ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT PETITIONS FOR LEAVE TO APPEAL ALLOWED MAY 2010 TERM

In document and Workers Compensation Updates & Changes in Casualty & Property (Page 142-146)

CASES PENDING IN THE ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT

ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT PETITIONS FOR LEAVE TO APPEAL ALLOWED MAY 2010 TERM

Gaffney v. Board of Trustees of Orland Fire Protection Dist.

397 Ill. App. 3d 679, 921 N.E.2d 778, 336 Ill. Dec. 922 (1st Dist. 2009) Lemmenes v. Orland Fire Protection Dist.

399 Ill. App. 3d 644, 927 N.E.2d 783, 340 Ill. Dec. 44 (1st Dist. 2010) S. Ct. Docket Nos. 110012 and 110198 (cons.)

Issue: Employment – Benefits

Whether firefighters are entitled to lifetime health benefits coverage for themselves and their families when they are injured in a live-fire training exercise.

Appellate Court Decisions

Under section 10 of the Public Safety Employee Benefits Act a full-time law enforcement, correctional, or probation officer or firefighter, who suffers a catastrophic injury or is killed in the line of duty is entitled, along with his dependents, to lifetime health coverage benefits. But this lifetime benefit is only awarded if the injury or death occurred as the result of the officer or firefighter's response to what is reasonably believed to be an emergency. 820 ILCS 320/10 (West 2006). In these consolidated cases, the firefighters were injured during live-fire training accidents. In Lemmenes, the Appellate Court held in favor of the firefighter, explaining that the training exercise required the plaintiff to be engaged as if he was responding to an emergency situation. In Gaffney, the Appellate Court arrived at the opposite conclusion, holding that the firefighter could not have reasonably believed he was responding to an emergency because he knew it was a training exercise.

Studt v. Sherman Health Systems

387 Ill. App. 3d 401, 900 N.E.2d 1212, 326 Ill. Dec. 965 (2d Dist. 2008) S. Ct. Docket No. 108182

Issue: Professional Negligence – Juror Instructions

Whether Illinois Pattern Jury Instruction No. 105.01 accurately states the law in regard to the standard of care in cases alleging claims for professional negligence.

Synopsis

Patient brought claims against hospital for institutional negligence and vicarious liability for the hospital's doctors in failing to diagnose his appendicitis. The jury found in plaintiff’s favor and the hospital appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in tendering a jury instruction regarding the standard of care for professional negligence.

Appellate Court Decision

The Hospital argued that Illinois Pattern Jury Instruction No. 105.01, amended in 2006, is unclear.

The instruction provides that “‘Professional negligence’ by a doctor is the failure to do something that a reasonably careful doctor would do, or the doing of something that a reasonably careful doctor would not do.” The instruction further provides that in making its decision, jurors are to rely on the testimony of qualified witnesses and “must not attempt to determine this question from any personal knowledge.” IPI (Civil) No. 105.01 (2006). An earlier Appellate Court decision held that the instruction was confusing because it initially tells jurors not to determine the standard of care from their personal knowledge, but then seems to contradict itself by adding that:

The law does not say how a reasonably careful [professional] would act under these circumstances. That is for you to decide. IPI (Civil) No. 105.01 (2006).

H-19

The Appellate Court found that the instruction “leaves no question” that jurors should determine the standard of care based on the evidence, and not on their personal knowledge. The Illinois Supreme Court accepted the case in order to resolve the conflict in the Appellate Court.

Jablonski v. Ford Motor Co.

398 Ill. App. 3d 222, 923 N.E.2d 347, 337 Ill. Dec. 788 (5th Dist. 2010) S. Ct. Docket No. 110096

Issue: Product Liability – Duty to Warn

Whether an automobile manufacturer has a duty to warn of the potential that contents of the trunk might puncture the fuel tank.

Synopsis

Plaintiffs alleged a claim for strict product liability and negligent design involving their 1993 Lincoln Town Car following a rear-end collision that caused a wrench in the trunk to pierce the steel wall of the trunk and rupture the fuel tank. Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their strict liability claims at the close of evidence and the case was submitted to the jury on the claims for negligent design and willful and wanton conduct. The jury returned a verdict against Ford in excess of $43 million, including $15 million in punitive damages.

Appellate Court Decision

The Appellate Court affirmed, rejecting Ford’s numerous claims of trial error, and issues of law involving a manufacturer’s duty to give post-sale warnings whenever changes are made to improve the safety of future products. Ford argues that there is no duty to warn of every potential hazard but only those hazards where it is objectively reasonable to expect the user of the product to be injured in the manner in which the injury actually occurred. Ford also contends that a manufacturer cannot be held liable for negligent design when the evidence shows that it is impossible to design out or guard against the hazard.

Craig L. Unrath

- Partner

Craig is a partner in Heyl Royster's Appellate Practice Group. He began his legal career with Heyl Royster in 1994 after serving for two years as law clerk to Justice Carl A. Lund of the Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District.

Craig concentrates his practice in appellate advocacy, handling appeals in a wide variety of areas ranging from medical malpractice, insurance coverage, civil rights, contract, and tort law in both state and federal courts of review. Craig has extensive experience in both the Illinois Appellate and Supreme Court. He has argued 11 cases before the Illinois Supreme Court, 8 of which were the result of successful Petitions for Leave to Appeal. Craig has prevailed in 8 of the 11 cases he has argued in the Illinois Supreme Court.

Craig is also responsible for almost all of the firm's cases before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. He has argued 24 cases before the Seventh Circuit and had dozens of appeals decided without oral argument.

Craig also regularly represents professionals on licensure issues before the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Craig served as President of the Appellate Lawyers Association from 2006 to 2007.

Significant Cases

Cookson v. Price, 2009 WL 2525123 - A medical malpractice plaintiff may be granted leave to amend a complaint to correct defects resulting from a failure to comply with statute requiring a section 2-622 affidavit of merit where the complaint does not appear to be frivolous, even where the new report is substantially different than the original report.

Publications

Return of the Verdict and Entry

of Judgment, Illinois Civil Practice: Trying the Case, Ch. 13, (IICLE 2009).

"Privileges" Illinois Civil Trial Practice, Ch. 7 (IICLE 2009)

Public Speaking

“Petitions for Rehearing and Petitions for Leave to Appeal”

Appellate Practice Seminar sponsored by the Appellate Lawyers Association (2010)

“Examination of Post-Judgment Issues”

Claims & Defense Tactics Symposium (2010) Professional Recognition

Named to the Illinois Super Lawyers list (2008-2011). The Super Lawyers selection process is based on peer recognition and professional achievement. Only five percent of the lawyers in each state earn this designation.

Selected as a Leading Lawyer in Illinois. Only five percent of lawyers in the state are named as Leading Lawyers

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article on successful appeal in Cripe v. Leiter before the Illinois Supreme Court

Professional Associations

Illinois Appellate Lawyers Association (Past President 2007-2008)

Defense Research Institute (DRI)

Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel

Seventh Circuit Bar Association

Peoria County Bar Association

Illinois State Bar Association

American Bar Association Court Admissions

State Courts of Illinois

United States District Court, Central, Southern and Northern Districts of Illinois

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh and Eighth Circuits

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

United States Supreme Court Education

Juris Doctor, University of Illinois, 1991

Bachelor of Arts-Humanities, Shimer College, 1978

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In document and Workers Compensation Updates & Changes in Casualty & Property (Page 142-146)