Justia Illinois Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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Lewis was charged with involuntary sexual servitude of a minor (720 ILCS 5/10-9(c)(2)), traveling to meet a minor (11- 26(a)), and grooming (i11-25(a)). He asserted the defense of entrapment. Convicted, he was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. The appellate court reversed the conviction, holding that defense counsel’s cumulative errors rendered the proceeding unreliable under Strickland v. Washington.The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the remand for a new trial. Defense counsel was ineffective in presenting his entrapment defense where he failed to object to the circuit court’s responses to two jury notes regarding the legal definition of “predisposed,” object to the prosecutor’s closing argument mischaracterizing the entrapment defense and the parties’ relevant burdens of proof, and present defendant’s lack of a criminal record to the jury. View "People v. Lewis" on Justia Law

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Johnson suffers from severe, permanent nerve damage, which he alleges was caused by a negligently performed hip replacement surgery. He sued his surgeon, Dr. Armstrong, citing specific negligence and the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. He also brought a res ipsa loquitur claim against a surgical technician who participated in the surgery. Johnson provided one expert witness, also a surgeon, to establish the elements of res ipsa loquitur. The court granted the technician summary judgment, stating that Johnson failed to present an expert witness to establish the standard of care for a technician, that the control element of res ipsa loquitur was not met, and that there was no evidence of negligence on the technician’s part. The court subsequently granted Armstrong summary judgment on the res ipsa loquitur count, leaving the count of specific negligence remaining. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court dismissed and vacated in part. The effect of the summary judgment in favor of Armstrong is to preclude Johnson from proving that Armstrong was negligent under the unique proofs of res ipsa loquitur, but the claim for negligence remains outstanding. The summary judgment order with respect to Armstrong was not a final judgment; the appellate court lacked jurisdiction. With respect to the other defendants, the elements of res ipsa loquitur were met at the time of the decision; no further expert testimony on the standard of care was required. Given that the Armstrong summary judgment was pronounced after the technician was orally dismissed from the res ipsa loquitur count, the circuit court was directed to reconsider that order in light of this opinion. View "Johnson v. Armstrong" on Justia Law

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Leib was convicted of being a child sex offender in a school zone when persons under the age of 18 were present in the building or on the grounds, 720 ILCS 5/11-9.3(a), and was sentenced to one year in prison. He argued that the prosecution failed to establish that he was on “real property comprising any school” and that, even if the property at issue was properly considered “real property comprising any school,” the state failed to establish that Leib knew he was on such property. Leib had been present at a festival in a parking lot for a church and school.The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. There is evidence that the parking lot is used for school purposes and is owned by the parish, which owned the church and school, and that the church and school were connected to each other and considered to be synonymous. The layout of the festival itself indicates Leib was aware of a substantial probability that the parking lot is located on school grounds. View "People v. Leib" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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In 2015, Aljohani was indicted on five counts of first-degree murder in connection with the stabbing death of Talal and one count of armed robbery. The circuit court denied a motion to suppress evidence. The court concluded that the officers’ entry into an apartment fell “squarely within the community caretaking function.” In 2018, Aljohani was convicted and sentenced to 23 years in prison. The appellate court affirmed, citing the emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement.The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, finding that the evidence was sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The police officers had reasonable grounds to believe an emergency existed, having responded to a 911 call about a suspected battery in progress and spoken to a witness, who was “adamant” that someone was seriously hurt. The officers saw an apartment door “wide open,” received no response, and found the victim unresponsive on a bed. The totality of the circumstances at the time of entry provided an objective, reasonable basis for believing someone was injured inside the apartment. View "People v. Aljohani" on Justia Law

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The plaintiffs own property on the non-navigable Mazon River in Grundy County and want to kayak on the River through the defendants' neighboring properties. They sought a declaration that they had the right as riparian owners to kayak along the entire length of the Mazon River, including through property owned by the defendants, “f[r]ee and clear from any claim of trespass.” The Mazon River is 28 miles long and is a tributary of the Illinois River.The circuit court, appellate court, and the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in favor of the defendants. Neither precedent nor Illinois common law grants a riparian owner on a non-navigable river or stream the right to use that waterway to cross the property of another riparian owner without that owner’s permission. The distinction between property boundaries on a lake versus a river or stream has been recognized in Illinois law for over a century. The Illinois common law “reasonable use” doctrine of water by riparian owners applies to direct consumptive or diversionary uses of the water, not the use of the surface water to enter the property of another riparian owner. View "Holm v. Kodat" on Justia Law

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In 2017, Brown was charged with violating section 2(a)(1) of the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act (430 ILCS 65/2(a)(1)), which requires a person who possesses a firearm in Illinois to have a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card issued by the State Police. Brown challenged section 2(a)(1) as unconstitutional as applied under the Second Amendment. The circuit court dismissed the charge, finding that the legislature did not intend for the FOID Act to apply in a person’s home because “such an interpretation would lead to absurd and unworkable results.”The Illinois Supreme Court stated: “The circuit court’s ruling that section 2(a)(1) … is unconstitutional as applied was not necessary to the resolution of this case. Therefore, we remand this cause … direct that the order … be vacated." When the cause was remanded, the matter proceeded before a new judge, who adopted the reasoning of an Illinois Supreme Court dissent and again found the section unconstitutional as applied.The Illinois Supreme Court again vacated and remanded. The circuit court had no authority to set aside the directions on remand and enter a different order. The mandate was “precise and unambiguous.” On remand, “the circuit court shall not entertain any motion from any party, nor take any action other than entering the modified order.” View "People v. Brown" on Justia Law

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The plaintiff alleged that his wife, Dollett, was rendered a disabled person with permanent and irreparable brain damage as a proximate result of Fitness’s willful and wanton misconduct in failing to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) on Dollett in a timely fashion after she suffered cardiac arrest while exercising at one of their facilities. There was an AED and an employee trained to use it on the premises at the time of the incident. The circuit court of Will County dismissed the case with prejudice.The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. The Fitness facility where Dollett’s injuries occurred was covered by the Physical Fitness Facility Medical Emergency Preparedness Act (210 ILCS 74/1), which creates a private right of action based on willful and wanton misconduct in the non-use of an AED. For purposes of a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff could conceivably introduce evidence establishing that Fitness’s employees’ failure to provide AED treatment to Dollett in a timely manner after she collapsed rose to the level of willful and wanton misconduct that breached the duty that Fitness owed to Dollett, thereby proximately causing her injuries. View "Dawkins v. Fitness International, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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Prate, a construction contractor, sought coverage through the Illinois Assigned Risk Plan, which provides workers’ compensation insurance coverage through a risk pool administered by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). Liberty was assigned as Prate’s carrier. After determining that Prate’s subcontractor, ARW, did not have workers’ compensation insurance, Liberty assessed Prate an additional premium of $127,305. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, which provides dispute resolution services for NCCI, declined to rule on the dispute, citing insufficient information. Prate appealed to the Department of Insurance (DOI) under Insurance Code section 462. One of Prate’s arguments was that ARW had no employees and that all work on Prate projects was performed by RTS, which had workers’ compensation insurance. The DOI’s hearing officer agreed with Liberty on all issues. The circuit court affirmed. While an appeal was pending, the appellate court issued its ruling in a dispute between Liberty and a trucking company, finding that DOI did not have the authority to resolve a dispute concerning employment status.The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the trial court decision. The DOI had the authority to resolve the dispute under 215 ILCS 5/462. While section 462 does not apply to all insurance premium disputes but only to those involving the application of a rating system to a party’s insurance, the existence of a single factual dispute does not preclude review under section 462. View "Prate Roofing and Installations, LLC v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Corp." on Justia Law

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O’Connell began working for the County in 1999 and became a participant in the Benefit Fund, with the County transferring a portion of his salary to the Fund as his employee contribution (40 ILCS 5/9-108). In 2001, O’Connell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In 2017, after exhausting his paid leave, O’Connell obtained an ordinary disability benefit (50% of his salary). The Board stated that based on his years of service, the benefit would expire in August 2021. The County separated him from the position effective July 1, 2019. The Board ceased paying the ordinary disability benefit to O’Connell; the County ceased making contributions to the Fund on O’Connell’s behalf.O’Connell filed suit, alleging that the Illinois Pension Code and the pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIII, 5) entitled him to continued ordinary disability benefit payments even though the County had terminated his employment. The appellate court reversed the dismissal of his complaint. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. O’Connell maintained standing to seek relief for reinstatement of his ordinary disability benefit by the Board and of contributions by the County and stated a sufficient cause of action for declaratory judgment and for mandamus. Once the Board grants the employee the ordinary disability benefit, Pension Code section 9-157 then enumerates triggering events, which do not include termination of employment, that halt the benefit. View "O'Connell v. County of Cook" on Justia Law

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Sroga was convicted of a Class A misdemeanor under the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/4-104(a)(4)) for displaying an unauthorized license plate on a vehicle. He later filed a petition under 735 ILCS 5/2-1401, asserting that his conviction violated the Illinois proportionate penalties clause (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, 11). He argued that section 3-703 of the Vehicle Code created a Class C misdemeanor covering the same conduct for which he was convicted but imposed a lesser penalty. Neither provision contained an express mental state requirement.The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the petition. The court inferred a requisite mental state of knowledge for Sroga’s section 4-104(a)(4) conviction and concluded that the parallel provision in section 3-703 imposes absolute liability. Although the two offenses criminalize the same physical act, they possess different mental state requirements. Because section 4-104(a)(4) has an inferred mental state of knowledge and section 3-703 imposes absolute liability, the imposition of harsher punishment for a conviction under section 4-104(a)(4) than under section 3-703 is constitutionally sound. View "People v. Sroga" on Justia Law