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In 2010, plaintiff (age 15) was playing floor hockey with 11 other students in his physical education class when a “squishy” ball bounced off his stick and hit him in the eye, causing permanent injury to his eye. Plaintiff alleged that Cunningham, the instructor, was willful and wanton in failing to require the students to wear protective eyewear. Goggles were available, but plaintiff testified that he probably would not have worn them, had he been aware that they were an option. Cunningham testified that she thought the use of plastic sticks and squishy balls negated the need for goggles and that there were safety rules in place. Defendants asserted affirmative defenses alleging statutory immunity under the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/2-201, 3-108. The trial court directed a verdict for defendants. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, reinstating the directed verdict. There was no evidence that defendants were aware of facts which would have put a reasonable person on notice of the risk of serious harm from the activity, which would have triggered the “willful and wanton” exception to the Act. View "Barr v. Cunningham" on Justia Law

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Tuke and Heroy married in 1980 and divorced in 2006. Heroy was ordered to pay $35,000 per month in permanent maintenance, based on a finding that the couple had enjoyed a lavish standard of living while married. The court found that Tuke could reasonably be expected to earn $40,000-$50,000 per year, based on her prior experience as a law librarian and publisher of a law bulletin. Months later, Heroy sought to terminate or modify the award. Tuke sought contribution to her attorney fees. In 2012, the court concluded that Heroy had proven that his income had decreased, justifying reduction of the maintenance award to $27,500 per month. The court concluded that Tuke had some ability to pay her attorney fees but that if she were required to pay all of the fees, her financial stability would be undermined, while Heroy was able to pay Tuke’s fees. The court instructed Heroy to pay $125,000. Heroy appealed; the court ordered Heroy to pay $35,000 in prospective attorney fees. The appellate court concluded the maintenance award should be $25,745 per month but reversed the attorney fee awards. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the trial court holding. That court properly considered the factors in the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act; the record supports that Tuke’s financial stability would be undermined if she were required to pay all of her attorney fees. The court carefully considered the factors set forth in section 510(a-5) of the Act, including Tuke’s efforts at supporting herself. View "In re Marriage of Heroy" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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In April 2011, Pearse, a convicted sex offender, registered the address of his Belvidere home under the Sex Offender Registration Act, 730 ILCS 150/3. In October, an officer verified his presence at that address, which had been entered into the state database. In January 2012, a police officer was dispatched to a Forest Park hospital and filled out an “initial” sex offender registration for Pearse, listing the hospital as Pearse’s address and his home as a “secondary” address. While the secondary address is entered on the form, it is not entered into the state database. About two weeks after his release from the hospital, Pearse was arrested at home for failure to register a change of address. The appellate court affirmed his conviction. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, noting the statute’s lack of clarity, but finding no statutory basis for imposing a duty to “reregister.” The Act requires notification of temporary absence from a registered address, which was accomplished in this case. The court noted that the form used for registration includes several terms that do not appear in the statute. View "People v. Pearse" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff was employed by the railroad, as a switchman and conductor. On August 9, 2008, plaintiff was riding in a railroad van, going from a railway yard to a train, driven by the railroad’s agent, Goodwin. The van was rear-ended by Behnken's vehicle. Plaintiff suffered a severe back injury and can no longer perform his job duties. He is employed by the railroad as a security guard at significantly reduced wages. Plaintiff filed suit under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. 51, alleging that Goodwin had negligently cut in front of Behnken and that Goodwin’s negligence caused the accident. Behnken testified that she was drunk at the time of the collision, that she was arrested for driving under the influence, and that she was found to be legally intoxicated two hours later when she took a breath test. Behnken stated that she did not see the van before she hit it and that she either “fell asleep or was blacked out” and did not know if she had her headlights on. The jury ruled in favor of the railroad. The appellate court reversed, holding that the FELA does not allow a defendant railroad to argue that a third-party’s negligent conduct was the sole cause of the employee’s injuries. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. Under FELA, the employee cannot recover unless the railroad was a cause, at least in part, of the plaintiff’s injuries. In this case, after considering all the evidence, the jury agreed that it was not. There is no basis for disturbing that determination. View "Wardwell v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law

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Defendant, then 17 years old, was arrested and charged with eight aggravated unlawful use of a weapon (AUUW) counts and one unlawful possession of a firearm count. On June 2, 2009, defendant, as part of a negotiated plea agreement, pled guilty to count I (720 ILCS 5/24-1.6(a)(1), (a)(3)(A)); the state agreed to a nolle prosequi on the remaining charges. The court accepted the plea and sentenced defendant to 24 months’ probation based on the Class 4 felony offense of AUUW. Defendant completed his sentence. In 2013, defendant brought a petition under 735 ILCS 5/2-1401, seeking to vacate the conviction as void under the Illinois Supreme Court’s 2013 decision, People v. Aguilar, that the Class 4 form of AUUW was facially unconstitutional. Conceding that defendant’s conviction should be vacated, the state moved to reinstate AUUW counts that were previously nol-prossed. The court denied the motion on the basis that reinstatement of the charges would violate the one-act, one-crime doctrine. The appellate court determined it lacked jurisdiction to consider the state’s appeal. The Illinois Supreme Court concluded that the statute of limitations served as an absolute bar to refiling the charges, rejecting an argument that its decision will have a chilling effect on plea bargains. View "People v. Shinaul" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Stone Street discovered that a judgment had been recorded against its property for failure to pay $1050 in fines and costs imposed by Chicago’s department of administrative hearings for violations of the building code more than a decade earlier. Stone Street sued, arguing that the original administrative proceedings were a nullity and could not serve as the basis for the judgment because it had not been given the requisite notice and had no opportunity to contest the alleged violations before judgment was entered. While notice was never given to Stone Street, a person named Johnson entered a written appearance in the administrative proceeding that culminated in the fine. Johnson represented that he was there on behalf of Stone Street, but Johnson, who died before the litigation arose, was not an attorney, had no affiliation of any kind with the company, and did not live in the property. The Illinois Supreme Court held that, bbecause Stone Street was never properly served with notice and because Johnson had no authority to appear on the company’s behalf, the Department failed to acquire personal jurisdiction over it. The Department’s 1999 judgment was therefore void ab initio and could be attacked at any time, either directly or collaterally. View "Stone Street Partners, LLC v. City of Chicago Department of Administrative Hearings" on Justia Law

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The Department of Children and Family Services indicated a finding of child abuse against Grimm. Grimm, a teacher, claimed that the report was inaccurate and requested its expunction. An administrative law judge recommended that Grimm’s request be denied. Nine days later (July 30), the Department issued its decision in a letter signed by its director, addressed to Grimm's attorney and indicating that it was sent via certified mail; it adopted and enclosed the ALJ's decision, stating, “you may seek judicial review under the provisions of the Administrative Review Law, 735 ILCS 5/3-101 … within 35 days of the date this decision was served on you.” On September 4, 36 days after the date of the letter, Grimm filed her complaint for judicial review, stating that her attorney received the decision no earlier than July 31, and that she did not receive the decision until August 12 or 13. The Department stated that it served Grimm when it mailed the letter. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the trial and appellate courts in finding that the Department’s decision was misleading and violated due process. The courts balanced Grimm’s constitutionally protected interest, the risk of an erroneous deprivation of that interest, and the value of substitute procedures against the burden on the Department to change boilerplate language in a letter announcing its final decision. View "Grimm v. Calica" on Justia Law

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In April 2013, Ayres, pled guilty to aggravated battery and was sentenced to 12 months’ conditional discharge, with the requirement he not leave the state without court permission. In July, the state sought to revoke his conditional discharge alleging Ayres left the state without court approval. Ayres stipulated he left the state without permission. At sentencing, McClellan testified he had been Ayres’s attorney in the past and had received a telephone call from Ayres months earlier. Ayres stated he was the subject of a police investigation involving a shooting. McClellan responded “you need to get the hell out of Dodge.” McClellan stated that, based on previous conversations with Ayres’s mother, Jones, he believed Ayres had places within the state where he could go. He denied being told Ayres could only go to Indianapolis. Jones testified she told McClellan the only place Ayres could go was Indianapolis. The court sentenced Ayres to seven years’ imprisonment. Ayres’s attorney filed a motion to reconsider sentence, arguing it was excessive. Ayres mailed a pro se petition to withdraw guilty plea and vacate sentence, alleging “ineffective assistance of counsel.” The court held a hearing and denied counsel’s motion. Ayres was not present. The court did not reference defendant’s petition. The appellate court affirmed, finding the words “ineffective assistance of counsel” without explanation or supporting facts insufficient to trigger the court’s duty to inquire. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, finding the allegation sufficient to trigger a duty to determine whether new counsel should be appointed. View "People v. Ayres" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant, age 16, was charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and tried in adult court under the “automatic transfer” provision of the Juvenile Court Act, 705 ILCS 405/5-130. He was convicted only of the uncharged offense of second-degree murder, 720 ILCS 5/9-2(a)(2). The court found that the state had proved the elements of first-degree murder but also found that “at the time of the killing [defendant] believed the circumstances to be such that if they existed would have justified or exonerated the killing under the said principles of self-defense, but his belief was unreasonable.” The state had not filed a written motion requesting that defendant be sentenced as an adult pursuant to 705 ILCS 405/5-130(1)(c)(ii), nor did defendant object or argue at the time of sentencing that he should have been sentenced as a juvenile. Instead, the trial court and the parties proceeded directly to sentencing. Defendant was sentenced, as an adult, to 18 years in prison. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred in automatically sentencing defendant as an adult pursuant to section 5-130(1)(c)(i) because second-degree murder was not a “charge[ ] arising out of the same incident” as the first-degree murder charges. View "People v. Fort" on Justia Law

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The Bartonville police department’s union contract includes a grievance procedure. The Union may refer the grievance to arbitration if it is not settled within the three-step procedure. In 2014, Chief Fengel signed a complaint for termination, alleging that Lopez violated department procedures during a traffic stop. After scheduling a hearing by the board of fire and police commissioners, Lopez sought a declaratory judgment, arguing that the board was divested of jurisdiction because it had failed to commence the hearing within the 30-day time limit under Municipal Code 10-2.1-17. The board responded that it did so at Lopez’s request. The appellate court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the board. The hearing had proceeded, with counsel stating that Lopez did not waive the issue of jurisdiction and that the Union’s presence did not waive its contractual right to grieve the termination. The board ordered termination. Lopez never sought judicial review under the Administrative Review Law, but filed a grievance. When the grievance was not resolved by the three-step process, the Union referred it to arbitration. The Department sought a stay, arguing that in relying on the Municipal Code, Lopez essentially admitted that the board had jurisdiction. Because the board issued a final merits decision, review was subject to the Administrative Review Law. The Department also argued that the grievance and arbitration provisions in the labor contract did not apply to termination proceedings because the parties did not negotiate an alternative form of due process in the labor contract. The trial court granted the Department summary judgment, finding no contract provision, “even inferring, that the grievance procedure should, or could, be used to determine disciplinary matters.” The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the trial court decision, finding the grievance barred by waiver and res judicata. View "The Village of Bartonville v. Lopez" on Justia Law