|Joanne R. Driscoll|
|Clare J. Quish|
Here are the civil cases with the dates of oral argument (two case excerpts are provided below the page break and Association members can access the full issue at the ALA website):
Walker v. McGuire, No. 117138 – May 13
McElwain v. Office of the Secretary of State, No. 117170—May 14
Matthews v. Chicago Transit Authority, Nos. 117638, 117713, 117728 (cons.) – May 14
Folta v. Ferro Engineering, No. 118070—May 14
Price v. Philip Morris, Inc., No. 117687 – May 19
Nelson v. Enterprise Leasing Co. of Chicago, No. 118058 – May 19
Lake Environmental, Inc. v. Arnold, No. 118110--- May 19
Commonwealth Edison Co. v. Illinois Commerce Comm'n, No. 118129—May 19
The Henderson Square Condominium Ass’n v. LAB Townhomes, L.L.C., No. 118139—May 19
The Village of Vernon Hills v. Heelan, No. 118170—May 20
Klaine v. Southern Illinois Hospital Services, No. 118217—May 20
O’Toole v. The Chicago Zoological Society, No. 118254—May 20
Gurba v. Community High School District No. 155, Nos. 118332, 118369 (cons.)—May 20
Seymour v. Collins, No. 118432—May 21
Ballard RN Center, Inc. v. Kohll’s Pharmacy and Homecare, Inc., No. 118644—May 21
Stevens v. McGuireWoods L.L.P., No. 118652—May 21
The Court will hear several cases of interest this term, including Price v. Philip Morris and a case interpreting the Tort Immunity Act. Below are abbreviated summaries for these two cases.
PROCEDURE – SECTION 2-1401 PETITIONS
Price v. Philip Morris Inc.
This case presents the issue of what criteria must be considered in determining whether to vacate a final judgment entered in 2006 after remand from a 2005 decision of the Illinois Supreme Court. In its 2005 decision, the Supreme Court reversed a $10.1 billion consumer fraud judgment on grounds of federal implied preemption, namely, that the FTC has authorized the use of “lights” descriptors for cigarettes sold by the defendant. In December 18, 2008, plaintiffs filed a petition for relief from judgment under section 2-1401 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-1401), alleging that new evidence – the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Altria Group Inc. v. Good, 555 U.S. 70 (2008), decided on December 15, 2008, and the FTC’s amicus brief filed in that case, showed that the Illinois Supreme Court’s preemption analysis was flawed. The circuit court dismissed plaintiffs’ petition as untimely, but the Illinois Appellate Court, Fifth District, reversed and remanded the matter for further proceedings. Price v. Philip Morris, Inc., 2011 IL App (5th) 130017-U.
On remand, plaintiffs amended their petition, relying solely on the FTC’s statements in its amicus brief in Good that the FTC believed that it had never authorized the use of “lights” descriptors. Although the circuit court found that this “new evidence” was meritorious, it denied plaintiffs’ amended petition, finding that they could not show that the outcome likely would have been different. The circuit court predicted that it was likely that the Illinois Supreme Court still would have reversed the $10.1 billion judgment but on other grounds, namely, plaintiffs’ inability to prove damages.
On appeal, the appellate court found that plaintiffs’ petition was timely, that the FTC’s statements constituted “newly discovered” evidence, that plaintiffs acted diligently to obtain that evidence, and that the Supreme Court would have reached a different conclusion on the preemption issue. The appellate court reversed the circuit court’s judgment and granted the section 2-1401 petition, holding that it exceeded its authority in predicting that the Supreme Court still would have reversed the $10.1 billion judgment. The appellate court then concluded that the effect of granting the section 2-1401 petition and vacating the circuit court’s 2006 dismissal order was to reinstate the verdict.
Appellate Court Decision: 2014 IL App (5th) 130017, 9 N.E.3d 599. Chapman, J., with Stewart and Schwarm, JJ., concurring.
PLA Allowed: 09/24/14
Oral Argument: 05/19/15
TORT IMMUNITY ACT – PUBLIC BUSINESS
O’Toole v. The Chicago Zoological Society d/b/a Brookfield Zoo
The issue in this case is whether the Brookfield Zoo (“Zoo”) is considered a “local public entity” that is entitled to the protections of the Local Government and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (“Act”) (745 ILCS 10/1-206).
Plaintiff sued the Zoo for negligence after she allegedly tripped and fell on the Zoo’s premises. The Zoo filed a motion to dismiss under section 2-619(a)(5) of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (a)(5)), asserting that plaintiff’s lawsuit was filed beyond the one-year statute of limitations provided for in section 8-101 of the Act (745 ILCS 10/8-101). The Zoo attached a copy of the agreement between the Chicago Zoological Society and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County (“District”), which established that the Chicago Zoological Society would maintain and operate the Zoo on public land for the public’s benefit. The circuit court granted the Zoo’s motion to dismiss with prejudice.
The Illinois Appellate Court reversed, holding that the Zoo was not a local public entity under the Act because its operations were not “tightly enmeshed with government” and, therefore, it was not engaged in “public business” that entitled it to the protections of the Act, as is required for non-profit entities under the Act. According to the court, the Zoo was not directly owned by the government, nor did the government have operational control over the business. Under the operating agreement, the District delegated control of daily operations and maintenance of the land and the collections to the Zoo. Furthermore, the Zoo was entitled to appoint its board and managers and provide their salaries, not the District. Moreover, the Zoo was not subject to regulations typical of governmental units. Therefore, the Zoo’s operations were not tightly enmeshed with government.
Appellate Court Decision: 2014 IL App (1st) 132652, 17 N.E.3d 869. Lavin, J., with Fitzgerald Smith and Epstein, JJ., concurring.
PLA Allowed: 11/24/14
Oral Argument: 05/20/15
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