[UPDATED THROUGH September 12, 2016]
Moon v. Rhode
Supreme Court Case Number: 119572
Appellate Court: Third District
Appellate Court Case Number:3-13-0613
Issue Presented: Does the discovery rule apply to the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims?
Murphy-Hylton v. Lieberman Management Services, Inc.
Supreme Court Case Number: 120394
Appellate Court: First District, First Division
Appellate Court Case Number: 1-14-2804
Issue Presented: Does the partial immunity from negligence liability found in the Snow and Ice Removal Act apply to ice allegedly caused by purportedly negligent landscaping or maintenance?
Wardwell v. Union Pacific R.R. Co.
Supreme Court Case Number: 120438
Appellate Court: Fifth District
Appellate Court Case Number: 5-14-0461
Issue Presented: In an action under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, is evidence that a nonrailroad third party may have been the sole cause of injuries sustained by the plaintiff rendered inadmissible if the plaintiff produces some evidence by which the jury could permissibly conclude that the railroad was, to some degree, negligent?
Summary of Facts and Lower Court Holdings: Plaintiff sustained a severe back injury in a two-car collision while riding as a passenger in a vehicle driven by an agent/employee of his railroad employer. The vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by a nonrailroad third party. It was stipulated that the driver of that second vehicle was intoxicated at the time of the accident and had either blacked out or fallen asleep. The trial court denied motions in limine filed by plaintiff seeking to preclude evidence that the third party was the sole cause of plaintiff’s injuries. Subsequently, the jury returned a verdict for the defendant. The Court of Appeal reversed. The Court noted that a railroad employer is 100% liable for an employee’s injuries whenever the employer is to any degree negligent. The Court noted that plaintiff presented evidence that the driver of the vehicle he was in failed to comply with her driver training prior to switching lanes. According to the majority, once the plaintiff produced sufficient evidence by which the jury could find that the defendant employer was negligent, the possible negligence of third parties was rendered irrelevant and inadmissible. Justice Moore dissented. He noted that there was some evidence in the record that the plaintiff’s driver’s lane change had happened as much as twenty seconds before the crash. If the jury chose to believe such evidence, then the defendant employer was not in any degree responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries, and the jury was free to find that the nonrailroad third party was the sole cause of those injuries.
Carney v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.
Supreme Court Case Number: 118984
Appellate Court: First District, Division Four
Appellate Court Case Number: 1-13-0105
Issue Presented: Was there a genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment in an action for injuries sustained in a bridge removal regarding whether the railroad retained sufficient control over part of the work and whether it should have known of a dangerous condition on the premises and failed to warn the contractor?
Summary of Facts and Lower Court Holdings:Defendant agreed with a contractor to demolish and remove certain unused bridges. The agreement provided that all work to be performed by the contractor was to be completed to the railroad’s satisfaction and the acceptance of a railroad representative. The railroad retained the right to stop the work or make changes in the work, and to terminate the contract immediately if the contractor’s services were unsatisfactory. The contractor enlisted the assistance of a bridge demolition company as sub-contractor for the removal. The contractor had allegedly never removed a similar plate girder bridge. While the bridge was being removed, a beam snapped, and the western girder fell towards the east, severely injuring the plaintiff. The plaintiff resolved his claims against the subcontractor and contractor, but proceeded against the railroad. The railroad moved for summary judgment; the trial court initially denied the motion, but then granted reconsideration and granted summary judgment. The plaintiff then moved for reconsideration and the trial court reversed itself again. The railroad sought a supervisory order from the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court directed the court to vacate its most recent order and reinstate summary judgment for the railroad. The Court of Appeal reversed. The Court held that whether or not the defendant owed a duty to plaintiff depended on to what degree it controlled the work. The Court noted that the defendant retained the right to terminate the agreement, remove any employee or equipment, or makes changes in the dimensions of the job. Under the circumstances, there was a material issue of fact as to whether the defendant had sufficient control to create a duty. The Court further held that there was a material dispute of fact as to whether the defendant might be liable for negligent selection in connection with the contractor, given the contractor’s admission that it had never removed that kind of bridge before. Finally, the Court held that there was a material dispute of fact as to whether the defendant could be liable to plaintiff as a the owner of the land, given that there was some evidence that the fact that the floor plates extended well beyond the end of the bridge contributed to plaintiff’s injuries.