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J&B Blog Archives

I Hear You Knocking, But You Can’t Come In

By the time you hear the media knocking on your door, it is too late to develop a crisis communication plan. Keeping the door closed is not an option. What is your plan for addressing media and other inquiries resulting from a catastrophic accident or other event? Media attention to your company and your response   Continue Reading »

Illinois Court Revisits Attorney-Client Privilege between Insurer and Insured

An issue that often arises in insurance coverage litigation is the extent to which an insured can shelter communications with its attorneys from an insurer which may have a defense duty or may be liable for paying a third party claim. A recent appellate decision means that insurers may not obtain attorney-client communications from their   Continue Reading »

Extracontractual Damages Without Bad Faith

Generally third party insurers have good reason to believe that if they don’t commit bad faith, the most they will have to pay for indemnity is the amount of the insurer’s policy limit. Numerous cases, of course, have held that where an insurer breaches the duty to settle, though, it will be on the hook   Continue Reading »

Can The Underlying Plaintiff Collect More Than The Amount of the Underlying Judgment in Third Party Failure to Settle Cases?

In the typical third party bad faith case, the underlying plaintiff’s attorney makes a policy limits settlement demand, the insurer does not agree to pay its limits, or does not do so in the time the plaintiff’s attorney thinks it should, and the plaintiff then obtains a verdict substantially in excess of the policy limits.   Continue Reading »

Utilizing the Appointment of Guardians ad Litem as a Defense Tool to Effectuate Settlement in Cases Involving Minor Plaintiffs and/or Minor Beneficiaries

Cases involving catastrophic injuries to minors, whether through birth trauma, motor vehicle collision, or any other alleged mechanism of negligence, can carry extremely high exposure due to the effect the injuries may have on the minor during the rest of his or her life. Especially in cases where liability is in question, litigants should be   Continue Reading »

Using the Affordable Health Care Act to Mitigate Future Medical Damages

In personal injury cases, is there a defensible strategy to significantly reduce claims for future medical damages through application of the Affordable Care Act?  Time will certainly tell, but it does appear possible. In its simplest terms, the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) provides that all persons in the United States be afforded health insurance, regardless   Continue Reading »

Ransomware Attacks – Health Care Institutions an Emerging Target?

Several news media outlets are reporting a recent cyber-attack assault on Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, California.  According to authorities, the hospital was the victim of a cyber-attack on February 5 that locked the hospital out of its computer systems using ransomware to infect their network. According to reports in this case, the unknown   Continue Reading »

Discovery Depositions Are Not Available for Media Use During Pending Litigation.

As you may have heard, Pam Zekman of CBS Channel 2 has run a television segment relating to a pending lawsuit against Palos Community Hospital.  In the segment, plaintiff’s counsel, Jim Ball, is interviewed along with the parents of a child that suffered brain damage after the hospital allegedly failed to properly treat the mother’s   Continue Reading »

Electronic Monitoring Comes to Illinois Nursing Homes

Lights! Camera! Electronic monitoring comes to Illinois nursing homes in 2016.  Shareholder Lynn M. Reid outlines the issues in a recent blog post.

Illinois Supreme Court Rejects Employee’s Direct Action Against Employer for Claimed Asbestos Related Illness

In a much anticipated opinion, on November 4, 2015 the Illinois Supreme Court found that the provisions of Illinois’ Workers’ Compensation Act and the Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act (“the Acts”) barred an employee from bringing a direct civil action against his employer for injuries allegedly caused by exposure to asbestos. In Folta v. Ferro Engineering,   Continue Reading »

Cook County Ruling Expands Petrillo. Defense Counsel in a Pickle?

Given the serious penalties courts have imposed due to even trivial perceived Petrillo violations, all defense counsel should be on high alert in the wake of a recent Cook County ruling further expanding the rule in Petrillo v. Syntex Laboratories. William McVisk explains here.

The Continuing Controversy Over Custody Rights to Frozen Embryos in Illinois

As assisted reproduction technology continues to outpace the law intended to regulate it, the Illinois courts are faced, for the first time, with the question of which gamete donor has superior custodial rights over surplus frozen embryos resulting from the in vitro fertilization process.  William G. Beatty’s article, discussing the Szafranski case, presently before the   Continue Reading »

Making Hotels Safer For Their Guests

Hotel guests have high expectations of luxury with respect to the services and products they receive during their stay at a hotel.  In particular, they have high expectations about the quality of their room and the customer service provided to them.  Hotel guests also expect excellent hotel safety and security.  But no matter how luxurious   Continue Reading »

First District Illinois Appellate Court Allows For Direct Common-Law Action Against Employer For Asbestos-Related Disease

On June 27, 2014, in a case of first impression, the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, delivered a decision allowing an employee to sue his employer outside of the Workers’ Compensation Act and the Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act (“the Acts”) where the employee first learned of his injury after the expiration of the statute of   Continue Reading »

Self-Insured Retentions and High Deductibles: Their Impact on Insurers and Policyholders

In the current economic climate, first-dollar coverage has become a luxury that many commercial insureds can no longer afford. Although policies with large self-insured retentions and deductibles have always been available, they were frequently overlooked in the past when bottom lines were healthier and insurance premium costs were subject to less scrutiny. As more insureds   Continue Reading »

ILLINOIS APPELLATE COURT REVERSES TRIAL COURT: MADISON COUNTY ASBESTOS CASE DOES NOT BELONG IN ILLINOIS

In a decision that may have a significant impact upon asbestos litigation in Madison County, the Illinois Fifth District Appellate Court has recently overturned a trial court ruling against defendant’s Motion to Dismiss pursuant to the doctrine of forum non conveniens.  While there have been similar decisions in the Fifth District in the past, no   Continue Reading »

JURISDICTION OVER A FOREIGN DEFENDANT -- RECENT ILLINOIS DECISION WILL IMPACT COMPONENT PARTS MANUFACTURERS

I.  Synopsis Illinois Supreme Court in Russell v. SNFA, 2013 IL 113909 (April 18, 2013) finds specific jurisdiction over a foreign component part manufacturer, finding that its products were part of the marketing plan of the seller’s product.  What does this mean for component part manufacturers that have integrated marketing plans with the seller’s product?   Continue Reading »

PRODUCT LIABILITY CASE EVALUATION AND TRIAL STRATEGY CONSIDERATIONS - Part Three

In the final installment of his in-depth analysis of case evaluation and trial strategy, Johnson & Bell Shareholder, Charles P. Rantis, focuses on the sole proximate cause argument in product liability cases – withdrawing all affirmative defenses and trying the case on damages alone. (Read Part One and Part Two) Trial Strategy: Withdrawal of Affirmative Defenses   Continue Reading »

ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT RULES THAT TCPA DAMAGES ARE INSURABLE

Since Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), 47 USC §227(b), courts have struggled to determine the extent to which insurance coverage is available for damages awarded under the act.  In Standard Mutual Ins. Co. v. Lay, 2013 IL 114617 (May 23, 2013), the Illinois Supreme Court removed any doubts that such damages are   Continue Reading »

PRODUCT LIABILITY CASE EVALUATION AND TRIAL STRATEGY CONSIDERATIONS – Part Two

Following up his analysis of case evaluation and trial strategy in Part One of his three-part series, Johnson & Bell Shareholder, Charles P. Rantis, explores the potential benefits and challenges of using plaintiff’s contributory fault defenses in product liability cases. (Part Three) Trial Strategy: Defense Based on Plaintiff’s Contributory Fault The extent to which plaintiff’s   Continue Reading »

A COOK COUNTY FIRST MUNICIPAL DEPARTMENT PRIMER

Many lawyers have found themselves slightly confused while appearing in courtroom 1501 of the Richard M. Daley Center for the first time.  Courtroom 1501 is responsible for handling all First District Municipal cases in which a jury demand has been filed. These cases are typically personal injury lawsuits arising from motor vehicle accidents.  Unlike the   Continue Reading »

HOSPITALS’ LIABILITIES/RESPONSIBILITIES WHEN RESPONDING TO LAW ENFORCEMENT’S REQUEST FOR INFORMATION

Imagine that you are a hospital administrator.  Law enforcement shows up at the hospital with a grand jury subpoena or a request of some kind for information.  Can you comply? In many jurisdictions, if protected medical information is sought, when faced with a grand jury subpoena, the answer is no, despite penalties that may arise   Continue Reading »

GOV. QUINN SIGNS BILL FOR HIGHER FEES IN MED MAL CASES

On Jan. 18, 2013, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed into legislation House Bill 5151, which increases the amount that plaintiff’s attorneys in medical malpractice cases can collect, while eradicating the right of these attorneys to petition trial courts for enhanced fees in certain cases. With the signing of the bill into law, plaintiff’s attorneys will   Continue Reading »

THE ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT CLARIFIES THE APPLICATION OF ARBITRATION AGREEMENTS IN NURSING HOME CONTRACTS

On September 20, 2012, the Illinois Supreme Court filed its opinion in the Carter v. SSC Odin Operating Co. case, 2012 IL 113204. In the case, the Court revisited the issue of whether arbitration agreements contained within nursing home contracts are enforceable. The Court upheld the general applicability of such agreements within the nursing home context but   Continue Reading »

ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT PROVIDES (SOME) CLARITY ON START OF STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR LOSSES BY INVESTORS

Determining the start date for any statute of limitations can be difficult.  This is particularly true in cases of alleged financial exploitation or fraud.  In such cases, the damages themselves can often be difficult to determine, let alone pinpointing the moment in time when they began.  In the recentKhan v. Deutsche Bank AG decision, the Supreme   Continue Reading »

THE CHALLENGES OF LEGACY EQUIPMENT

American and European product manufacturers face many challenges operating in the international marketplace.  Foremost is the product liability lawsuit, which can challenge a manufacturer’s every decision, from the design and development stage, through sale of the product, and even for an undefined period thereafter.  A manufacturer’s potential liability for legacy equipment, i.e., older or prior   Continue Reading »

INSURERS BEWARE: ILLINOIS' FIFTH DISTRICT SCRUTINIZES POLICY LIMIT SETTLEMENT ISSUES

On May 22, 2012, Illinois’ Fifth District issued an opinion that insurers across the state should take immediate notice.   The opinion, entered in Kirk v. Allstate Insurance Co., No. 5-10-0573 (Ill. App. 5th Dist. 2012), highlights the importance of securing proper releases which fully protect their insureds from personal liability in matters involving policy limit payments.   Continue Reading »

Product Liability Case Evaluation and Trial Strategy Considerations -- Part One

In the first of three installments of his in-depth analysis of case evaluation and trial strategy, Johnson & Bell Shareholder, Charles P. Rantis, explores the critical importance of weighing intangible factors of a given case.  He argues that these factors can impact defense counsel’s trial strategy and tactics as much as a mathematical methodology assessment of   Continue Reading »

"BAD FAITH": WHAT DOES IT MEAN? AN OVERVIEW OF BAD FAITH/FAILURE TO SETTLE THIRD PARTY ACTIONS UNDER ILLINOIS LAW

You are an insurance claims representative attending a pre-trial settlement conference in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The plaintiff’s attorney makes a demand that is within policy limits, but you consider it unreasonable and not consistent with the nature of the injury claimed. You make an offer that is more consistent with your assessment of the   Continue Reading »

PRODUCT MANUFACTURERS' POTENTIAL LIABILITY FOR USERS' ALTERATIONS OF THE PRODUCT

Under Illinois law, a manufacturer’s liability for an allegedly defective product is determined by the condition of the product at the time that it left the manufacturer’s possession and control. Augenstine v. Dico Co., 135 Ill.App.3d 273, 481 N.E.2d 1225 (1985). Defects existing in the product at the time it leaves the manufacturer’s possession and   Continue Reading »

RECENT NORTHERN DISTRICT DECISION IMPACTS CONFLICT OF INTEREST CASES IN ILLINOIS

When Does a Conflict of Interest Exist Between an Insurer and Its Insured Under Illinois Law? Under Illinois law, when a conflict of interest exists between an insurer and its insured, the insurer must decline to defend the insured and, instead of participating in the defense, the insurer must pay for independent counsel for the   Continue Reading »

THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT CONFIRMS THE REQUIREMENT FOR EXPERT TESTIMONY UNDER THE "CONSUMER EXPECTATIONS" TESTS

A recent opinion from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed a district court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of a defendant-manufacturer when the plaintiffs failed to present expert testimony in support of their design defect case, prosecuted under the “Consumer Expectations” test. In Show v. Ford Motor Co., 2011 U.S.   Continue Reading »

JOHNSON & BELL NEWS OF NOTE

Practice group co-chair and shareholder Kevin G. Owens recently presided as Chairman of the ALFA International Product Liability Practice Group at the group’s seminar in Nashville, Tennessee.  The program, “Is the Next Verse the Same as the First…or Has the Tune Changed,” presented a variety of timely topics, including Enforcement of Indemnity Agreements with Foreign   Continue Reading »

THE PECULIARITY AND RELEVANCE OF RESPONDENTS IN DISCOVERY

In recent years, plaintiff attorneys in medical malpractice lawsuits have increasingly utilized the statute allowing for respondent in discovery (RID).  735 ILCS 5/2-402 involves persons and entities designated as RIDs.  However, RIDs are not parties.  RIDs are identified in complaints and are required to participate in discovery, including answering written discovery and sitting for a   Continue Reading »

PROOF WITHOUT A "PROOF OF LOSS"

Any insurance policy you come across these days will contain a suit filing deadline, but in Illinois that deadline is more often than not tolled by section 143.1 of the Illinois Insurance Code.  215 ILCS 5/143.1 (West 2006).  Section 143.1 is a statutory restriction on contractual limitation provisions that was designed to prevent insurance companies   Continue Reading »

UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT DECISION ON FEDERAL PREEMPTION AIDS GENERIC DRUG MANUFACTURERS

On June 23, 2011, in a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court held that federal statutes and FDA regulations governing the labeling of generic drugs preempt state law tort claims against generic drug manufacturers for failure to provide adequate warning labels.  In Pliva, Inc., v. Mensing the court determined that it was impossible for   Continue Reading »

THE ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT EXAMINES THE RISK-UTILITY TEST IN DESIGN DEFECT CASES

A recent Illinois Supreme Court ruling of major significance examines the risk-utility test as a method of proof in product liability cases premised on a design-defect theory.  The holding in the case, which includes a rejection of a post-sale duty to warn, merits the special attention of the product liability defense bar. Jablonski v. Ford Motor   Continue Reading »

RECENT U.S. SUPREME COURT DECISIONS ON PERSONAL JURISDICTION BENEFIT FOREIGN PRODUCT MANUFACTURERS

The first step in any litigation involving a corporate defendant that is foreign to the selected forum is determining whether the court can exercise jurisdiction over the defendant.  There are two different types of personal jurisdiction that a court can exercise over a defendant – general and specific.  A state court may assert general jurisdiction   Continue Reading »

PRESSURE ULCERS: AVOIDABLE OR UNAVOIDABLE?

Skin breakdown or pressure ulcers are a common topic in geriatric litigation across the country.  These cases are not just found in the realm of nursing home litigation.  At an increasing rate, plaintiff’s attorneys are filing wound cases against anyone who may have cared for the wound which can include:  long term care facilities, assisted-   Continue Reading »

Nursing Home's Health Care Arbitration Agreement Held Invalid...

… But Door Left Open for Future Arbitration Agreements to be Upheld On Aug. 18, 2011, the Fifth District Court of Appeals held that the arbitration agreement at issue in this Illinois Nursing Home Care Act and Wrongful Death case was invalid as it lacked mutuality making it unenforceable.  However, the court left the door   Continue Reading »

FIRST DISTRICT REVISITS COOPERATION ISSUES IN RECENT THIRD PARTY LIABILITY CASE

Illinois’ First District in Founders Ins. Co. v. Shaikh, 405 Ill.App.3d (1st Dist. 2010) recently examined various issues and obligations surrounding the duty to cooperate in a third- party liability defense case.  Specifically, the Shaikh decision highlights the existence of dual cooperation obligations placed on the insurer and the insured, and provides a fairly detailed historical overview of   Continue Reading »

SEVENTH CIRCUIT BARS PLAINTIFFS LAST MINUTE CHANGE IN THEORY OF PRODUCTS CASE

In Aldridge v. Forest River, Inc., et al., 635 F.3rd 870 (2011), plaintiff filed a strict product liability lawsuit arising out of injuries allegedly sustained while the plaintiff was descending the steps of her recreational vehicle.  Throughout the course of the litigation, plaintiff had maintained that it was a step controller, installed on the vehicle, which   Continue Reading »

HEALTH PROFESSIONAL REPORTS UNDER 735 ILCS 5/2-622: FIRST DISTRICT APPELLATE COURT DECISION FURTHER CLARIFIES STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS IN CHRISTMAS V. DR. DONALD W. HUGAR, LTD., ET AL.

The much-publicized 2010 Illinois Supreme Court ruling in LeBron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital is most well-known for its impact on Illinois’ efforts at tort reform.  However, this decision also served to change, and in some critics’ minds further complicate, Illinois law on the issue of the requirements of 735 ILCS 5/2-622.  Recently, in an effort to further   Continue Reading »

"LEGACY" EQUIPMENT - WHAT IS THE MACHINE MANUFACTURER'S DUTY ONCE THE MACHINE LEAVES THE PLANT?

The answer to the question: “what is a product manufacturer’s duty” relative to its products once they leave the plant, is not one that is easily answered.  In Illinois, a manufacturer has no duty to issue post-sale warnings or to retrofit its products to remedy defects first discovered after a product has left its control.  To the   Continue Reading »

SUPREME COURT FURTHER ERODES FEDERAL PREEMPTION DOCTRINE

In the recent case of Williamson v. Mazda Motor of America, 562 U.S.__(2011), the United States Supreme Court has held that the 1989 version of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208 (FMVSS 208) giving vehicle manufacturers a choice to install either a lap belt or a lap and shoulder belt in a rear inner seat of a motor   Continue Reading »

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