Civil Litigation

A recent decision could dramatically narrow the use of protected health information (“PHI”) that is disclosed to an insurer following the conclusion of litigation in Illinois. With this decision comes possible far-reaching implications facing insurers going forward by preventing the development of future medical fraud litigation and monetary recoveries. In Haage v. Zavala, et al. 2020 IL App (2d) 190499 (March 17, 2020), Plaintiffs filed negligence suits for auto collisions, and moved for entry of qualified protective orders pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) (Pub. L. No. 104-191, 110 Stat. 1936 (1996) [codified as amended in…
Do you have a valid and enforceable arbitration agreement? Is your arbitration provision unconscionable? Have you waived your right to arbitration? Missouri litigants may have the right to submit these threshold legal questions to an arbitrator. In TD Auto Finance, LLC v. Bedrosian, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, reversed the circuit court’s denial of a motion to compel arbitration, finding that the threshold issues of arbitrability were delegated to an arbitrator under the parties’ agreement and the circuit court erred in finding a lack of consideration for the arbitration agreement. Bedrosian purchased a vehicle from a Missouri dealership. In seeking to…
Travis McDonald joins Baker Sterchi’s St. Louis office as an associate. His practice is focused on litigation with an emphasis in insurance defense in product liability, premises liability, and personal injury claims. His practice is also concentrated on first party litigation, as he regularly handles complex property and casualty cases. McDonald earned his J.D. from the University of Missouri at Kansas City in 2014 and his undergraduate degree in environmental science from Southwest Missouri State University, graduating cum laude in 2011.  He is licensed to practice in Missouri and Illinois.…
Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice recently obtained a complete dismissal of a consolidated appeal arising from linear gadolinium based contrast agent (GBCA) litigation, where its client, Bracco Diagnostics Inc. (“BDI”), had been named as a party. This litigation focused on alleged claims of injuries, specifically “Gadolinium Deposition Disease,” allegedly arising from the administration of linear gadolinium based contrast agents during MRIs.  Plaintiffs in these cases brought failure to warn and design defect claims against BDI and other defendants.     Plaintiffs’ appealed an August 2, 2019 decision in the District of Arizona, which ruled that their four expert witnesses on general…
In Graham v. Lakeview Food Pantry, 2019 IL App (1st) 182003, the First District affirmed summary judgment for defendants, including the Catholic Bishop of Chicago (“the Archdiocese”), on plaintiff’s negligence complaint following a fall at defendant’s church. Ultimately, the court found that plaintiff’s claim against the Archdiocese was time-barred by the Illinois statute of repose for construction (735 ILCS 5/13-214(b) (West 2016) (“the statute”). Case Summary On January 17, 2015, plaintiff went to the Archdiocese’s church to accept food donations from co-defendant, Lakeview Food Pantry, which leased space in the church’s basement. Plaintiff was in the process of leaving the…
The Western District Court of Appeals affirmed a defense verdict for a Baker Sterchi client gas station owner on claims by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources under the Hazardous Substance Emergency Act and the Underground Storage Tank Release Abatement and Investigation regulations. Following a combined two-week jury and bench trial in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, a complete defense verdict and judgment were returned for Baker Sterchi’s client, denying the DNR’s requests for injunctive relief and civil penalties related to an alleged petroleum spill. DNR’s regulatory action and civil case followed complaints of odors in a neighborhood in…
The long-awaited Opinion from the United States Supreme Court has been rendered: The structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the “CFPB”), and specifically its appointment of a single director, removable only for cause, is unconstitutional. The Court rendered its 5-4 Opinion, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, earlier this week. The Supreme Court held that the CFPB’s current structure violates the Separation of Powers clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court reasoned that the CFPB “lacks a foundation in historical practice and clashes with constitutional structure by concentrating power in a unilateral actor insulated from Presidential Control.” The…
“The New Normal.” “Social distancing.” “Stay home.” “Unprecedented.”   You’ve probably heard the above phrases more than once, twice, or fifty times over the past couple of months during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Almost all aspects of life are changing and/or have changed, including the way in which we are seeking medical care.   Indeed, telehealth is rapidly becoming a new normal” for routine healthcare visits, a market predicted to reach more than $130 billion worldwide by 2025 and $10 billion by the end of 2020. What is telehealth? According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights, it…
In Bryant v. Compass Grp. USA, Inc., 958 F.3d 617 (7th Cir. 2020), the federal court of appeals for the Seventh Circuit answered in the affirmative the question of whether, for federal-court purposes, a person aggrieved by a violation of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) has suffered the kind of injury-in-fact that supports Article III standing. Plaintiff Christine Bryant’s workplace installed “Smart Market” vending machines owned and operated by the defendant Compass Group U.S.A., Inc. Rather than accept cash, users had to establish an account using a fingerprint. During orientation, plaintiff’s employer instructed her and others to scan their…
Most lawyers are keenly aware of Illinois’ Attorney Registration Commission’s (ARDC) role in the attorney registration, licensing, and continuing education processes.  However, many are unaware of the processes involved in the investigation and prosecution of attorney discipline matters.  Here are three tips (and a bonus!) for things you should consider if you are faced with a complaint to or Request for Investigation from the ARDC. Don’t delay, but don’t fire off an emotional response. Rule 53 of the Rules of the ARDC requires lawyers practicing within the state of Illinois to respond to ARDC’s requests for information in writing within…
Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice Members John Cowden and Tom Sterchi are included as leaders in the defense of product liability claims in the 2020 Global Guide of Who’s Who Legal: Product Liability Defence. The guide includes a total of 614 practitioners from 411 firms in 31 jurisdictions around the globe, each recognized for product liability work ranging from high-stakes mass tort actions to global product recall measures for clients in a variety of industries, including those in the life sciences, consumer product and manufacturing sectors. Published by Law Business Research Limited, an independent London-based publishing group, attorneys are selected…
In Crim v. Dietrich, 2020 IL 124318, the Illinois Supreme Court found that in a health care liability case, the lower appellate court’s mandate remanding the case for a new trial did not include a new trial on the professional negligence claim. The plaintiffs, who filed both a professional negligence claim and a claim alleging failure to obtain informed consent, failed to file a post-trial motion after a jury verdict on the professional negligence claim. While the lower appellate court issued just a general mandate for a new trial and the appellate court later clarified that it intended that mandate to…
Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice is recognized as a top Independent Arbitrator in 2020 Missouri Lawyers Media Reader Rankings. The annual Missouri Lawyers Media Reader Rankings celebrate businesses and organizations that support the legal industry, from financial institutions and malpractice insurance providers to court reporting services, trial services, and more. Initially, nominations for Reader Rankings are submitted by readers and members of the public. Subsequently, readers from across the state vote on the most frequently nominated businesses, narrowing down the winners to the top businesses in the state of Missouri in each category. Baker Sterchi’s Mediation & Arbitration Group includes…
From West Coast to East Coast, states have rushed to issue orders, rules, and regulations to address the new coronavirus pandemic, including, in part, the states’ determinations of what construction work/services are “essential.” Those definitions of “essential” construction activities vary greatly;  some states adopted severe restrictions on construction (allowing only emergency repairs), while others issued few restrictions (leaving construction relatively unaffected). Despite the states’ attempts to maintain “essential” construction projects, the COVID-19 pandemic caused more than one out of four contractors to halt or delay work. According to an April survey released by the Associated General Contractors of America (830…
In a high-profile and much anticipated ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the prohibition against sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to discrimination based on a worker’s sexual orientation or gender identity. In a 6-3 decision authored by Justice Gorsuch, the Court pointed to the “plain meaning” of the language of Title VII and held that “Because discrimination on the basis of homosexuality or transgender status requires an employer to intentionally treat individual employees differently because of their sex, an employer who intentionally penalizes an employee for being homosexual or transgender also…
Baker Sterchi associate Shatrasha Stone’s article “Young Lawyers’ Response to COVID-19 and What You Can Do” appears in the May edition of St. Louis Lawyer magazine, a Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis (BAMSL) publication. Stone’s article offers insight into opportunities available to young lawyers within and outside of BAMSL’s Young Lawyers’ Division (YLD) during the current COVID-19 crisis, from volunteering to speak with law students, presenting online CLEs, and providing pro bono legal services, to focusing on health and well-being.  The article also provides guidance for law students who have had law firm offers rescinded during the crisis.  Stone…