Latest from HeplerBroom Blog

Insurance coverage issues don’t often deserve such a headline, but this case is, well – different. Case Background If you lived in Missouri between 2011 and 2013, you’ll likely remember the horrible murder of Betsy Faria. She was killed inside her home in Troy, Missouri, two days after Christmas 2011. She’d been brutally stabbed 55 times. Betsy’s husband, Russ Faria, was convicted of the crime in 2013, but the conviction was overturned. He was acquitted in a retrial two years later. Russ spent more than three years in prison. There’d long been suspicion that Betsy’s friend Pam Hupp was involved…
Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) establishes safeguards and procedures relating to the retention, collection, disclosure, and destruction of biometric data. 740 ILCS 14/15. Passed in October 2008, BIPA is intended to protect a person’s unique biological traits – the data encompassed in a person’s fingerprint, voice print, retinal scan, or facial geometry. Id. But in the last few years, BIPA – with its statutory penalties of $1,000 for each negligent violation and $5,000 for each intentional or reckless violation – has quickly become the bane of corporate defendants. The situation became even worse after the Illinois Supreme Court’s Rosenbach…
On March 25, 2021, Illinois Governor Pritzker vetoed House Bill 3360 (H.B. 3360) regarding prejudgment interest on personal injury and wrongful death cases. The Legislature, however, was quick to amend and pass another iteration of the bill, Senate Bill 72 (S.B. 72), which they sent to Governor Pritzker on April 1, 2021. ( S.B. 72 can be read here.) The purpose of H.B. 3360 and S.B. 72 is to amend the Illinois statute 735 ILCS 5/2-1303 by applying post-judgment interest. If signed by the Governor, S.B. 72 would allow a plaintiff in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit…
The definition of an insurance producer was part of what an Illinois appellate court analyzed in determining whether a two-year statute of limitations barred a plaintiff’s claim. Austin Highlands Dev. Co. v. Midwest Ins. Agency, Inc., 2020 IL App (1st) 191125. The Austin case provides great insight into the significance of whether a party acted as an insurance producer and any resulting protections such a designation may afford. Trial Court In Austin, Plaintiff, Austin Highlands Development Company (“Austin”), acted as an agent for an organization that owned multiple apartment buildings. Defendant, Midwest Insurance Agency, Inc. (“Midwest”), procured an insurance policy…
On March 25, 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker vetoed HB3360, which sought to expand the time frame for pre-judgment interest to plaintiffs in personal injury cases. That bill provided for 9% annual pre-judgment interest on all personal injury and wrongful death claims arising from negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, or intentional misconduct. The bill also provided that interest accrued as of the date of notice of the injury, not filing of suit, and applied to economic damages, non-economic damages, and future damages (such as future medical care and future wage loss). (Pritzker’s letter detailing his reasoning for vetoing the
Under the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), any “entity” that makes a settlement or verdict payment on behalf of a health care practitioner in a medical malpractice claim must report that payment and disclose the details to the NPDB. This means that if the practitioner’s insurance carrier or another entity pays a settlement or verdict on behalf of the practitioner, it must be reported. In some instances, however, there may be valid benefits for a practitioner to settle a matter without filing a report to the NPDB. In those cases, a few exceptions to the reporting requirements may apply.  [Payments…
Illinois’ Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems Act (EMS Act) provides immunity from civil liability—except in the case of willful and wanton misconduct—to all licensed or authorized EMS providers who provide “emergency or non-emergency medical services” in good faith in the normal course of their duties or in an emergency. 210 ILCS 50/3.150. Determining when the provision of medical services begins is essential to identifying when the immunity is triggered. Preparatory Conduct The provision of medical services includes preparatory conduct. For example, the Illinois Supreme Court applied immunity in a case involving allegations of negligence in locating a patient at the…
COVID-19 vaccines are proving safe and effective, holding promise as a key to ending the pandemic. As the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations ramps up nationwide, employers want to know whether and how to ensure their employees timely receive the vaccine. This desire is complicated by a shifting vaccine landscape: public health guidance, vaccine availability, and state and local policies are changing rapidly. For example, in an emergency rule published Thursday, Governor Mike Parson authorized businesses to seek approval to have their workers moved to a higher priority tier for vaccinations. (.) Employers have an interest both in protecting their workforce…
Eight weeks have passed since the Illinois Legislature passed HB 3360, and Governor J.B. Pritzker still hasn’t signed it into law. The Legislation HB 3360 expands and extends the timeframe for allowing pre-judgment interest to plaintiffs in personal injury cases. Under this bill, prejudgment interest begins to accrue the date an alleged tortfeasor has notice of the injury, regardless of when the lawsuit is filed. It also proposes to modify the Code of Civil Procedure to add 9% annual interest to all personal injury and wrongful death actions brought against any person or entity, whether in negligence, willful and…
Closing arguments play a crucial role in a case, and attorneys, judges, and jurors generally agree that it’s the most anticipated part of a trial. It’s the last stage of the case for attorneys to persuade jurors to return a verdict in their client’s favor. However, instead of using closing arguments to summarize the evidence, some attorneys add comments that regrettably can lead to a reversal of the verdict on appeal. That’s what happened in Konewko v. Advocate Health & Hospitals Corp., 2020 IL App (2d) 190684. Case Background Plaintiff, Michael Konewko, filed a medical malpractice suit against Advocate…
In late January, President Biden signed the “Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.” While climate change is clearly the focus, the new administration’s policies regarding environmental justice are also addressed. (The parts of the order addressing environmental justice amend and update an original environmental justice Order signed by President Clinton in 1994.) Underlying Philosophy In the section on “Taking a Government-Wide Approach to the Climate Crisis,” the order details not only the policies to be implemented but also why the Administration believes they are needed. An important component of this philosophy is the…
Earlier this year, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued health advisories for several “forever chemicals.” Regulations require the issuance of a health advisory when a chemical that is “toxic or harmful to human health”—but for which there is no current groundwater standard—is detected in a community water supply well “and confirmed by resampling.” 35 Ill. Adm. Code 620.605(a). According to the Illinois EPA website, “Advisories also contain general information on the characteristics of the harmful contaminant, potential adverse health effects, and numerical contaminant guidance levels,” which “represent concentrations in drinking water at which no adverse health effects are…
  What Happens When the Deceased Has a Will? Generally, a decedent’s Will names an Executor for the estate. The Executor is charged with making sure the decedent’s wishes, as outlined in the Will, are honored. The first thing the Executor does is file the decedent’s original Will with the court and open the probate matter.[1] After the probate matter is opened, the Executor petitions the court for Letters of Administration, which assists the Executor in gaining access to the decedent’s accounts/affairs. The Executor also provides notice to all beneficiaries and heirs, whether those heirs are named in the…
Background Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) establishes safeguards and procedures relating to the retention, collection, disclosure, and destruction of biometric data.  740 ILCS 14/15.  Passed in October 2008, BIPA is intended to protect a person’s unique biological traits – the data encompassed in a person’s fingerprint, voice print, retinal scan, or facial geometry.  Id.  But in the last few years, BIPA – with its statutory penalties of $1,000 for each negligent violation and $5,000 for each intentional or reckless violation – has quickly become the bane of corporate defendants.  The situation became even worse after the Illinois Supreme Court’s…
In most car-truck accident cases, the trucking company is at a huge data disadvantage. While the truck’s electronic control module is a treasure trove of data for a claimant, the trucking company rarely has equivalent data from the claimant’s vehicle. That is quickly changing. Like a semi’s ECM, a late model vehicle’s infotainment system contains voluminous data about the vehicle and its operation in the critical seconds before a collision. With a proper download, the infotainment system will reveal the vehicle’s second-by-second speed, its location, and other valuable data about braking, turning, and vehicle operation. If a driver or passenger…
Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) laws require those that settle or pay claims arising from a beneficiary’s personal injury to reimburse Medicare for any injury-related health care costs the program incurs. The recently enacted PAID (Provide Accurate Information Directly) Act is expected to close an information gap and provide valuable data to those settling or funding these claims. Armed with this additional information, these parties will be able to resolve such claims with less concern that the Medicare program could later demand reimbursement of its expenditures. Medicare’s Legislative History A brief review of some aspects of Medicare’s legislative history will illustrate…