Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois
Cleeton v. SIU Healthcare, Inc.
When he was 17 years old, Donald incurred a cervical cord injury, which left him quadriplegic. To reduce Donald’s involuntary muscle spasms, Dr. Espinosa implanted a Medtronic SynchroMed II Infusion System, a programmable pump that delivered doses of baclofen into the intrathecal space of Donald’s spine. The pump was managed by SIU Neurology and required regular refills. A routine refill went wrong, resulting in holes in the pump. Donald died days later.In a wrongful death action, the appellate court affirmed the denial of the plaintiff’s motion under the Code of Civil Procedure, 735 ILCS 5/2-402, to convert a respondent in discovery (Dr. Bakir) to a defendant. Bakir, a pulmonary critical care specialist, was Donald’s supervising physician in the ICU.The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. The plaintiff attached a certificate of merit in which a doctor opined that, within a reasonable degree of medical certainty, Dr. Bakir deviated from the standard of care. The affidavit may not have stated the specific standard of care from which Dr. Bakir deviated, but it did provide the court with sufficient information about what Dr. Bakir failed to do based upon a reasonable degree of medical certainty—timely recognize that Donald suffered from baclofen withdrawal syndrome, timely order treatment, and timely administer that treatment. The trial court mistakenly required evidence that would establish more than a reasonable probability that the defendant could be liable. View "Cleeton v. SIU Healthcare, Inc." on Justia Law
Midwest Commercial Funding, LLC v. Kelly
Williams obtained a $4 million judgment against Kelly in March 2020 for his physical and sexual abuse of her when she was a minor. Midwest obtained a $3,484,420.70 judgment against Kelly in July 2020 for breach of a commercial real estate lease. Williams and Midwest each sought to satisfy their judgments through royalties Sony paid Kelly. Sony then held $1,544,333 in royalties due to Kelly. Williams sent via registered mail a citation to discover assets to Sony on August 17, 2020, return receipt requested. On August 19, 2020, Midwest e-mailed its citation to discover assets and also sent a copy through the regular mail. Midwest’s e-mail was directed to David Castagna, who was a member of Sony’s legal staff with whom Midwest had dealt on prior, unrelated matters. On August 24, 2020, Williams’s citation was delivered to Sony and Castagna acknowledged receipt of the email citation.The trial court found that Midwest’s lien was entitled to priority. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. Email service is not a recognized method for service of a citation to discover assets to a party that has not entered an appearance. Williams’s citation was entitled to priority because it was complete four days after she mailed it based on Illinois Supreme Court Rules. View "Midwest Commercial Funding, LLC v. Kelly" on Justia Law
Tims v. Black Horse Carriers, Inc.
Tims filed a class-action lawsuit against Black Horse, his former employer, alleging violations of the Biometric Information Privacy Act (740 ILCS 14/15(a)), concerning the retention and deletion of biometric information, and sections 15(b) and 15(d), concerning the consensual collection and disclosure of biometric identifiers and biometric information. The Cook County circuit court denied a motion to dismiss the complaint as untimely, reasoning that it was timely filed because the five-year limitations period (Code of Civil Procedure section 13-205) applied to the Act, which does not contain a limitations period. Tims subsequently amended his complaint to name an additional class representative. Black Horse moved to reconsider its motion to dismiss and to certify, for immediate appeal, the question of which limitations period controlled. The circuit court certified the question. The appellate court allowed the interlocutory appeal and held that the one-year limitations period (section 13-201) governs actions under section 15(c) and 15(d) of the Act and that the five-year limitations period governs actions under section 15(a), 15(b), and 15(e) of the Act.The Illinois Supreme Court held that the five-year default limitations period governs claims under the Act, noting the need to ensure certainty, predictability, and uniformity as to when the limitations period expires in each subsection. View "Tims v. Black Horse Carriers, Inc." on Justia Law
Duniver v. Clark Material Handling Co.
Duniver, lost his leg during a 2017 workplace accident. In 2019, Duniver filed a personal injury lawsuit seeking recovery from multiple defendants. Weeks later, Duniver filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection and failed to disclose the personal injury lawsuit, answering “no” when asked whether he was suing anyone. He then checked “[y]es” in response to a question asking if he had “Other contingent or unliquidated claims of every nature, including counterclaims of the debtor and rights to set off claims.” Duniver listed: Workman’s Comp. On another form, he checked “[y]es” in response to: “Within 1 year before you filed for bankruptcy, were you a party in any lawsuit, court action, or administrative proceeding,” A collections action filed against Duniver was listed, but the personal injury case was not included.The defendants argued judicial estoppel prohibited Duniver from pursuing his personal injury lawsuit and that Duniver lacked standing to sue them where the injury claim belonged to the bankruptcy estate. Duniver then filed amended bankruptcy schedules disclosing his personal injury case. The bankruptcy case was dismissed. The circuit court granted the defendants summary judgment, finding Duniver “blatantly deceived” the bankruptcy trustee and that any claim would have to be pursued on behalf of the bankruptcy estate. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed. Duniver had standing and the evidence failed to show an intent to deceive or mislead. View "Duniver v. Clark Material Handling Co." on Justia Law
Channon v. Westward Management, Inc.
The Condominium Property Act requires condominium unit sellers to obtain specific disclosure documents from the Association or its agent before a sale and to provide them to potential buyers on request. After entering into a standard sales contract with a potential buyer who requested those disclosures, Channon obtained them from Westward, a management agent hired by the Association’s board of managers. Westward charged $245 for the documents. Channon filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging that Westward violated section 22.1 of the Act by charging unreasonable fees for the statutorily required documents and violated the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.In response to a certified question, the Illinois Supreme Court held that section 22.1 does not provide an implied cause of action in favor of a condominium unit seller against a property manager, as an agent of an association or board of directors, based on allegations that the manager charged excessive fees for the production of information required to be disclosed under that statute. The standard for a court to imply a private right of action in a statute is quite high. That extraordinary step should be taken only when it is clearly needed to advance the statutory purpose and when the statute would “be ineffective, as a practical matter, unless a private right of action were implied.” View "Channon v. Westward Management, Inc." on Justia Law
Midwest Sanitary Service, Inc. v. Sandberg, Phoenix & Von Gontard, P.C.
Crane filed a complaint for retaliatory discharge, alleging that his employment with Midwest was terminated after he reported numerous health and safety violations to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Crane was awarded $160,000 in compensatory damages and $625,000 in punitive damages. The appellate court affirmed. After losing the underlying action and paying damages to its former employee, Midwest filed a legal malpractice complaint against its attorneys and the Sandberg law firm, alleging that the attorneys failed to list all witnesses intended to be called at trial in compliance with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 213(f), resulting in six defense witnesses being barred from testifying, and several other errors.The circuit court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss but certified a question for immediate appeal: Does Illinois’ public policy on punitive damages and/or the statutory prohibition on punitive damages [in legal malpractice actions, 735 ILCS 5/2-1115] bar recovery of incurred punitive damages in a legal malpractice case where the client alleges that, but for the attorney's negligence in the underlying case, the jury in the underlying case would have returned a verdict awarding either no punitive damages or punitive damages in a lesser sum?” The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court answered the question in the negative and affirmed the judgment. View "Midwest Sanitary Service, Inc. v. Sandberg, Phoenix & Von Gontard, P.C." on Justia Law
Alvarez v. $59,914 United States Currency
Pursuant to the Drug Asset Forfeiture Procedure Act, 725 ILCS 150/1, the state initiated forfeiture proceedings against currency totaling $223,743 that was seized from a van driven by Tyler, but owned by Salaam, following a traffic stop. The forfeiture complaint alleged that there was probable cause to believe that the currency was furnished or intended to be furnished in exchange for a controlled substance. The state unsuccessfully attempted to serve Tyler with notice of the forfeiture proceedings by mail, before serving notice by publication. No one filed a claim to the currency. The circuit court entered a default judgment of forfeiture. More than two years later, Salaam moved to vacate, arguing that the judgment was void because he was not served with notice. The circuit court denied the motion, finding that it had in rem jurisdiction over the currency; that notice was properly given to the driver, as the “owner or interest holder” of the currency; and that Salaam was not entitled to notice because he was not an “owner or interest holder.” The appellate court affirmed,The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. The circuit court had subject matter jurisdiction of the case under the Forfeiture Act and had in rem jurisdiction over the seized currency, so any failure to comply with statutory notice rendered its judgment voidable, not void. Any challenge to that order had to be filed within two years of its entry. Salaam’s motion was not timely. View "Alvarez v. $59,914 United States Currency" on Justia Law
Dent v. Constellation NewEnergy, Inc.
Dent and RLD (Petitioners) had several supply and marketing contracts with energy companies (Respondents). Respondents terminated the Petitioners' at-will consulting agreements. Petitioners filed an Illinois Supreme Court Rule 224 petition seeking disclosure from Respondents of the names and addresses of three unidentified individuals who might be responsible in damages to Petitioners, alleging that those individuals publicized false and defamatory statements about Dent that caused respondents to terminate their contractual relationships. Petitioners alleged that the unnamed individuals accused Dent of drunken conduct and of sexual misconduct. The appellate court reversed the dismissal of the petition, stating that the circuit court abused its discretion when it sua sponte dismissed the petition based upon its determination that Petitioners knew the identity of Respondents and their attorneys; Respondents and their attorneys were not potential defendants responsible in damages for defamation or breach of contract.The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the dismissal. The appellate court erred in holding that a section 2-615 motion to dismiss cannot consider affirmative defenses apparent on the face of the petition, such as the existence of qualified privilege. The existence of qualified privilege on the part of the unidentified individuals was apparent from the face of the petition. Respondents, having raised nothing more than a conclusory denial, failed to sufficiently allege abuse of that privilege. View "Dent v. Constellation NewEnergy, Inc." on Justia Law
Suburban Real Estate Services, Inc. v. Carlson
In 2006, Suburban, owned by Barus, and ROC formed ROC/Suburban LLC, which acted as a vendor to Suburban. In 2010, Barus retained attorney Carlson for legal advice in unwinding that relationship. ROC sued Suburban, alleging breach of fiduciary duty. The Gaspero Law Firm defended Suburban in the ROC litigation. In June 2015, the court entered judgment for ROC and ordered Suburban to pay 50% of the fair value of the assets that Barus had improperly transferred out of ROC/Suburban.In May 2016, Barus and Suburban filed a legal malpractice action against Carlson, who allegedly recommended or approved the self-help actions that resulted in the breach of fiduciary duties. The circuit court held that the claim was barred by the two-year statute of limitations (735 ILCS 5/13- 214.3(b)) because the injury began when the plaintiffs retained new counsel and that the plaintiffs knew they were injured in 2013 at the latest when the judge stated that Carlson had committed malpractice.The appellate court reversed; the Illinois Supreme Court agreed. The plaintiffs did not suffer a realized injury until the court found a breach of fiduciary duty and entered a judgment against them. Although plaintiffs may have been alerted in 2013 that counsel misadvised them, the possibility of damages was not actionable until the ROC litigation ended and plaintiffs became obligated to pay damages as a result of Carlson’s advice. View "Suburban Real Estate Services, Inc. v. Carlson" on Justia Law
PNC Bank, National Association v. Kusmierz
In 2011, PNC filed a foreclosure complaint against Kusmierz. PNC retained Metro to serve the summons. Magida, a Metro employee, attempted to serve Kusmierz at the subject Lombard address but the property was a vacant lot. Magida served Kusmierz in Palatine. Days later, PNC obtained the appointment of Metro as a special process server. PNC then filed affidavits of service. Kusmierz failed to appear. On February 28, 2012, the court entered an order of default and a judgment of foreclosure and sale. PNC complied with all statutory notice requirements, and the property was sold at a judicial sale back to PNC. The court confirmed the judicial sale. Notices of the proceedings were mailed to the Palatine address. In 2013, third parties purchased the property from PNC for $24,000 and constructed a home on the property with mortgage loans totaling $292,650.In 2018, more than seven years after being served with the foreclosure complaint and summons, Kusmierz sought relief from void judgments under 735 ILCS 5/2-1401(f), alleging improper service because the process server was not appointed by the court at the time of service, in violation of section 2-202(a). The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint, applying both laches and the bona fide purchaser protections in section 2-1401(e) of the Code of Civil Procedure. View "PNC Bank, National Association v. Kusmierz" on Justia Law