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Supreme Court quick takes

Quick takes from Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions

Posted on July 15, 2010 by Chris Bonjean


Krywin v. The Chicago Transit Authority

By Jean M. Prendergast, Schuyler, Roche & Crisham, P.C Today, in a 5-2 decision, the Illinois Supreme Court in Krywin v. The Chicago Transit Authority, held that a common carrier’s duty to provide passengers with a safe place to alight must yield to the natural accumulation rule. Under that rule, a landowner has no duty to remove natural accumulations of ice, snow or water. The plaintiff-passenger had fallen as she exited a train onto a slippery CTA platform. The court affirmed the appellate court and reversed the passenger’s nearly $400,000 verdict. The court also held that the CTA had no duty to identify a safer place to exit the train.  The court reasoned that the passenger failed to meet her burden to prove the feasibility of requiring the CTA to discharge all passengers safely during inclement conditions. The court took judicial notice of the magnitude of the CTA’s operations and observed that “it would be impractical to place a burden on the CTA to evaluate its train platforms” every time a train enters a station. Justice Freeman, joined by Justice Kilbride, dissented, pointing out that the majority’s holding disregarded the Local Government and Governmental Employees’ Tort Immunity Act (“Act”), which codified the natural accumulation rule, but also specifically excluded the CTA from the Act’s protection.  In addition, the dissent maintained that the majority decision is inconsistent with the court’s prior adoption of the principles stated in Section 343 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, which recognized that landowners are in a superior position to protect their invitees.

Quick takes from today's Illinois Supreme Court opinions

Posted on June 24, 2010 by Chris Bonjean


People v. Boeckmann

By Kerry J. Bryson, Office of the State Appellate Defender These consolidated cases involved a constitutional challenge to Section 6-206(a)(43) of the Illinois Vehicle Code, the statutory provision which requires suspension of driving privileges for 90 days for any person receiving court supervision for unlawful consumption of alcohol under 21 years of age. The circuit court held that the statute, as applied, violated due process because a vehicle was not involved in the commission of the offense. The Supreme Court disagreed. The purpose of 6-206(a)(43) is to "promote the safe and legal operation and ownership of motor vehicles." Suspension of driving privileges bears a rational relationship to that purpose because "young people who have a driver's license and consume alcohol illegally may also drive after consuming alcohol regardless of whether a motor vehicle is involved." And, the suspension of driving privileges is a reasonable method of furthering the public interest in safe and legal operation of motor vehicles, despite the absence of a vehicle or any plan to drive. So, for persons under 21, it doesn't matter if a vehicle is involved in the commission of the offense of unlawful consumption of alcohol. It doesn't even matter if a person under 21 who commits the offense of unlawful consumption of alcohol contemplates driving or not.

Quick takes from today's Illinois Supreme Court opinions

Posted on June 4, 2010 by Chris Bonjean


ABN Amro Mortgage Group v. McGahan

By Tim Eaton, Shefsky & Froelich Ltd. With the increasing number of foreclosure actions on residential homes, the high court addressed a question that has been to date answered by the lower courts inconsistently  --  that is whether a lender must name a personal representative for a deceased borrower in a mortgage foreclosure proceeding. The trial court found that a foreclosure proceeding was a quasi-in-rem proceeding requiring the mortgagee (borrower) to be a party, or if the borrower is deceased, a personal representative must be named in the action. The lender argued the proceeding was against the property only (in-rem), so no borrower was necessary. The appellate court agreed with the lender. The Supreme Court acknowledged that Illinois courts have ruled inconsistently in how these proceedings have been classified. But it resolved the issue in favor of the borrower since it found the object of the foreclosure is to enforce an obligation created by a contract between the lender and borrower, and therefore the borrower, or personal representative, becomes a necessary party. According to the parties’ briefs below, the resolution of this question will govern “literally thousands of current and future cases.” What is noteworthy about this appeal, is that there was no party bringing the appeal to the Supreme Court. The PLA was filed by an amicus, CVLS, a legal services group that represents indigent borrowers in foreclosure proceedings. Nevertheless, the high court allowed the petition and made no mention of the standing of the amicus in the opinion even though the issue had been raised earlier in prior motion practice.

Quick take on today's modified Illinois Supreme Court opinion

Posted on May 24, 2010 by Chris Bonjean


People v. Givens

By Kerry J. Bryson, Office of the State Appellate Defender Last month, the Supreme Court decided Givens, concluding that it was error for the appellate court to, sua sponte, decide an issue not argued or briefed by the parties in the appellate court. In so holding, the Court simply vacated the decision of the appellate court and affirmed the circuit court. Defendant sought rehearing, arguing that the Supreme Court should remand the case back to the appellate court for consideration of a chain-of-custody issue which the parties had briefed and argued, but the appellate court had not reached because the appellate court considered the "sua sponte issue" to be dispositive of the outcome on appeal. The Supreme Court modified the relief and remanded the case to the appellate court to consider the chain-of-custody issue. Case summary Supreme Court opinion 107322

Quick takes on Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions

Posted on May 20, 2010 by Chris Bonjean


Baumgartner v. Baumgartner

By Celia G. Gamrath, Partner, Schiller DuCanto & Fleck LLP In Baumgartner v. Baumgartner, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the incarceration of a 20-year-old child is not a self-emancipating event that automatically terminates a parent's obligation to contribute to a child's postsecondary education expenses. Though Baumgartner decides only the question of incarceration, the Court's decision affects a broader range of cases in which a child marries or enters the armed forces. For parents, here's the rub: Self-emancipation for support purposes automatically occurs when a child reaches the age of majority; however, it does not necessarily occur if a child is convicted of a felony and incarcerated, gets married or joins the military. Under these scenarios, the Circuit Court must consider all relevant facts and decide whether the colossal event has the effect of emancipating the child and constitutes an abandonment of any pursuit of a higher education. A "lengthy incarceration is simply one of many situations in which a minor may be found to be emancipated." Case summary Supreme Court opinion 109047


Founders Ins. Co v. Munoz

By Michael T. Reagan, Herbolsheimer Lannon Henson Duncan and Reagan PC Founders Ins. Co v.

Quick takes on today's Illinois Supreme Court opinions

Posted on April 15, 2010 by Chris Bonjean


Carter v. SSC Odin Operating Company

By Michael T. Reagan, Herbolsheimer Lannon Henson Duncan and Reagan PC In Carter v. SSC Odin Operating Company, the high court ruled that the sections of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act voiding a resident's waiver of the right to sue or to have a jury trial were ineffective to negate preemption by the Federal Arbitration Act. Though Carter was decided within the narrow confines of nursing-home litigation, its logic could affect a much broader range of preemption cases. For appellate lawyers, here's an interesting procedure point: the court said it was exercising jurisdiction pursuant to its supervisory authority. That was probably necessary because more than 21 days had expired after an initial denial of the petition for leave to appeal, during which time the Supreme Court of the United States had denied certiorari, and the Second District had issued a conflicting opinion. Case summary Supreme Court opinion 106511

Slovinski v. Elliot

By Jean M. Prendergast, Schuyler, Roche & Crisham, P.C Civil practitioners will be wise to consider carefully Slovinsky v. Elliot, in which the Court refined the standard for reviewing remittitur and punitive damage awards, especially where the trial judge makes no specific findings. In this defamation per se case, the trial court reduced a $2 million jury award for punitive damages to $1 million.