The Illinois Supreme Court held on September 22, 2016 in Kakos v. Butler, 2016 IL 120377, that the right to trial by jury includes the right to demand a 12-member jury. The change to Illinois’ jury system to reduce the size of juries in civil cases was proposed by the plaintiffs’ bar and had passed the Illinois legislature without much real debate in the waning days of former Gov. Patrick J. Quinn’s time in office, and became effective June 1, 2015. The Court held PA 98-1132 which reduced civil juries to only six members, and the statute it amended, 735 ILCS 5/2-1105(b), was facially unconstitutional. Because the provision regarding jury size could not be severed from the Act, the Court held the entire Act invalid. The 5-0 decision was authored by Justice Garman, with Justices Thomas and Kilbride taking no part. Read More »
Articles under General
In a victory for the asbestos defense bar, Randy Smith of Matushek LLC secured summary judgment for Brand Insulations, Inc. in the case of Rex Hill (Morgan County, Illinois, Case No. 13 L 21). Randy convinced Judge Christopher R. Reif to reject a novel attempt by the plaintiff to circumvent and nullify the effect of Folta v. Ferro Engineering by pursuing claims of secondary exposure between coworkers. Read More »
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on November 4, 2015 granted our motion to dismiss defendant Blain Supply, Inc. for lack of personal jurisdiction. This is a significant victory not only for our client, but for the entire defense bar. We argued that the court lacked general jurisdiction under Daimler AG v. Bauman because Blain Supply was a Wisconsin corporation with its principal place of business in Wisconsin. In response to our motion, the plaintiffs had argued that Blain Supply consented to jurisdiction because it was registered to do business in Illinois and had an Illinois registered agent for service of process, and therefore could not avail itself of our due process argument. We replied that such an analysis was irrelevant post-Daimler and Judge Kocoras agreed with our position and ruled that the fact that a non-resident corporation that is merely registered to do business in Illinois and has a registered agent here does not subject that corporation to general jurisdiction in Illinois. Read More »
The Illinois Supreme Court has reversed the recent decision of the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, which had created unlimited tort liability for Illinois employers of asbestos plaintiffs. In Folta v. Ferro Engineering, 2015 IL 118070, released November 4, 2015, the Court held that it was the responsibility of the State Legislature, not the courts, to modify the language of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, and restored the exclusive remedy defense to Illinois employers of asbestos plaintiffs. Ed Matushek had joined in an amicus brief filed in the Supreme Court on behalf of three of our employer-clients and we are pleased to report that their cooperation contributed to our success in overturning a very dangerous decision by the appellate court that had adopted the reasoning of the Pennsylvania courts in Tooey. Read More »
In Swasey v. Asbestos Companies, et al (RG15758585, Cal. Super. Ct., Alameda County, Sept. 21, 2015), five defendants, Hennessy Industries, Inc. (brake lathe manufacturer), Maremont Corp. (brake lining manufacturer), I.B. Benedict Co. (brake supplier), Metalclad Insulation Co. (steam pipe insulation) and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., obtained a defense jury verdict in the Alameda County, California court. The plaintiff claimed that during his 50-year career he developed mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos fibers in automobile brakes and dust created from brake-grinding machines and construction materials. The evidence showed this was likely chrysotile asbestos. Read More »
In a victory for the asbestos defense bar, Randy Smith and Mike Martinez of Matushek Nilles LLC secured summary judgment for Brand Insulations, Inc. in the case of Rex Hill (Morgan County, Illinois; Case No. 13 L 21). Randy and Mike convinced Judge Christopher R. Reif to reject a novel attempt by the plaintiff to circumvent and nullify the effect of Folta v. Ferro Engineering by pursuing claims of secondary exposure between coworkers. Read More »
Dane County, Wisconsin Judge James R. Troupis recently ruled in favor of the motions drafted by Mike Martinez on behalf of Special Electric Company, Inc. and John Erato, its former President, and entered summary judgment in favor of these defendants. The court agreed with our argument that Erato’s resignation as president did not breach any duty owed to the plaintiffs, and that the statute of limitations barred any claim against Erato for a breach of fiduciary duty. We also persuaded the court that because Special Electric was dissolved by the State of Wisconsin on May 8, 2014, the court did not have the authority to reinstate the company. To do so would ignore the authority granted by the legislature to the Department of Financial Institutions as well as the Business Corporations Act. Alternatively, because Mr. Erato properly resigned, the court found that no one remained at Special Electric to be ordered to reinstate the company. Read More »
Governor Quinn signed Senate Bill 1912 (Public Act 98-0548) into law on August 26, 2013. The law (codified at 735 ILCS 5/2-2301) applies to all personal injury, property damage, wrongful death or other tort actions involving a claim for money damages, and requires that a settling defendant pay all sums due to the plaintiff within 30 days of the plaintiff’s tender of a release, which the defendant must tender to the plaintiff within 14 days of written confirmation of the settlement. If a settling defendant does not make full payment to the plaintiff within 30 days of the plaintiff’s tender of the release, then after a hearing, judgment shall be entered against the defendant for the amount set forth in the executed release, plus any costs incurred in obtaining the judgment and interest at the rate specified under Section 2-1303 of the Illinois Code (currently 9.0%). This may prove especially problematic to a defendant if Medicare liens remain unsatisfied.
Judge Maddux granted our motion to dismiss hundreds of claims against Sprinkmann Insulation based on the lack of corporate successor liability for the torts of Sprinkmann Sons, whose assets had been purchased by our client. The Court flatly rejected the opinions of the plaintiffs’ expert that Sprinkmann Insulation, Inc. is a continuation or alter ego of Sprinkmann Sons Corp. of Illinois. This was an interesting attempt by the plaintiffs’ attorneys to reach the remaining insurance assets of the seller, a former asbestos insulation contractor, despite our earlier success in terminating litigation based on a corporate dissolution argument. If Judge Maddux had agreed with the plaintiffs, the effect of such a ruling would have been that the insurers of Sprinkmann Sons have unlimited asbestos liability and would be required to exhaust all policy limits, even though there was no bankruptcy of the insured.