Civil Litigation

This post updates the October 15, 2019, blog post regarding the citizen enforcement proceeding against Midwest Generation, LLC (“MWG”) launched by several environmental advocacy groups (“Environmental Groups”). (That post can be read here.) On February 6, 2020, the Illinois Pollution Control Board (“Board”) issued an order in Sierra Club, et al. v. Midwest Generation, LLC (PCB13-15) (“Reconsideration Order”) reconsidering its June 20, 2019, interim opinion and order (“Interim Order”). As addressed in greater detail in the earlier post, MWG owns four coal-fired power plants in Illinois, each of which contains coal ash disposal ponds. After Illinois EPA (“IEPA”)…
The laws governing the Cannabis industry are changing so rapidly that it’s almost impossible to keep up with all the new legislation across the country. Currently, there are over 1,100 cannabis bills in state legislatures and Congress for 2020. While most in the industry do not believe we will see national legalization in 2020, an additional seven states could legalize cannabis in some form this year. That would bring the 2020 total to 40 states with some form of legalized cannabis. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announced at an Iowa rally that if he is elected to the White House, he…
Don’t Win the Battle and Lose the War. On September 20, 2019, the Seventh Circuit issued a clear word to the wise. If you are in a tax dispute with the IRS and you want the amount of tax or the amount of penalty determined in a bankruptcy court and not the Tax Court, then you must act promptly to file your bankruptcy petition and to thereafter promptly file your adversary case seeking a determination of the tax or penalty. The decision in Donald Bush v. US, No. 16-3244 (2019), put the Seventh Circuit in line with the nine other…
Thanks to “junk science,” the “Show-Me-Your-Lawsuit” state remains within the top 10 of judicial hellholes throughout the country. St. Louis is home to the largest talc verdict to date thanks to a July 2018 City of St. Louis verdict awarding $550 million in actual damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages to a group of 22 plaintiffs. Not only are there forum shopping concerns with regards to the talc litigation, there is concern that St. Louis City judges allow plaintiffs’ lawyers to introduce “junk science” as evidence. Specifically, plaintiffs’ experts have been allowed to tell jurors that talcum powder causes ovarian cancer,…
If you have not looked at your debt collection policies or read your form “dunning letter” in a while, you might need to add some routine check-ups to your 2020 calendar. While collection jurisprudence rarely undergoes a large overhaul, it should be no surprise that tightening protections for consumers are already on the horizon. Consumer protection issues are frequent headliners in national news. From nationwide data breaches to ever increasing household debt, and now with student loan borrowing and medical debt emerging as hot topics in the 2020 presidential election, I would not expect conversations aimed at tightening consumer protection…
Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice attorney Greg Odom will be presenting to local businesses about biometric privacy issues in Illinois. He presents to the Herrin, Illinois Chamber of Commerce on February 25, 2020, and to the Illinois Small Business Development Center at SIU Carbondale on February 27, 2020.  During these presentations, Greg will discuss the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, including the Act’s requirements, strategies for complying with the Act, and considerations for responding to a lawsuit filed under the Act.  He also will examine how other recent and proposed privacy laws in Illinois might interact with the Biometric Information…
In, Doe v. Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hosp., 2019 IL App (1st) 180955, plaintiff filed suit for emotional injuries after a former hospital employee mailed the plaintiff a harassing letter that contained vile, personal statements related to private information in the plaintiff’s mental health records. She alleged that – before it fired the employee – the hospital failed to properly train the employee, supervise the employee, and monitor the employee’s use of records, which was more than the minimum necessary to complete her assigned billing tasks. The hospital denied the woman’s allegations, saying the former employee was solely responsible for…
Facebook boasts of connecting us, of connecting users from across the world and uniting them by common interests and friendships.  One of the features for connecting users is the tagging feature – a way to indicate who is appearing in a photograph.  Facebook users can tag themselves and also tag their friends.  Facebook can also participate, using facial-recognition software to suggest the names of the people appearing in a users’ photos.  See Patel v. Facebook, Inc., 932 F.3d 1264, 1268 (9th Cir. 2019) (“If Tag Suggestions is enabled, Facebook may use facial-recognition technology to analyze whether the user’s Facebook friends…
Fresh off major wins in the 2019 session, Missouri tort reform advocates are shifting their focus to a new target: punitive damages. Following a string of large punitive damages awards from St. Louis City courts, legislators in both chambers introduced bills to sharply curb such claims. Senate Bill 591, introduced by Senator Bill White (R-Joplin), would establish new substantive and procedural restrictions on punitive damages claims. Most critically, the bill would raise the burden of proof on plaintiffs seeking punitive damages awards. Under existing Missouri law, a plaintiff must show by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with…
While it might not garner the attention of Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, January 28th is an international holiday; specifically, Data Privacy Day. The holiday is meant to raise awareness and promote privacy and data protection best practices. For more information on Data Privacy Day, please visit this link. For this year’s Data Privacy Day, we at Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice are looking ahead to potential data privacy laws proposed in Illinois and evaluating the potential impact of those laws. App Privacy Protection Act One such proposed law is the App Privacy Protection Act. This law would require an…
Christina Dubis joins Baker Sterchi’s St. Louis office as Of Counsel. Her practice is focused on defending corporate clients in cases involving premises liability, products liability, toxic tort and personal injury. She has extensive experience handling all aspects of litigation from strategy development, through the discovery and motion process, culminating in successful resolutions by dismissal, settlement, or trial. Dubis earned her J.D. from Saint Louis University School of Law in 1996 and her undergraduate degree in Business Administration, magna cum laude, from St. Louis University John Cook School of Business in 1993. She is licensed to practice in Missouri and Illinois.…
When representing an insured, trial attorneys must be attentive and recognize the circumstances under which opposing counsel may or may not present evidence that their client carries liability insurance. More importantly, attorneys must understand the actions that must be taken to preserve the record and protect the client. The Eastern District Court of Appeals recently granted a new trial based on a finding that the plaintiff made repeated, improper references to the defendant’s liability insurer in front of the jury. Collier v. Steinbach, — S.W.3d –, 2019 WL 7159756 (Mo. App. E.D. Dec. 24, 2019). In so holding, the Court…
Effective January 1, 2020, Illinois enacted a new statute in response to the increasingly pervasive use of artificial intelligence, also known as AI, software by prospective employers. Proponents assert such software allows employers to zero in on and hire the best candidates more quickly and efficiently. Typically, these AI products use mobile video interviews with algorithms analyzing the prospective employee’s facial expressions, word choice, tone, body language and gestures to determine a candidate’s work style, ethic, cognitive ability, and interpersonal skills. Other AI tools might include AI review of resumes and algorithms to analyze an applicant’s response to interview or…
In Ludgarda R. Castillo and Richard Castillo v Jeremy Stevens, M.D. and The Center for Athletic Medicine, LTD., 1029 IL App (1st) 172958, the Court reviewed several issues, and held that a plaintiff’s medical expert in a successful informed consent claim must testify to a breach of the applicable standard of care for the allegedly negligently obtained consent. Ludgarda Castillo sought treatment in 2004 after suffering from right knee pain and was diagnosed with a 17-degree valgus deformity of her right femur. To correct the valgus deformity, defendant Dr. Stevens performed a right distal femoral open wedge osteotomy, but during this…
Angela Higgins has been named President of the Kansas Bar Association’s Insurance Law Section. Founded in 1882, the Kansas Bar Association is a voluntary association of 7,200 member lawyers, judges, law students, and paralegals.  Insurance Law Section members are engaged in efforts to attain uniformity with respect to both legislation and administration in all matters within the field of insurance law. Higgins is a Member of the firm, with a practice dedicated to insurance coverage, commercial litigation, product liability, class action defense, and appellate practice. She is the editor of the firm’s Insurance Law blog, writing and editing blog posts on…
In Woods v. Amazon.com LLC and Johnson v. Amazon.com LLC, 2019 WL 2504093 (2019) & 2019 WL 2509122 (2019), respectively, two individuals, Andrew Woods and Michael Johnson (“Plaintiffs”) brought separate, but related personal injury actions against Amazon.com, LLC (“Amazon”), Duke Realty, LP (“Duke”) and Steel King Industries, Inc. (“Steel King”) (collectively, the “Defendants”). Defendants brought third-party contribution claims against Plaintiffs’ employer, Lakeside Rack Installer, Inc. (“Lakeside”). Both Plaintiffs suffered serious injuries when a forklift driver, employed by Lakeside, caused a steel shelving rack to collapse on them within a newly-constructed Amazon warehouse. Each Plaintiff alleged the structure collapse stemmed from…