Civil Litigation

Ortiz v. State, 869 A.2d 285 (2005)

Juan Ortiz was convicted of first degree murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and arson in the second degree. The jury voted eleven to one to sentence Ortiz to death. This article will primarily review the issue that involves the trial judge’s decision to deny Ortiz the supplemental voir dire questionnaire.

After his conviction, Ortiz appealed and brought up six issues. The issues primarily pertain to questions issues jury questions and certain evidence that was admitted during the trial. For example the victim’s wounds were repeatedly shown to
Continue Reading Trial Judge’s “Broad Discretion in Voir Dire (Ortiz v. State)

Adams v. Commissioner, 160 T.C. No. 1 (U.S.T.C. January 24, 2023)

Last month, the U.S. Tax Court considered a pro se litigant’s challenge to the Commissioner’s decision to revoke his passport over $1.2 million in assessed tax liability. Cross motions for summary judgment were filed, with Adams alleging that the tax liabilities assessed were improper and that revoking his passport was unconstitutional. The Tax Court held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the constitutional challenge and that the revocation was proper because there is no requirement under the Internal Revenue Code that the tax was properly assessed, just that it
Continue Reading Tax Court Affirms Passport Revocation, Lacks Jurisdiction for Constitutional Challenge

Our Insurance Law Blog 2022 year-end review encapsulates significant jury verdicts and decisions affecting insurance cases across the nation. View the post for a non-exhaustive list of insurance cases with national and regional implications that deserve attention.


  • M.O. v. Geico Gen. Ins. Co., 2023 Mo. LEXIS 4 (Mo. banc. 2023).

A couple’s back seat dalliance became the basis of an insurance claim that attracted national attention in 2022. The plaintiff alleged that she contracted HPV after engaging in sexual activity with defendant in his vehicle, which was insured by GEICO.  After making an insurance claim, the plaintiff and
Continue Reading Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas 2022 Notable Insurance Law Decisions

In Crum & Forster Specialty Ins. Co. v. Spike’s Pub & Grub, No. 3:21-CV-1722-NJR, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1360 (S.D. Ill. Jan. 4, 2023), the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois found that an insurance company owed no duty to defend a pub for a stabbing that took place on its premises, but denied the insurance company’s request for a declaration that it owed no duty to indemnify the pub.

In the underlying action, Devin Elliott filed a lawsuit against Spike’s Public House in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, Illinois, alleging that Spike’s
Continue Reading Illinois Federal Court Re-Affirms Insurance Coverage Exclusions Matter

Tims v. Black Horse Carriers, Inc., Docket No. 127801 (February 2, 2023)

The Illinois Supreme Court today released its groundbreaking decision involving statute of limitations in the notorious Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”). I have written extensively on the onslaught of complaints on this issue pending in both federal and state courts.

In Tims v. Black Horse, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed the First District Appellate Court and found that the five-year statute of limitations period in section 13-205 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure applies to sections 15(a), 15(b), and 15(e) of BIPA, and the one-year statute of
Continue Reading Illinois Supreme Court’s Major BIPA Decision (Tims v. Black Horse)

In an opinion handed down on January 27, the Supreme Court of Kansas affirmed a previous decision of the Court of Appeals reversing a judgment against a liability insurer. The plaintiff had taken a multi-million dollar judgment against the insured, who had only minimum coverage and assigned his claim against the insurer to the plaintiff. Following a bench trial, the District Court found that the insurer had breached its duty of good faith and reasonableness in allegedly failing to settle, thus causing the excess judgment. While refusing to hold the insurer owed no duty to the insured before the plaintiff
Continue Reading Supreme Court Sides with Liability Insurer in Baker Sterchi's Appeal of Bad Faith Verdict

Illinois River Access and River Rights, Holm v. Kodat – The Mazon River Fossil Case When the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision in Holm v. Kodat was filed on June 16, 2022, both Supreme Court Justice Neville and advocates of recreational Read More….
The post Illinois River Access and River Rights, Holm v. Kodat – The Mazon River Fossil Case appeared first on Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C..
Continue Reading Illinois River Access and River Rights, Holm v. Kodat – The Mazon River Fossil Case


The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that largely regulates pension, 401(k), and similar employer provided retirement benefit plans. The statute is intensive, it provides strict regulations pertaining to fiduciary duties by employers and similar sorts of requirements. While lawsuits arising from ERISA are often initiated by employees, there is also an enforcement mechanism from the Department of Labor. The Supreme Court’s decision in Hughes v. Northwestern considered whether the University breached its fiduciary duty of prudence by failing to remote certain low performing retirement options from its basket of options. The Seventh
Continue Reading Hughes v. Northwestern: ERISA’s and the Duty of Prudence

South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., 138 S. Ct. 2080 (2018)


The Supreme Court’s 2018 decision, South Dakota v. Wayfair, is the most significant case in the realm of State and Local Taxation over the last several decades. This case nixed the physical presence rule that had been originally established in the 1967 case, National Bellas Hess v. Illinois Department of Revenue,1 and later reaffirmed the 1993 case, Quill v. North Dakota.2


The Quill decision established a physical presence rule which stated that states were not allowed to require out-of-state businesses to collect sales tax if they did not
Continue Reading The Supreme Court’s Decision to Overrule Quill’s Physical Presence Requirement and its Impact on State Sales Tax (South Dakota v. Wayfair)

People v. Sandoval, 2023 IL App (2d) 220155

The Second District Appellate Court in Illinois recently heard the case of People v. Sandoval. Sandoval is being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). The case centers around the question of whether the trial court should have considered the official reports from the arresting officer, McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Kim as evidence, in its decision to rescind the summary suspension of Sandoval’s driving privileges. While the court took judicial notice of the police officer’s sworn report, it did not admit the report into evidence. The State appealed this
Continue Reading DUI Case Remanded, After Trial Court Admits Officer’s Reports by Judicial Notice, Rather Than as Evidence (People v. Sandoval)

HB1188 Phase Out Corporate Giveaways Act

HB 1255 Local Government Business Anti-Poaching Act


Two bills have been recently introduced in the Illinois House of Representatives that look to limit governments’ ability to attract businesses, manufacturing, and jobs. The bills aim to limit the ability of states and municipalities (respectively) from offering corporate incentives tied to relocating projects, developments, or headquarters. While these bills, HB1188 and HB1255, aim to address different issues but share the common theme of limiting incentives to businesses and corporations.


HB1188, the Phase Out Corporate Giveaways Act, aims to create the Phase Out Corporate Giveaways
Continue Reading Pair of Bills Proposed in Illinois House Meant to Limit Corporate Incentives

City of Rockford v. Gilles, 2022 IL App (2d) 210521

Arellano v. McDonough, U.S., No. 21-432 (January 23, 2023)


The first case decided in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2023 term is Arellano v. McDonough, a unanimous decision authored by Justice Amy Coney Barrett. In its opinion, the Supreme Court denied a veteran’s disability benefit application due to missing the one year statutory deadline. The Court ruled that equitable tolling was not available to remedy the missed deadline, primarily due to the fact that Congress included 16 different exceptions to the statutory period, which does not include equitable tolling.

Continue Reading Different Reasons for Denying Equitable Tolling: A Comparative Analysis of Arellano v. McDonough and City of Rockford v. Gilles

On January 20, 2023, Judge Morrison of the Fourth Judicial Circuit in Effingham County ruled in favor of guns rights activists by issuing a temporary restraining order for HB 5471. HB 5471 is the gun control legislation that was recently signed into law by Governor Pritzker. The plaintiffs in the case are represented by Tom Devore, the former Republican nominee for Illinois Attorney General who was recently defeated by Kwame Raoul by double digits. The pair are now likely to continue to face off in court, as Attorney General Raoul’s quickly filed its notice of appeal.

Plaintiffs sought an emergency
Continue Reading Effingham County Judge Issues TRO on New Illinois Gun Legislation (Accuracy Firearms v. Pritzker)

In an area of law formerly left to the states, on January 5th, the Federal Trade Commission issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that seeks to implement a nationwide retroactive ban on non-compete agreements, with limited exceptions. The proposed rule would supersede state laws that are less protective of employees.

Who does the proposed FTC rule apply to?
The rule would cover non-compete clauses with any worker, paid or unpaid, including employees, independent contractors, interns, externs, volunteers, apprentices, or sole proprietors. Under the rule, “employer” is broadly defined as “any natural person, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity, including
Continue Reading FTC Proposes Rule to Ban Non-Compete Agreements

In a DJ action filed by a commercial liability carrier, an Illinois Appellate Court held that an insurer had no duty to defend or indemnify a self-employed driver who was operating his personal vehicle during the course and scope of employment. In the underlying negligence claim, the injured plaintiff alleged personal injury and property damage when a truck driven by the owner of a construction company struck the open door of her parked car as she was getting out. The owner’s truck was purchased by him in his own name and insured through his personal auto insurance. 
The owner’s construction company was a named insured on a CGL policy that defined
Continue Reading No Liability Coverage for Company Owner Operating Personal Vehicle in Course and Scope of Employment (Illinois Court of Appeals)

by George Kiser
Recently, I was talking with colleagues about overly broad discovery orders entered against defendants and the options for appealing those orders. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to appeal these orders before the case is over, to prevent a costly search of a client’s records? However, a party is generally not able to appeal a trial court order issued in the middle of a case, before final verdict is entered. Generally, a party can appeal from a final judgement in a case, but not before it. The trial court can grant permission to appeal a decision, but
Continue Reading Can a Discovery Dispute Lead to Extraordinary Intervention by the Illinois Supreme Court? Usually Not; That’s Why it is Extraordinary