Illinois Supreme Court Civil Issues Pending: Tort Law

[UPDATED THROUGH May 13, 2014]

Bruns v. The City of Centralia, Illinois

Supreme Court Case Number: 116998

Appellate Court: Fifth District

Appellate Court Case Number: 5-13-0094

Issue Presented: Is there a "distraction" exception to the open-and-obvious perils rule, and if so, how broad is the exception?

Detailed summary of facts and lower court opinions



The Estate of Perry C. Powell v. John C. Wunsch, P.C.

Supreme Court Case Number: 115997

Appellate Court: First District, Third Division

Appellate Court Case Number: 1-12-1854

Issue Presented: Does the lawyer who brings a wrongful death action owe a duty of care to the next of kin, or only to the estate?

Detailed summary of facts and lower court opinions




Goldfine v. Barack, Ferrazzano Kirschbaum and Perlman

Supreme Court Case Number: 116362

Appellate Court: First District, Sixth Division

Appellate Court Case Number: 1-11-1779

Issue Presented: Are interest and attorneys' fees available as damages in a legal malpractice action?

Detailed summary of facts and lower court opinions



Howell v. Dunaway

Supreme Court Case Numbers: 110199, 110200

Appellate Court: Fifth District

Appellate Court Case Number: 5-09-0071, 5-09-0072

Issue Presented: Is a hospital’s statutory lien for services, filed pursuant to the Health Care Services Lien Act, 770 ILCS 23/1, subject to a reduction under the common fund doctrine for attorney fees incurred by the injured plaintiff?

Appellate Court Opinion Summary: Both plaintiffs were injured in motor vehicle accidents, and sued the tortfeasors. The hospitals filed liens against any recovery pursuant to the Health Care Services Lien Act, 770 ILCS 23/1. After settling the personal injury actions, the plaintiffs filed petitions to adjudicate the liens, seeking to apply a one-third reduction in the amount of the liens to account for attorney fees incurred. The Circuit Court agreed with plaintiffs, applied the common fund reduction, and entered judgment, and the hospitals appealed. On appeal, the hospitals argued that the common fund rule was inapplicable to liens under the Act pursuant to the Supreme Court’s decision in Maynard v. Parker, 75 Ill.2d 73 (1979), on the grounds that plaintiffs’ debt to the hospitals was not dependent on the creation of the fund. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment, holding that the Supreme Court had expanded the common fund rule to lienholder hospitals in a later decision, Bishop v. Burgard, 198 Ill.2d 495 (2002).

Citations to Opinion: 924 N.E.2d 1190, 338 Ill. Dec. 664


Nationwide Financial, L.P. v. Pobuda

Supreme Court Case Number: 116717

Appellate Court: First District, Fourth Division

Appellate Court Case Number: 1-12-2540

Issue Presented: Can a plaintiff plead a cause of action for prescriptive easement without pleading exclusive use of the disputed property?

Summary: The defendants use a strip of plaintiff's property for access to a nearby road in Barrington Hills. In May 2009, plaintiff demanded that the defendants cease using the strip of land, or pay a rental fee for continued use. When the defendants refused to do so, the plaintiff filed a complaint for declaratory judgment, alleging trespass. The defendants counterclaimed for declaratory judgment of a prescriptive easement. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The circuit court granted plaintiff's motion and denied defendants' motion, holding that since the defendants had failed to plead or prove exclusive use of the strip of land, they had failed to plead a claim for prescriptive easement. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Appellate Court concluded that the outcome of the case was determined by Catholic Bishop of Chicago v. Chicago Title and Trust Company. There, the Court held that exclusivity was a necessary element of a prescriptive easement. The Court found that this was so because a requirement of exclusivity encouraged a claimant to exclude a landowner, giving the landowner notice of the adverse claim. Because defendants failed to plead exclusive use, their claim for prescriptive easement necessarily failed, the court held.


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