On June 29, 2018, a divided panel of First District Appellate Court issued an opinion providing valuable guidance to defense practitioners on the scope of the sole proximate cause defense in Illinois tort litigation, holding that the sole proximate cause defense and jury instruction is available even where the defendant argues more than one nonparty was the sole proximate cause of a plaintiff’s injury. See Rene Douglas, et al. v. Arlington Park Racecourse, LLC, et al., 2018 IL App (1st) 162962, available here (PDF opens in a new window).
Douglas involved a professional jockey, Rene Douglas, who sought compensation for paralysis resulting from a fall he suffered during a horserace at Arlington Park racecourse in 2009. Douglas and his wife sued the racetrack (Arlington), its owner (Churchill Downs), and both the manufacturer and distributor of the track’s synthetic surface. Plaintiffs settled with all parties except Arlington and Churchill Downs prior to trial.