Articles Posted in Legal News

The City of Chicago is close to banning drivers from sending text messages while at the wheel, according to the Chicago Tribune. Drivers would also be banned from surfing the web. If caught, the driver would be fined $75, or $200 if involved in an accident.

Alderman Edward Burke is leading the way to get the law passed by the City Counsel. He believes that it would improve safety on the roads. Alderman Burke introduced the proposed text ban just days before the LA train crash, where the train’s engineer reportedly was texting just 22 seconds before the deadly accident.

Eight States have laws that ban texting while driving. Washington was the first state to ban it, and several other states are considering similar legislation, according to

David Abels & Associates, P.C. is currently acting as co-counsel with the firm of Hilfman, Martin & Barr P.C. in a lawsuit against the Archdiosese of Chicago relating to the sexual misconduct of Father Daniel McCormack. Last week the Court heard the Plaintiff’s Motion To File an Amended Complaint Seeking Punitive Damages against the defendants. This motion was argued by Bill Martin. The Honorable Jeffrey Lawrence denied the motion, but Judge Lawrence said that he would be willing to hear the motion again after the parties complete some discovery.

The Court focused on the information contained in the report of the Archdiocese’s consultant, Defenbaugh, and specifically commented on 1999 reports from Sister Mary Therese Cusack to the Archdiocese relating to improper conduct by McCormack. The court indicated that the allegations in the plaintiff’s motion may be sufficient to allow the plaintiff to pursue punitive damages, but that these allegations required additional legal evidence in the form of depositions or affidavits. Plaintiff’s counsel intends to take the depositions of Archdiocesan personnel and to resubmit this motion to the court.

Daniel McCormack has plead guilty in criminal court to abusing five boys. He is serving a five year prison sentence.
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The parents of a teen killed when a semi truck slammed into a CTA train station in Chicago have filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Cook County against the truck driver and trucking company, according to the Associated Press. The lawsuit alleges that the 64 year old truck driver was driving too fast for conditions, ran a red light, and failed to use his horn to warn of impact.

The driver, who is from Metamora, Michigan, received a traffic ticket for the April 25 accident, but no criminal charges have been filed.

The accident happened when the driver crashed his semi truck into the CTA Red Line train station at Cermak Road on the South Side during the evening rush hour. One other woman was killed and twenty one others were injured, according to the Chicago Tribune and various other news sources.

A Chicago truck driver who caused a rear end collision on a tollway in 2003 that resulted in the death of eight women was sentenced to four years in prison this past Thursday for reckless homiside, according to the Northwest Herald and several other news sources. The truck crash occurred in October, 2003, near the Marengo-Hampshire toll plaza on Interstate 90 in McHenry County, Illinois. The truck, driven by a 54 year old driver, struck a 25-seat bus in which the eight women were passengers from behind as the bus slowed for traffic.

At trial in November, 2007 McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather found the driver guilty of eight counts of reckless homicide and also failing to maintain his truck’s brakes. Crash scene investigators testified that the truck was at least going 60 mph when it collided with the bus. The accident also occurred in a 45-mph construction zone.

The eight women killed were from the Chicago area and were returning from a day-trip at a Rockford garden. The driver was taken into custody after sentencing, as he had been out of custody on a $40,000 bond. He will only have to serve 18 months of his 4 year sentence if he receives crdeit for good behavior.

On Friday two lawsuits were filed in Cook County, Illinois stemming from Wednesday’s SUV Accident that happened in South Suburban Crestwood that left fifteen people injured, according to the Southtown Star. One of the lawsuits was filed by an Oak Lawn couple.

The car vs. pedestrian accident happened around 11:45 a.m. at the Tri-State Auto Auction when a 2000 Range Rover sport-utility vehicle that was going on auction accelerated without warning, drove through a crowd inside the auction house, hit a minivan, exited the building, and then ran into a second crowd of people.

Robert Schutzenhofer, 61, is being represented by counsel and is still in critical condition with severe and life-threatening injuries. He is in intensive care unit at St. James Hospital in Olympia Fields, Illinois.

The Illinois State Police are reportedly investigating whether the vehicle had a mechanical problem. The auction driver was taken to the Crestwood Police Department for interview and it is unknown if any type of charges will be filed. Attorneys for Schutzenhofer plan on investigating both driver error and a mechanical problem as they move forward in the case, however they feel that a mechanical failure is not likely.
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A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the family of a Chicago Area woman who died from injuries sustained in a November 25, 2007 Arkansas bus crash, according to the Times-Herald of Forrest City, Arkansas. The bus was traveling from Chicago, Illinois to Dallas, Texas. The lawsuit was filed earlier this month in Brownsville, Texas by the victim’s husband from Plano, Illinois. She past away in a Memphis , Tennessee hospital on December 16, 2007 from injuries sustained in the bus crash. The lawsuit lists Dallas based Tornado Bus Co. and the driver of the bus as defendants.

Earlier this month the bus driver was arrested by the Arkansas State Police and charged with 4 counts of Reckless Homicide after toxicology reports from Tapia showed evidence of amphetamine use at the time of the bus crash.

A West Chicago, Illinois resident was also on the bus and died at the accident site. They were on a Tornado Bus Co. bus with 45 other people. The fatal motor vehicle collision happened on a rainy night on Interstate 40 in northern Arkansas when the bus crossed a median, hit a pickup truck, and then hit a larger commercial truck. Lopez, another passenger, and the driver of the pickup truck died on the scene.

U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the City of Chicago’s method of using cameras to ticket drivers who fail to obey red lights, according to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. Judge Gettlemam ruled that the plaintiffs complaint failed to state claims based on equal protection and substantive due process.

How does this ruling affect Chicago personal injury lawyers? I think the law could resolve a lot of disputed liability personal injury claims and lawsuits. A contested red light case is hard and problematic to prove up in court. It is a “he said, she said” case and you never know who a jury is going to believe.

Last month I settled a red light personal injury car accident case from a 2004 accident. The plaintiff and an independent witness said the plaintiff had the green light, but the defendant and a different independent witness said the defendant had the green light. I recommended that my client settle the case, as he only had a 50% chance of getting past the jury on the issue of liability. If this case happened in front of a traffic camera, I could have subpoenaed the City for the photos, and the case could have resolved years ago. Continue reading

Less than 2 months after a jury awarded the family of former Chicago Blackhawk Keith Magnuson 9.5 million in a wrongful death auto accident lawsuit, the at fault party, former NHL player Rob Ramage was sentenced to 4 years in prison. The case stems from a fatal drunk driving accident that killed the former Chicago Blackhawk in 2003. The two former NHL players were traveling from a funeral together outside of Toronto, Canada when the accident took place.

A judge in Ontario, Canada sentenced Ramage for impaired driving causing death, and banned him from driving for five years after his release. Ramage played 15 years in the NHL as a defenseman with eight teams, and was on Stanley Cup winners with the Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens.

Magnuson played in the NHL from 1969-1979, and all of his 589 career games were with the Chicago Blackhawks. He went to the Stanley Cup twice with the Hawks in 1971 and 1973, both times losing to the Montreal Canadiens. He was also captain of the Blackhawks for several years.

The Governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, has named Melissa Taylor Standridge to the Kansas Court of Appeals, citing her extensive litigation and court experience, as well as her involvement in the community and commitment to the children of Kansas. “Melissa’s years of experience with the judiciary and her work in private practice will be beneficial as she joins the Court of Appeals,” Sebelius said. “With strong ties to her community and a breadth of legal experience, I am confident Melissa will serve the people of Kansas well.”

There are only 13 Court of Appeals Judges in the State of Kansas. Standridge fills a new position created by the Legislature in 2007.

Melissa has practiced law for 14 years and has served as chambers counsel for U.S. Magistrate Judge David J. Waxse in Kansas City, KS, since October 1999. In the 8 years with Judge Waxse, Standridge has been responsible for analysis and resolution in hundreds of cases, and has written over 300 proposed opinions, activities which prepare her well for the duties of the Kansas Court of Appeals. Prior to that she practiced four years with Shook, Hardy & Bacon in Overland Park, Kansas. She also worked as chambers counsel to the Honorable Elmo Hunter in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri from 1993-1995.

The 3rd District Illinois Appellate Court has affirmed a Bureau County Jury Verdict in a premises liability case against the City of Princeton. The plaintiff was injured when he stepped into a depression on a sidewalk and fell on Main Street in Princeton, Illinois. The plaintiff introduced evidence of over $119,000 in medical bills to the jury. The jury returned a verdict of $170,800 for the plaintiff.

During trial, defense counsel attempted to introduce evidence that the bills were discounted down to $34,888.00 by Medicare. (If a hospital or doctor receive a Medicare payment that is less than the amount billed, the rest of the bill is wiped out by accepting payment from Medicare).

The Court barred the defense from introducing evidence that the bill was reduced to $34,888.00 under the collateral source rule. This rule stops a defendant from informing the jury that the plaintiff has insurance, as a jury may then improperly conclude that the plaintiff sustained no damages.

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