Approximately one year after a public law went into effect limiting the size of a civil jury to 6 persons, the Illinois Supreme Court has deemed the act unconstitutional.
Every breaking news story that might have been reported through eyewitness accounts now features at least one or more videos of the actual event shot by onlookers. Every person with a smartphone or other camera-equipped digital device is a potential source of a video clip for the evening news.Continue Reading
In EEOC v. Aerotek, Inc., No. 15-1690, March 4, 2016, 7th Circuit, the EEOC filed suit against the employer and applied for an order to enforce the EEOC’s administrative subpoena against the employer (a temporary staffing agency). The EEOC had investigated the employer to assess the employer’s compliance with the ADEA. The EEOC sought information regarding “all” the staffing agency’s clients’ job requisition requests of the employer. The EEOC also asked for information about “all” persons that the employer referred for employment to the staffing agency’s clients. The staffing agency “partially” complied with the subpoenas. The information taken from that compliance revealed hundreds of discriminatory job requests by the staffing agency’s clients who attempted to limit referrals to younger individuals. Further, the staffing agency removed information from their compliance documents that would identify clients seeking such referrals. The Court held the EEOC could properly seek the information they requested because: (1) the requested information was within the scope of the EEOC’s authority to investigate “potential” employment discrimination; and (2) the subpoenas were properly aimed at “any” discriminatory requests that were not recorded in the employer’s database. The Seventh Circuit rejected the staffing agency’s argument that disclosure was inappropriate because it would harm the staffing agency’s business relationships with their clients.
In This Issue…
In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc., No. 14-3653, December 17, 2015, 7th Circuit, CVS fired a store manager and offered her a severance agreement which she signed. The agreement included a broad release of waivable claims relating to her employment, including claims under Title VII. The agreement expressly carved out the manager’s right to participate in a proceeding with any appropriate federal, state or local government agency enforcing discrimination laws. One month after signing the agreement, the manager filed a charge with the EEOC alleging that CVS fired her because of her race and sex. After CVS sent a copy of the severance agreement to the EEOC, the EEOC sent CVS a letter stating it had reasonable cause to believe CVS is engaged in a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of the rights secured by Title VII. The EEOC contended the severance agreement was unenforceable. A short time later the EEOC dismissed the manager’s discrimination charge. CVS asked the EEOC to comply with the pre-suit conciliation procedures contained in Section 706 of Title VII. The EEOC responded it was not required to engage in conciliation because it was proceeding under Section 707(a) and was not bound by the pre-suit conciliation requirements contained in Section 706.
The Appellate Court for the First District has found that conviction of perjury and obstruction of justice in a murder case are not necessarily bars to inheriting form the murder victim.
Darota Chaban married William Chaban in Las Vegas on June 9, 2007. When they returned to Chicago on June 13, 2007 and informed Darota’s mother Irene of their marriage, Irene was initially upset. On June 18, 2007, Irene was discovered dead by Darota and William at Irene’s condominium. Irene was last seen on Friday, June 15 at her place of employment. Darota told the police and a grand jury she had not been at her mother’s condominium on June 15 or the rest of the weekend, she was never in the condominium on June 15 and she was with William most of the day. After being confronted with phone records placing her in the condominium on Friday, Darota admitted she had lied and claimed she was following William’s instruction. Darota was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. William was charged and convicted of first degree murder of Irene and sentenced to 45 years in prison. Darota filed a petition to probate Irene’s will and the court appointed her administrator of the estate. Darota later resigned and the trial court appointed the Administrator. The Administrator argued Darota was barred from inheriting her mother’s estate by 755 ILCS 5/2-6 (“Slayer Statute”) and provides, in pertinent part:
Can suicide be the basis for a wrongful death case? Rarely says the Illinois Supreme Court. It almost always will be a superseding, intervening act ending causation.
Plaintiff filed a wrongful death action following her husband’s suicide. In this particular case, the plaintiffs were less than clear about the “injury” that precipitated the decedent’s death. Although the survival count was predicated on the intentional infliction of emotional distress, the wrongful death count itself does not identify any injury to decedent that caused his death or identify on what legal theory defendant’s conduct was “wrongful”. In a conclusory fashion, the complaint stated only that “as a result of the wrongful acts of defendants described above, the decedent committed suicide.”
The general rule, applicable in negligence actions, is that the injured party’s voluntary act of suicide is an independent intervening act which is unforeseeable as a matter of law and which breaks the chain of causation from the tortfeasor’s negligent conduct. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed, holding it was a rare case in which a suicide would not break the chain of causation and bar a cause of action for wrongful death, even where the plaintiff alleges the defendant inflicted severe emotional distress. As a matter of law, decedent’s suicide was not a reasonably foreseeable result of the defendant’s alleged conduct and the wrongful death count was dismissed. Turcios v. DeBruler Co., 2015 IL 117962, 32 N.E.3d 1117.
Who gets paid first, the health care provider or the attorneys? The Illinois Supreme Court has held that the health care providers or professionals come first. Recently, in McVey v. M.L.K. Enterprises, LLC, 2015 IL 118143, 32 N.E.3d 1112 the Illinois Supreme Court considered whether, under section 10 of the Health Care Services Lien Act (770 ILCS 23/10(a)) (“Act”), a lien by a health care professional or provider should be calculated based on a plaintiff’s total recovery or whether attorney fees and costs are deducted from the award prior to calculating the hospital’s lien. Under the Act, a health care provider that renders any services in the treatment, care or maintenance of an injured “shall have a lien upon all claims and causes of action of the injured person for the amount of the health care provider’s reasonable charges up to the date of payment of damages to the injured person.” 770 ILCS 23/10(a). The Court found there is no language in section 10 that would allow the calculation of a health care lien to be based upon the total “verdict, judgment, award, settlement or compromise” less attorney fees and costs. The Court held the statutory language in section 10 of the Act to be unambiguous and did not permit the deduction of attorney fees and costs prior to calculating the amount to be paid to any health care lienholder.
You may not have the anonymity you think you have on the internet. In Illinois, the Courts are willing to require disclosure of the identity of internet subscribers. Recently, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court’s judgment that a subscriber’s internet service provider had to disclose the subscriber’s identity in a defamation suit against the subscriber. Hadley v. Doe, 2015 IL 118000, 34 N.E.3d 549
What appears to be a victory for protecting social media information from being hauled into court cases from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, is not as broad as it looks. The Courts have held open the possibility of requiring Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to produce social media postings for cross examination at a criminal trial, but have refused to require them to produce the information during the discovery part of the case. It is unlikely, however, that the Court would be more willing to let parties to civil suits have greater access to information than criminal defendants.