to being selected as a Best Lawyer, Gordon R. Broom, Glenn E. Davis, and Theodore J. MacDonald Jr. were awarded Lawyer of the Year. Lawyers being honored as Lawyer of the Year are selected based on particularly impressive voting averages received during the exhaustive peer-review assessments. Receiving this designation reflects the high level of respect a lawyer has earned among other leading lawyers in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, their professionalism, and their integrity.

Larry Schechtman Receives the O'Hagan Award

Larry Schechtman of SmithAmundsen LLC was one of the recipients of the 2015 O’Hagan Award for his dedication and service to the USLAW Network. The President of the organization gives out the O’Hagan award each year to a member who has shown dedication and support to the USLAW Network. Larry received the award in September at the USLAW Fall Conference in Boston.

Foley & Mansfield Wins 2015 WebAward

Foley & Mansfield is pleased to announce it has won a 2015 WebAward for Outstanding Achievement in Web Development in the 19th annual competition sponsored by the Web Marketing Association. The firm’s entry, Redesign for a National Law Firm, won in the category of Legal Standard of Excellence.

As a national defense firm catering to insurance companies, businesses and their owners, the firm’s redesigned site, launched in April of 2015, provides clients, prospects and other interested parties with a friendly, easy to navigate interface that differentiates the firm from its competition and effectively presents the depth of available content.

Key goals of the redesign were to employ a flexible, scalable, easy to use content management system and SEO friendly structure; provide a responsive design to allow access via phones and tablets; and create a new look that reinforces our brand as a responsive, technology-driven legal service provider. Steering clear of stereotypical law firm imagery, the site home page features real attorneys representing the diversity of our national presence. Due to the responsive design and robust search functions, users can easily contact an attorney or access relevant information, regardless of their device or location.

Foley & Mansfield's site received an overall score of 58.0; the average industry score for the legal category was 47.0. According to one of the competition judges, the site demonstrates a "Fantastic execution of your goals and objectives."

About the WebAwards

More than 1,500 entries from 40 countries were adjudicated in 96 industry categories during this year's competition. Entries were judged on design, copy writing, innovation, content, interactivity, navigation, and use of technology.

The competition was judged by a team of independent Internet professionals representing a variety of relevant disciplines of Web site development. Judges included members of the media, advertising executives, site designers, creative directors, corporate marketing executives, content providers and webmasters.

Details of the firm’s award can be found here: http://www.webaward.org/winner.asp?eid=31588#.VecUzflVhBf

 

July 2015

Heine and Dluski Prevail for BNSF in Train Yard Accident Trial

In April, Steve Heine and Tom Dluski of Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen, P.C. defended the BNSF Railway in a FELA jury trial in state court in Galesburg, IL. Plaintiff, who was 47 years old at the time of the incident with four years of service, suffered a broken left rib, lacerated left kidney, and a bruised lung after being struck by a cut of railroad cars while setting handbrakes in the Galesburg train yard in December of 2009. Much of the testimony and evidence at trial centered around how the accident occurred and the applicable rules. Plaintiff alleged that just before the accident he received communication from the Hump Tower Yardmaster that there was a block on Track 19, and that after the accident he was told for the first time that the track was "blocked and rolling," which means that train cars could still be coming down the track. Plaintiff and his expert opined that the use of the term "blocked and rolling" is ambiguous and that a track cannot be blocked and also have cars rolling. Plaintiff also alleged that he had never heard the term until after the incident, although several BNSF witnesses testified that the term was explained during plaintiff's training and on at least two other occasions. Plaintiff also alleged his training was deficient because he was told it was permissible to straddle the rail when setting a handbrake in the bowl, and that he was not familiar with his job responsibilities on the day of the accident. Plaintiff asked the jury for a minimum of $767,000, but received net verdict of $28,000, which reflected the jury's decision to reduce his overall damages by 50% based on the plaintiff's own negligence. Post trial motions are pending.

Appellate Court Affirms Summary Judgment Dismissing Case Against Police Officers

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s summary judgment for Johnson & Bell’s clients, a municipality and its police officer employees. In this case, plaintiff argued that the defendants violated her decedent’s due process rights, secured by the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, by creating a danger that ultimately led to his murder. Specifically, the plaintiff argued that by using her son as an informant in drug cases and disclosing his name during criminal case discovery, the police officer defendants caused his subsequent murder, for which no one has been arrested and charged. Defense argued that the defendants had no duty to protect the plaintiff from danger caused by another person, and that the defendants’ conduct was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s decedent’s death. Johnson & Bell’s motion for summary judgment based on those arguments, and based on the fact that the plaintiff violated various procedural rules during discovery, which included the failure to adhere to Local Rule 56.1 governing the marshaling of proof in a motion for summary judgment, was granted. The plaintiff also argued on appeal that the district court improperly denied her motion for a special prosecutor to investigate perjury by the defendants, and the Court of Appeals upheld the district court on those issues as well. Johnson & Bell attorneys, Brian P. Gainer and Gabriel R. Judd, obtained summary judgment in the district court. Garrett L. Boehm, Jr. and Mr. Gainer secured affirmance of summary judgment before the Seventh Circuit.

O’Hagan LLC Successfully Represents Client before National Labor Relations Board

O’Hagan LLC successfully represented the Chicagoland development agent of an international, fast-casual restaurant chain before the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”). The issue before the NLRB was whether the development agent was a “joint employer” of a local franchisee that allegedly terminated one employee and disciplined another for attempting to unionize the workforce. The NLRB Division of Advice concluded that neither the franchisor nor the development agent were joint employers in this case because they did not have any control or influence over the terms and conditions of employment for the franchisee’s employees.

The NLRB’s current joint employer standard allows a finding of joint employer status where two separate entities share or codetermine essential terms and conditions of employment for the workforce. Specifically, each must meaningfully influence matters such as hiring, firing, discipline, supervision, wages and scheduling. However, the General Counsel has proposed changing the standard to include any entity without whom meaningful bargaining cannot occur because of its influence over the working conditions of the other entity’s employees, or where “industrial realities” otherwise require a finding of joint employer status.

This “joint employer” issue has had considerable publicity recently. The NLRB is currently prosecuting a group of McDonald’s franchisees and McDonald’s USA, their corporate franchisor, under a joint employer liability theory for alleged unfair labor practices arising out of a series of one-day nationwide strikes by fast food restaurant employees. This precedent has been seen as a threat to the independence of franchisees by making it easier for labor unions to organize workers at large fast-food chains, and also potentially subjecting more franchisees to the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to provide health insurance to their employees.

The NLRB’s advice memo in the case O’Hagan LLC defended should come as reassurance to franchisors. Notably, the franchise relationship there was deemed “hands-off” enough to avoid a joint employer finding. If you’re concerned about being held responsible for the conduct of your franchisees, contact O’Hagan LLC for valuable advice on how to avoid such liability including a review of your franchise agreements and defending any NLRB actions.

Johnson, Blakley Secure Not Guilty Verdict in $1M Medical Malpractice Case Brought by Former Pro Tennis Player

After a two-week trial and 47 minutes of deliberations, a Cook County jury found in favor of a neurosurgeon and a Chicago hospital in a medical malpractice case tried by Matthew L. Johnson and Jonathan B. Blakley of Johnson & Bell’s Health Care practice group. Plaintiff, a former female professional tennis player, filed suit against the defendants in 2005 and alleged that her ankle was broken during the course of a spinal fusion procedure. Plaintiff’s attorneys argued under the legal doctrine of res ispa loquitur that such an injury could not occur during surgery absent negligence, and sought nearly $1,000,000 in damages. Johnson and Blakley successfully argued that the injury was not a surgical one, because plaintiff did not begin to complain of right ankle pain until 3 days after surgery, and that the initial injury to the foot occurred while plaintiff was repositioning herself in her hospital bed three days after the surgery.

 

Twelve IDC Member Firms Recognized as Top Illinois Firms for LGBT Inclusiveness and Equality

The following twelve IDC member firms are among 42 Illinois law firms recently honored by Equality Illinois for “Raising the Bar” and leading the way in providing a fair and welcoming work environment for LGBT employees and engaging with the LGBT community.

  • Arnstein & Lehr LLP
  • Baker & McKenzie LLP
  • Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP
  • Greenberg Traurig
  • Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg, LLP
  • Nyhan, Bambrick, Kinzie & Lowry, P.C.
  • Quarles & Brady, LLP
  • Schiff Hardin LLP
  • Seyfarth Shaw LLP
  • Sidley Austin, LLP
  • SmithAmundsen LLC
  • Thompson Coburn LLP

Equality Illinois, an organization whose mission is to secure, protect and defend equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Illinois, recognized NBKL for “Raising the Bar” and leading the way in providing a welcoming and fair work environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees and engaging with the LGBT community.

Six IDC Member Firms Recognized as Best Law Firms for Women

The following six IDC member firms are among the 50 best law firms for women.

  • Baker & McKenzie LLP
  • Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg, LLP
  • Quarles & Brady, LLP
  • Schiff Hardin LLP
  • Seyfarth Shaw LLP
  • Sidley Austin, LLP

Published in the August/September 2015 issue of Working Mother magazine, the closely watched annual recognition honors 50 law firms that are "lauded for their family friendly policies, and business development and career development initiatives that are helping to retain women attorneys and advance them into the leadership pipeline." Firms were measured on a number of factors, including representation and leadership by women lawyers, as well as advancement, development and retention of women lawyers.

According to Jennifer Owens, editorial director of Working Mother Media, “The 50 Best Law Firms for Women are setting and pushing forward the standard when it comes to retaining women--and advancing them to the very top, equity partnership. These firms are also committed to creating best practices that support working parents.”

Bauer Appointed to Illinois Appellate Lawyer’s Association Board of Directors

Beth A. Bauer, Partner in HeplerBroom’s Edwardsville office, was recently appointed to the Illinois Appellate Lawyers Association’s Board of Directors. Mrs. Bauer will be working with the Appellate Lawyers Association coordinating events, continuing legal education, and helping with other association businesses within the Fifth District.

Bozarth Featured in Illinois Business Journal

IDC President Troy A. Bozarth of HeplerBroom LLC, Edwardsville, was recently featured in the Illinois Business Journal, in a story about his involvement with the IDC; the association’s goals and the state of the practice of law in Illinois. Follow this link to view the article.

Hunsaker Appointed Vice-Chair of Glen Carbon Residents’ Advisory Board

In June, Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen, P.C. attorney Rick Hunsaker was appointed the Vice-Chairman of the Village of Glen Carbon Residents' Advisory Board. The Residents' Advisory Board acts as a liaison for the residents of Glen Carbon and the Village and the Village's Mayor on issues of concern to Village residents such as zoning, private and public covenants, districting, home owners associations, and promoting the history of Glen Carbon.

Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP Attorneys Listed Among the International Who’s Who of Insurance & Reinsurance Lawyers 2015

Hinshaw Culbertson, LLP is pleased to announce that Ronald L. Kammer, Michael M. Marick, and Scott M. Seaman were selected for inclusion in The International Who's Who of Insurance & Reinsurance Lawyers 2015. The list of the world's foremost insurance and reinsurance lawyers was identified by Who's Who Legal as a result of its independent research with companies, clients, and peers. Only 220 lawyers from the United States were selected for inclusion. Ron Kammer was one of only two lawyers honored from the State of Florida. Mike Marick and Scott Seaman were two of only 32 lawyers selected from the State of Illinois.

Murphy Selected as One of Forty Business Leaders Under 40

Michael P. Murphy, a partner in HeplerBroom’s Springfield office, was selected as part of the Springfield Business Journal’s 2015 Forty Under 40. Individuals named to the list are selected based on their contributions to the local business community and the community in which they reside.

The Springfield Business Journal, July 2015 edition, can be viewed here. Mr. Murphy is featured on page 26.

 

June 2015


Defense Jury Verdict Obtained in $31 Million Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

First Bankers Trust Company, Inc. v. Memorial Medical Center, No. 2011-L-184 (7th Jud. Cir., Sangamon Co., Ill., April 17, 2015)

Brown, Hay & Stephens, LLP partners Peter Naylor and Paul Bown, with co-counsel Joe Farchione and Michele Choe of Wheeler, Trigg, O’Donnell (Denver, CO), obtained a defense verdict in a $31 million case involving the early discharge of a newborn who went on to suffer early-onset group B strep sepsis and meningitis, resulting in a diagnosis of cerebral palsy and seizure disorder.

Brown, Hay & Stephens, LLP represented a hospital whose nurses were accused of failing to convey vital information to a pediatrician before the infant's discharge and failing to activate the chain of command to preclude the pediatrician from discharging the child. The plaintiff claimed the information, had it been communicated, would have delayed discharge. The plaintiff also asserted that the nurses were negligent in not referring the parents to the pediatrician or the emergency department when they called later on the day of discharge with non-specific complaints. The defense successfully argued there were no deviations from the standard of care and no proximate cause.

After hearing all the evidence, the 12-member jury found in favor of the defense.

 

Marconi, Jalalpour Secure Not Guilty Verdict for Client Facing Malpractice Charge

Johnson & Bell, Ltd. Shareholder, Joseph R. Marconi, and Associate, Ramses Jalalpour, successfully defended an Illinois attorney charged with malpractice. Johnson & Bell’s client was charged with malpractice by the co-owner of a former private equity business. Johnson & Bell's client represented the owner in an underlying business dispute with his former partner. When the two former partners terminated their business relationship, a lawsuit was filed concerning the division of more than a million dollars in fees for outstanding projects. The former partners eventually settled the litigation without their respective lawyers. However, the former co-owner later alleged that Johnson & Bell’s client breached his obligations by failing to properly advise him regarding his exposure in the litigation. At trial, Marconi and Jalalpour successfully dismantled the defendant’s expert witness testimony and established that the defendant’s allegations were without merit. After five days of trial, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty on the former client’s malpractice claim against Johnson & Bell’s client. In addition, the jury awarded Johnson & Bell's client $54,000 in fees owed by his client, the co-owner of the former private equity business. The jury also asked the court whether they could award punitive damages to our client. However, the court instructed the jury that punitive damages were not allowed in the claims submitted to the jury.

 

Craney Receives Defense Verdict

Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith attorney James Craney completed a two-day jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Plaintiff alleged that Craney's client - a debt collector - violated multiple provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), by revealing details of a debt to a third-party, and also by using misleading tactics to attempt to collect an invalid debt. The plaintiff sought statutory penalties, as well as actual damages for humiliation and emotional distress. After deliberating for less than one hour, the jury returned a defense verdict.

 

Pomatto and Denning Secure Defense Verdict in Medical Malpractice Jury Trial

Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen attorneys Doug Pomatto and Mike Denning recently secured a defense verdict for a pediatrician following an eight-day medical malpractice jury trial in DeKalb County. In the case, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendant doctor failed to diagnose undescended testicles in their child. When the child was born, a non-party pediatrician did an assessment of the baby and found bilateral undescended testicles. The defendant pediatrician, however, assessed the baby later that day and found the testicles within normal limits. The defendant pediatrician went on to care for the child until the child was 15 months old. When the child was four-years old a pediatric surgeon noted that the child’s left testicle was undescended in the inguinal canal and that the child’s right testicle was undescended in the abdomen. Following two surgeries to try to correct the condition, the surgeon ultimately removed an atrophic right testicle. Plaintiffs claimed that the condition of undescended testicles was present throughout the child's life and misdiagnosed by the defendant pediatrician. The Heyl Royster attorneys presented a case that the child suffered from a rare but clinically significant condition known as ascending testicles, in which previously descended testicles can ascend over time. Plaintiff’s claimed damages included loss of a testicle, loss of a normal life and emotional distress, and claims of infertility in adulthood. The plaintiffs asked for $2 million in damages but the jury returned a verdict in favor of the pediatrician in less than 90 minutes.

 

IDC Submits Guest Column to State Journal-Register IDC President

David H. Levitt of Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP in Chicago recently responded to statements made about Governor Rauner’s lawsuit reform proposal. Follow this link to view the original statements made by Springfield plaintiff's attorney Bruce Beeman about the lawsuit reform proposal and this link to view David's response.

 

Johnson & Bell, Ltd. Celebrates Anniversary

Johnson & Bell, Ltd. marks its fortieth year this year. The firm has grown to over 100 attorneys, offering a practice national in scope, with offices in Chicago and Indiana.

Ten Quinn, Johnston, Henderson, Pretorius & Cerulo Attorneys Recognized for Professional Achievement

Ten attorneys from the Peoria law firm of Quinn, Johnston, Henderson, Pretorius & Cerulo have been named to prestigious lists by two prominent ratings services: Illinois Super Lawyers and Illinois Rising Stars. Each year, only five percent of the total lawyers in the state are selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers. Quinn Johnston is honored that all ten of the attorneys recognized this year have also been recognized for their professional achievement in past years.

Please join us in congratulating these outstanding lawyers for receiving these distinguished honors for multiple years in a row.
Named to the 2015 Illinois Super Lawyers List

  • Gregory A. Cerulo (11th year)
  • Adam P. Chaddock (2nd year)
  • Peter R. Jennetten (6th year)
  • John F. Kamin (4th year)
  • Murvel D. Pretorius, Jr. (11th year)
  • Matthew B. Smith (4th year)
  • Jo T. Wetherill (3rd year)

Named to the 2015 Illinois Rising Stars List

  • Christopher D. Galanos (2nd year)
  • Michael J. Mersot (2nd year)
  • Emily H. Wilburn (2nd year)

Fencl Appointed Chair of ALFA Insurance Law Practice Group Leadership Team

Johnson & Bell, Ltd. Shareholder, Glenn F. Fencl, has been appointed Chair of the ALFA Insurance Law Practice Group (IPG) leadership team. He recently attended the ALFA International 2015 Insurance Law Roundtable in New York City on June 10 - June 12. Mr. Fencl's term as Chair officially began at the conclusion of the meeting. Mr. Fencl is co-chair of Johnson & Bell's Insurance Group, concentrating his practice in insurance coverage and product liability defense. He is involved in many law organizations and has been an active member of ALFA International. Prior to his recent appointment as chair, Mr. Fencl has been a member of the ALFA IPG steering committee, program chair for the ALFA Employment Practices Liability Insurance seminar and the Vice Chair of Marketing for ALFA IPG. ALFA International is the premier network of independent law firms. Founded in 1980, ALFA is the first and continues to be one of the largest and strongest legal networks.

 

Pollock-Flynn Named Partner

Camilla M. Pollock-Flynn has been promoted to partner at LaBarge Campbell & Lyon, LLC in Chicago. Ms. Pollock-Flynn concentrates her practice in medical malpractice defense, insurance coverage, construction litigation, and general insurance defense. Ms. Pollock-Flynn joined LaBarge, Campbell & Lyon as an associate in 2007. She received her undergraduate degree, cum laude, from the University of Notre Dame in 2004 and her juris doctor, cum laude, from DePaul University College of Law in 2007. Ms. Pollock-Flynn also holds a certificate in health law.

Jacobs, Kaplan Elected County Bar Officers

Betty, Neuman & McMahon, P.L.C. attorneys Steven Jacobs and Jordan Kaplan, have been elected as Treasurer and Vice-President, respectively, of the Scott County (Iowa) Bar.

Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Named Newcomer to NLJ 350

Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP was named to the "NLJ 350," a listing of the 350 largest law firms in the United States according to the National Law Journal, for the first time. With 117 attorneys at the time of ranking, Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP was listed as the 346th largest law firm in the country.

The NLJ interviewed Managing Partner Timothy G. Nickels as a newcomer to the listing. Nickels spoke of the firm's new offices in St. Louis, Mo. and Madison County, Ill., as well as expanding practice areas.

Chicagoland Healthcare Risk Management Society Elects Jennifer Stuart as President-Elect

Chicagoland Healthcare Risk Management Society (CHRMS) elected Jennifer Stuart, co-chair of the SmithAmundsen’s health care group, to president-elect for 2015-2016, and president in 2016-2017. CHRMS, an affiliated chapter of the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management, concentrates on advancing and developing the domain of health care risk management. The organization works to promote patient safety and provide tools and education to minimize risk and liability to health care organizations.

With her background working in clinical laboratories, her certification in health care compliance, and her repeated selection to Illinois Super Lawyers “Rising Stars,” Jennifer Stuart is well qualified to lead the CHRMS board and to promote the vision of CHRMS. She works diligently with her clients to defend against allegations of medical error, while also helping her clients identify practices or deficiencies likely to lead to systemic or isolated areas of risk. Her work with clients on health care compliance issues provides her with additional insights into the pressures that health care organizations face in trying to deliver quality care. Congratulations to Jennifer and CHRMS!

Law360 Releases List of 100 Best U.S. Law Firms for Female Attorneys; SmithAmundsen Ranked #15

Law360 has ranked SmithAmundsen, LLC 15th on its list of Top 100 Law Firms for Female Attorneys. This national ranking is based on the firm’s female representation at the partner and non-partner levels, and its total number of female attorneys.

 

Hogan Featured in Leading Lawyers Magazine

Patricia Hogan of Cassiday Schade LLP in Chicago was featured in the January 2015 issue of Leading Lawyers Magazine - Real Estate, Construction & Environmental Edition in an article titled, Patricia Hogan: A Relentless Force in Construction Law.

 

DeVore Radunksy LLC Attorney Named Super Lawyer

DeVore Radunksy LLC is pleased to announce that Troy S. Radunsky has been named as a 2015 “Super Lawyer" (Construction Litigation). Previously, Troy was named as a "Rising Star" on multiple occasions.

 

DuChateau Named Volunteer of the Year for Micah Legal Aid Clinic

Johnson & Bell, Ltd. Attorney, James P. DuChateau, has been selected as the Volunteer of the Year for the Micah Legal Aid Clinic for 2014. Mr. DuChateau has been volunteering at Micah Legal Aid Clinic, part of LAF, since 2012. LAF, formerly known as the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, is a non-profit focused on providing free professional legal services in non-criminal matters to people living in poverty in metropolitan Chicago. Every year, each pro bono project at LAF selects one volunteer who exemplified the spirit of volunteerism and went above and beyond the call of duty for their clients. Mr. DuChateau was selected because of the results he achieved for his clients and the number of cases he worked on throughout the year.

 

Goldberg Segalla Adds N.C. Office, and Lawyers in Philly and London, to Meet Growing Global Insurance Industry Demand

Goldberg Segalla recently unveiled a series of significant moves that will continue to enhance the depth and range of services it offers its international client base. The firm announced that it will open an office in North Carolina, signaling expansion into the Southeastern U.S., and that its Philadelphia office will be joined by a trio of prominent insurance coverage attorneys. Goldberg Segalla’s London office will also see the addition of a key legal representative of Spanish and South American insurers on London market and U.S. insurance issues.

 

Hall Prangle and Schoonveld LLC Announces Top Ranking

Hall Prangle and Schoonveld LLC (HPS) proudly announces its inclusion on Martindale-Hubbell's list of the 2015 Chicago’s Top Ranked Law Firms™. In addition to the recent firm ranking, HPS also has a group of six individual attorneys who have each received an AV rating of 5.0 out of a possible 5.0 from Martindale-Hubbell.

Separately, a group of 7 HPS attorneys have been named Illinois Super Lawyers, with Hugh Griffin being named as one of the Top 100 lawyers in the state of Illinois, and Patrick McHale being regarded as one of the state's Rising Stars in 2015.

Our congratulations to the following attorneys on their recognition:
Thomas Burke, Jr.
Hugh Griffin
(Top 100 in Illinois)
David C. Hall
Benjamin Patterson
Michael Prangle
Jacqueline Sharuzi

Patrick Mc Hale
- 2015 Illinois Rising Star

HeplerBroom Supports Child Advocacy Center

HeplerBroom LLC had two trivia tables at the 10th Annual Trivia Night for the Madison County Child Advocacy Center (CAC) on February 21, 2015. One of HB’s team took first place which in return gave back to a great cause. The CAC provides professional intervention and supportive services to fight child abuse in Madison County, Illinois.

 

Heyl Royster Adds Drone Law Practice

Heyl Royster Voelker & Allen is pleased to announce that the firm has added a new Drone Law Practice. "Drone Law" refers to the complex legal environment associated with the recreational, municipal, and commercial use of remotely piloted "Unmanned Aerial Vehicles" (UAVs), also known as "Unmanned Aircraft Systems" (UAS). Heyl Royster's Drone Law Practice is chaired by John Heil and includes attorneys who have aircraft pilot experience, have served as consultants on military aviation programs, have authored numerous military aviation publications, and who are experienced in commercial and regulatory litigation, as well as with mechanical engineering and manufacturing.

 

March 2015
Mifflin Appointed to Supreme Court Committee

R. Mark Mifflin of the Springfield law firm of Giffin Winning Cohen & Bodewes, PC has been appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Character and Fitness for the Fourth District.

 

McVisk, Bedell Obtain Summary Judgment Rescinding Insurance Policy

Johnson & Bell, Ltd. Shareholder, William K. McVisk, and Associate, Daniel R. Bedell, obtained summary judgment for a major fixed annuity and life insurance company, rescinding a life insurance policy due to misrepresentations in the application for coverage. The insured applied for life insurance in November 2003, and the policy issued in January 2004. The insured died in April, 2004. In its investigation, our client determined that the insured had misrepresented his health status on the application, failing to disclose that he had a seizure disorder, was taking medications for seizures, and was receiving disability benefits due to his seizures. Also, before the policy issued, the insured was hospitalized for a suspicious tumor, which turned out to be cancer, but the insured failed to report this to the insurer. The insurance company refused to pay the loss, and rescinded the policy. Nearly ten years later, the decedent’s family sued to recover under the policy. After discovery, our client moved for summary judgment, arguing that under section 154 of the Illinois Insurance Code, the insurance company was entitled to rescind the policy because of the insured’s misrepresentations in the application for the policy and due to the insured’s failure to disclose his suspicious tumor before the policy issued. After briefing and argument, the court granted summary judgment for our client, holding that the policy was properly rescinded, and the insurance company was not obligated to pay anything on the policy.

 

Peterson, Smith Win Grain Contract Case

Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen attorneys Brian Smith and Brad Peterson completed a two-day bench trial in mid-February and prevailed on behalf of a local grain company. The grain company sought to compel a farmer to arbitrate a contract for the sale and delivery of corn. The farmer disputed the existence of the contract. The court concluded that a valid contract, which included a written arbitration provision, existed and compelled the farmer to arbitrate the dispute. The amount in controversy exceeded $300,000.

 

Tarpey, Souferis Successfully Defend Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Hall Prangle and Schoonveld LLC attorneys Mike Tarpey and Bill Souferis successfully defended a Wrongful Death lawsuit at trial on behalf of their clients, a Chicago area teaching hospital and infectious disease physician from The Mayo Clinic. At the start of trial, the Court dismissed the Plaintiff’s case with prejudice, as a result of the defense’s motion for sanctions and supporting legal argument based on evidence that was improperly obtained then withheld. In granting this extreme sanction, the Court stressed the obligation of all participants to maintain the integrity of the civil justice system.

 

Tunney, Elworth Obtain Summary Judgment on Behalf of Insurance Agency Client in Federal Opinion

HeplerBroom LLC Chicago partners Anthony Tunney and Robert Elworth obtained summary judgment for their client in a federal case involving a massive insurance fraud, whose perpetrator is serving a ten-year prison sentence. Plaintiff was a victim of the scheme, having received phony coverage despite a first-installment premium payment of more than $1.3 million and more than $3 million in claimed damages. HeplerBroom's client, an insurance agency, acted briefly as the program’s administrator, was unaware of its fraudulent nature, and had issued more than 60 other policies pursuant to underwriting guidelines. The plaintiff’s policy was not among those issued policies. Despite the agency’s involvement in the program, the Northern District of Illinois order held that the agency owed no duty to the plaintiff under Illinois law, because no request was ever made to the agency to procure coverage for this specific insured and the agency received no commission from this transaction, thus warranting summary judgment on all counts.

 

DeVore Radunsky LLC Attorney Named Super Lawyer

DeVore Radunksy LLC is pleased to announce that Troy S. Radunsky has been named as a 2015 “Super Lawyer" (Construction Litigation). Previously, Troy was named as a "Rising Star" on multiple occasions.

 

January 2015 

Defense Wins

January 7, 2015

Brian Henry of Pretzel & Stouffer, Chartered recently successfully defended a multi-specialty medical group in a trial in Cook County in which an internal medicine physician and clinic nurse were alleged to have improperly instructed an 80 year old patient regarding a change in her blood thinning medication, for failing to notify her family and visiting nurse of the dosage change and for failing to monitor her blood after the change. Five days after the change, the patient was admitted to the hospital with significantly elevated INRs and a spinal bleed which resulted in paralysis and weakness in one arm. The plaintiff asked the jury for an award in excess of $ 2.5 million and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the medical group after two and a half hours of deliberations.

Johnson & Bell, Ltd. Shareholder, William K. McVisk, and Associate, Daniel R. Bedell, obtained summary judgment for a major fixed annuity and life insurance company, rescinding a life insurance policy due to misrepresentations in the application for coverage. The insured applied for life insurance in November 2003, and the policy issued in January 2004. The insured died in April, 2003. In its investigation, our client determined that the insured had misrepresented his health status on the application, failing to disclose that he had a seizure disorder, was taking medications for seizures, and was receiving disability benefits due to his seizures. Also, before the policy issued, the insured was hospitalized for a suspicious tumor, which turned out to be cancer, but the insured failed to report this to the insurer. The insurance company refused to pay the loss, and rescinded the policy. Nearly ten years later, the decedent’s family sued to recover under the policy. After discovery, our client moved for summary judgment, arguing that under section 154 of the Illinois Insurance Code, the insurance company was entitled to rescind the policy because of the insured’s misrepresentations in the application for the policy and due to the insured’s failure to disclose his suspicious tumor before the policy issued. After briefing and argument, the court granted summary judgment for Johnson & Bell, Ltd.'s client, holding that the policy was properly rescinded, and the insurance company was not obligated to pay anything on the policy.

Donald J. O’Meara, Jr. of Pretzel & Stouffer, Chartered recently obtained dismissal of a multi-count medical negligence lawsuit brought by a plaintiff physician against a Chicago-area internist. The Plaintiff, a neurosurgery resident at an out-of-state medical center, alleged that he underwent an evaluation by a multi-disciplinary medical team comprised of Chicago-area physicians. The medical team had been retained by the Plaintiff’s employer to evaluate the Plaintiff and to prepare a report of the team’s findings. The Plaintiff asserted that the members of the medical team negligently evaluated him and issued a “false and misleading” report which ultimately caused his employer to terminate his medical residency. The Plaintiff sued the members of the medical evaluation team and also sued the medical center which hosted the evaluation. The complaint alleged medical negligence as well as tortious interference with contract and tortious interference with prospective economic advantage. Don filed a motion to dismiss on behalf of the client asserting that a third party medical evaluation does not establish a physician-patient relationship and consequently cannot support a claim for medical negligence. Following oral argument, the Circuit Court issued a lengthy written opinion finding that the Plaintiff had not adequately established the existence of a physician-patient relationship with his medical evaluators and, therefore, the defendant-evaluators did not owe the Plaintiff a medical duty of care. The Circuit Court therefore dismissed the Plaintiff’s case with prejudice as to all defendants. The Plaintiff filed an appeal, and the appeal was ultimately dismissed by the Illinois Appellate Court.

 

Susan Gunty Writes Book on World War II

January 7, 2015

Susan Gunty of Gunty & McCarthy has written Schwerpunkt: From D-Day to the Fall of the Third Reich, a book about World War II. Schwerpunkt, the German word for critical striking point, tells the story of the D-Day Invasion and the battles leading to the final destruction of Hitler's Third Reich. The book is available on both Barnes &Noble and Amazon.

 

HeplerBroom, LLC Announces New Partners & Associates

January 7, 2015 

HeplerBroom, LLC announced recently that Andrew Carruthers, Michael Murphy, and Noel Smith have been elected partners of HeplerBroom LLC. Carruthers and Smith practice in the Edwardsville office. Murphy practices in the Springfield office. The firm also announced that Dustin Maguire and Benjamin Bakula have joined the firm as associate attorneys - Maguire in the firm's Edwardsville office and Bakula in its St. Louis office.

Andrew Carruthers is a general practice attorney with a primary emphasis in: estate planning, probate litigation, wills and trusts, business succession planning, corporate, general business law, real estate, municipal and government law, banking law, election law, and political and campaign finance law.

Michael Murphy has experience in the defense of a wide variety of cases, including: premises liability, personal injury, contract disputes, insurance coverage, the Illinois Dram Shop Act, wrongful death, products liability, property damage, and employment discrimination.

Noel Smith focuses his practice on trials involving complex business litigation matters including: asbestos, toxic tort, product liability, and personal injury.

Dustin Maguire is a litigation attorney and focuses his practice on toxic torts, premises liability, and product liability. He earned his J.D., cum laude, in 2014 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law. He received his B.S., magna cum laude, from Northern Kentucky University in 2010.

Benjamin Bakula is a litigation attorney and focuses his practice on toxic torts, premises liability, and product liability. He obtained his J.D. in 2014 from University of Missouri School of Law. He attended undergraduate school at Indiana University – Bloomington, Kelley School of Business, where he received his B.S. in 2011.

 

Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen Community Outreach 

January 7, 2015

This holiday season, each of Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen's six offices came up with unique and personal ways to help families and individuals in need.

The Edwardsville office started collections for its holiday giving efforts in October with Casual Fridays fundraisers, collecting money and in-kinds donations to support area non-profit organizations. Thanks to the kind personnel of Heyl Royster in Edwardsville, donations will also be made to two animal shelters, Gateway Pet Guardians and the 5A's, and to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. In Rockford, Heyl Royster employees took shifts ringing bells and singing carols for the Salvation Army at a local Schnuck's store. The firm's Peoria office again participated in the "Project Santa Gift & Donation Drive," organized by the Peoria County Bar Association. The Urbana office adopted a family of four, including a 10 year old boy and a 3 year old girl, through the Salvation Army Adopt-A-Family (AAF) program. The Springfield office participated in "The James Project" – a foster care and adoption ministry. Staff was able to donate a child's bike to a foster family. Attorneys and staff in the firm's Chicago office again worked through the Midtown Center – an organization that offers enrichment opportunities for city children and their parents through after-school and summertime programs – to provide Christmas baskets with food and gifts to families in need.

 

Johnson & Bell, Ltd. Attorneys Named Super Lawyers & Rising Stars

January 7, 2015

Congratulations to the 19 Johnson & Bell, Ltd. attorneys chosen as Super Lawyers and 5 attorneys chosen as Rising Stars:

2015 Super Lawyers
William G. Beatty - Personal Injury Defense: General
John W. Bell - Civil Litigation Defense
Robert M. Burke - Civil Litigation Defense
Gregory D. Conforti - Transportation/Maritime
Glenn F. Fencl - Insurance Coverage
Brian C. Fetzer - Civil Litigation Defense
Scott W. Hoyne - Civil Litigation Defense
Matthew L. Johnson - Personal Injury Defense: Medical Malpractice
William V. Johnson - Civil Litigation Defense
Joseph R. Marconi - Business Litigation
William K. McVisk - Insurance Coverage
H. Patrick Morris - Class Action
Kevin G. Owens - Personal Injury Defense: Products
Charles P. Rantis - Personal Injury Defense: Products
Jack T. Riley, Jr. - Civil Litigation Defense
William D. Serritella - Civil Litigation Defense
James K. Toohey – Civil Litigation Defense
Robert J. Dignam – Employment & Labor
Stephen A. Tyler – Personal Injury Defense: Medical Malpractice

2015 Rising Stars
Matthew P. D'Avanzo - Personal Injury Defense: Medical Malpractice
James P. DuChateau - Insurance Coverage
Gabriel R. Judd - Insurance Coverage
Meghan M. Sciortino - Personal Injury Defense: General
Anna Mandula - Personal Injury Defense: Medical Malpractice
 

Tobin Taylor Featured in Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

January 7, 2015

Tobin Taylor, the Managing Partner of the Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen Chicago office, was featured in the "Law Firm Leaders" section of the December 16 issue of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. In the article entitled, "Heyl Royster's Taylor Swaps Offices, Homes," Tobin talks about overseeing the firm's growth in Chicago, including the December 22 opening of a new Chicago office—a 13,000 sq. ft. space for 17 lawyers on the seventh floor at 33 N. Dearborn Street.

As Chicago office Managing Partner, Tobin said his main goal is to re-create the quality of representation that the firm provides to clients at its other offices. As a Peoria-office transplant, he also wants to maintain the firm's culture and emphasis on work-life balance. Tobin said that at Heyl Royster, "There tends to be a focus on community and family."

The new Chicago office includes a collaboration area, which Tobin said will encourage lawyers to "spend time together and build some of the personal relationships that strengthen our teamwork and the work we do for our clients."

The Law Bulletin interviewed retired Cook County judge William D. Maddux, who commented that Tobin was always "well-organized" and he "didn't we waste any time and came right to the point." Judge Maddux also commented how well Tobin represented his clients and how easy he is to deal with.

 

Gary Zhao Mentioned in Crain's Chicago Business Article

January 7, 2015

Gary Zhao, partner in SmithAmundsen's Commercial Litigation Practice Group, was mentioned in a recent article by Crain's Chicago Business entitled "Why Chicago law firms are learning Mandarin." The article was published on January 3, 2015. The article discusses how more firms are hiring individuals who are able to break the language barrier when doing business with Chinese companies. Click here to read the full article.

 

 

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