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In June 2017, the Cray Huber appellate department won a forum non conveniens victory when the First District Appellate Court overturned a Cook County judge who had refused to transfer an asbestos case from Cook County to Winnebago County.  In Rohl v. Caterpillar, et al., the appellate department successfully argued that the plaintiff was, at best, equivocal about exposure to asbestos in Cook County, and all of the relevant factors favored transfer to Winnebago County.

The appellate court initially declined to hear the petition for leave to appeal.  The appellate department then filed with the Illinois Supreme Court a motion for supervisory authority, arguing in part that the lower court’s analysis was necessarily flawed because it was based on the faulty premise that the plaintiff had been exposed to asbestos in Cook County for nearly eight months in the late 1940s.  The plaintiff had testified that he worked in Winnebago County from 1953 until his retirement in 1999.  He spent six months attending a trade school in Chicago sometime in the late 1940s.  According to the plaintiff’s testimony, the automotive parts he worked with at the trade school were new, clean and dust-free, and he was unsure of whether he was ever exposed to asbestos in Cook County.

The Illinois Supreme Court issued a supervisory order directing the appellate court to allow the petition for leave to appeal pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 306.  The appellate court then resolved the issue on the merits, ruling in a Rule 23 Order that the circuit court abused its discretion in denying defendants’ motion to dismiss based on forum non conveniens.

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On May 17, 2017, Stephen W. Heil and Anthony M. Sam obtained summary judgment in a multi-million brain injury case in Cook County, Illinois.  The case involved a night club patron who allegedly suffered a traumatic brain injury after a New Year’s Eve party when he was struck by an outward opening door at the night club.  The plaintiff sued the night club, its owners/managers and the head of security for negligence in failing to monitor the exit door or post signs regarding the defective door.  In granting summary judgment, the judge found that the defendants did not owe a duty to plaintiff under Illinois law.

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In March 2017, the Cray Huber appellate department persuaded the First District Appellate Court to answer a certified question in the affirmative and to rule that the plaintiffs were required to attach to their complaint an affidavit and health professional’s report pursuant to section 2-622 of the Code of Civil Procedure.  The complaint alleged negligent conduct by a licensed athletic trainer hired to provide on-site injury evaluation and treatment to participants in a high school football game for failing to assess and evaluate a participating athlete for a concussion.  The appellate court ruled that the allegations of the complaint clearly implicated medical judgment, and such determinations could only be properly made by an individual with the necessary training and expertise.

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Pekin Ins. Co. v. Centex Homes, et al., 2017 IL App (1st) 153601.  In this case, the Illinois appellate court issued its most recent in a series of opinions redefining, and arguably expanding, the scope of an insurer’s duty to defend an additional insured.

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American Access Casualty Company v. Alcauter, et al., 2017 IL App (1st) 160775.  American Access, through its coverage attorney, filed a declaratory judgment action against its named insured, Jose Alcauter, and the tort plaintiff, Kimberly Krebs, for breach of the duty to cooperate in connection with an auto accident.  Alcauter failed to appear for his arbitration hearing, resulting in an award of $10,000 to Krebs.  American Access filed a motion for summary judgment against Alcauter and Krebs in the declaratory judgment action based on lack of cooperation.  The trial court denied the motion.

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Daniel Cray authored a sub-chapter entitled, “Motion for Change of Venue” within the International Association of Defense Counsel’s Defense Counsel Training Manual, Third Edition 2016.