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54 Vehicle Collision on Kennedy Expressway

Around 5:00 a.m. on April 15, 2020, a multiple-vehicle crash occurred on the Kennedy Expressway in Chicago, said roadway having been left icy by an overnight snowfall.  This led to a crash that involved dozens of cars, 32 individuals being evaluated for injuries and 14 people having to be sent to hospitals.  Illinois State Police closed all of the expressway’s southbound lanes near Chicago’s North Avenue for about three hours.

Even a light amount of snow or a drizzle of freezing rain can quickly turn roads, bridges, and shaded areas into black ice. If you find yourself driving on an icy road, stay calm and take the following steps to stay in control:

  1. Slow Down. High speeds increase your risk of losing control of your vehicle and make it more difficult to stop.  Without good traction, it takes a lot longer to reduce your speed or stop.
  2.  Increase Following Distance.  Increasing the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you will provide you more room to stop in the event your vehicle starts to slide;
  3.  Stay in Your Lane.  Driving straight by keeping in your lane of traffic will decrease risk of sliding;
  4.  Signals. If you must change lanes, put on your turn signals and, if necessary, brake, in plenty of time to alert drivers behind you before you attempt to change lanes, and then move slowly into the next lane or onto an exit;
  5. Time of day. Be mindful that you must be extra cautious at sunrise and sunset when temperatures drop down and black ice most often forms.
  6. Danger zones.  Be especially careful when driving on bridges, overpasses, and shady areas which will ice over more quickly than other areas and will stay frozen for much longer.
  7. Equipment. Keep a survival kit in your trunk in case of emergency. Equipment could include a windshield scraper, a shovel, road salt, a flashlight, booster cables, battery powered radio, a first aid kit, matches, emergency flares, a blanket, and a cell phone adapter to plug into your lighter receptacle.
  8. Icy patches. If your vehicle starts to slide, remain calm, keep your foot off the pedals, steer in the general direction you want to go, and find areas of the roadway that offer traction.

To learn more about the collision, click on the link below:


Former Judge Resigns from Supreme Court Bar

In a letter written to Chief Justice John Roberts, former Judge James Dannenberg, a retired Hawaii state judge, explained why he has lost faith in the court. Having been a member of that bar since 1972, Judge Dannenberg compared the current Supreme Court with its “boundless solitude for the rights of the wealthy, the privilege, and comfortable,” to a court in the early 20th century, a period of profound judicial activism that favored big business interests over such issues as child labor, fair wages and labor regulations.

Image result for United States Supreme Court Building

For more details, please click on the bottom below link:





Lawsuit Filed Against NCAA for Tragic Death of a Student in Hammer Throw Event

Student Ethan Roser, only 19 years old, was tragically killed in April 2017 while volunteering at a college track and field meet. He was struck in the head by a 16 pound hammer thrown during a practice exercise.  When he was struck, Ethan was standing in an area outside the field of play, near the spectator line.


As shown in the above photo, the “hammer” consists of a metal ball attached by a steel wire to a grip.

On March 21, 2019, Jeffrey E. Martin of MARTIN LAW, LLC and David J. Schwaner of SCHWANER INJURY LAW filed suit in federal court against the National Collegiate Athletic Association for their failure to take steps to protect Ethan after they were put on notice that others had previously been injured in other hammer throw events. Amongst the allegations against the NCAA are that they failed to enact sufficient minimum size requirements for hammer cages; failed to enact safety rules for the Hammer Throw event which they knew or should have known created an unreasonable risk of harm to others; failed to require the presence of trained officials at track and field events; failed to warn Ethan of the unreasonable risk of harm posed by standing in the area where he was struck during warm-up throws; and failed to warn Ethan of the unreasonable risk of harm posed by the use of a hammer cage meeting only the minimum requirements for height.


The hammer cage surrounds the athlete throwing the hammer.  These cages were designed to prevent the hammer from exiting the thrower’s hands in unprotected directions, such as out of the back, sides, and in dangerous angles from the circle.  Here, the height of the cage was insufficient to prevent the hammer’s trajectory from reaching volunteers, such as Ethan, standing outside the field of play.

Ethan’s parents are struggling with every parent’s worst nightmare: the death of their beloved child.  Young Ethan had his whole life ahead of him.  The violent nature of Ethan’s last moments make his loss even more unbearable. Ethan’s siblings will feel his absence every day.

Their hope is that no other family suffer this unimaginable and preventable tragedy.  Our shared desire is that this lawsuit will trigger a change for the better: to finally enlighten the NCAA that they need to review and revise their policies and procedures and adopt previous safety recommendations to increase the size of the cage around the hammer throwers to prevent errant throws from escaping and fatally injuring anyone else.

To read more, see the following links:




Contact Your Senators asking them to vote NO on Anti-Civil Justice Legislation

By a vote of 218 to 210, the US House of Representatives narrowly passed HR 1215 entitled “Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017” but it does not actually protect access to care.  This bill establishes provisions governing health care lawsuits where coverage for the care was provided or subsidized by the federal government, including through a subsidy or tax benefit.  The bill has a number of objectionable provisions but perhaps the most objectionable and unfair is that it limits noneconomic damages to only $250,000.  Juries will not be informed of this limitation.

This GOP Bill Undermines the Ability of the Victims of Medical Malpractice and the Victims of Defective or Dangerous Medical Products to Be Made Whole.

Despite the fact that Republicans often refer to H.R. 1215 as a “medical malpractice” bill, the Republican bill applies its provisions not simply to “medical malpractice” cases but to all “health care lawsuits.” For example, in addition to medical malpractice, the bill’s provisions apply to cases involving for-profit nursing homes and long-term care facilities.  So no matter how much an innocent victim of medical malpractice or nursing home abuse suffers – including pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, loss of limb or lives – this legislation limits the recovery to only $250,000.

Supporters argue that such limitation is necessary due to skyrocketing malpractice insurance premiums which, they argue, increase health care costs.  However, the truth is that the GOP bill is outdated; no evidence of a malpractice insurance “crisis” today.  Medical malpractice liability insurance has historically attracted the attention of Congress during industry “crisis” periods, which occurred during the mid-1970s and mid-1980s.  These periods were marked by significant increases of insurance premiums and difficulties in finding malpractice insurance for certain medical specialties.  However, all available evidence shows that the malpractice insurance market is not in crisis today.  Indeed, according to a 2016 article in a medical malpractice insurance industry trade publication, “the medical malpractice insurance industry is continuing its unprecedented run of consecutive profitable years in 2016.”  That same publication, describing a survey of medical professional liability insurance rates, noted that for the “vast majority (75 percent) of [medical malpractice] insurers in the survey, rates have remained flat between 2015 and 2016.”  This is just another measure to deprive injured people and families from being fairly and reasonably compensated for the effects of medical and other health care negligence.

It never ceases to amaze me that in business litigation, one company can sue another for a trademark infringement or contract dispute, for example, and reap millions or even billions of dollars in compensation and other than noteworthy mention of the result nobody bats an eye (even though you can reasonably expect that the costs will be passed onto consumers).  However, if an innocent surgical patient, for example, suffers the loss of sight, the loss of a limb, or is horribly burned from a defective medical device, members supporting such measures want to limit that injured person and his family’s ability to receive just compensation.  Perfect justice would be turning back the hands of time and preventing the injury from ever happening. Unfortunately, since we cannot access perfect justice, we are limited to monetary compensation. Such compensation can help families put their lives back together from catastrophic injuries.

With such questionable support, patient advocates and all of us who fight to uphold the 7th amendment (the right to a trial by jury) feel hopeful that Senate Democrats and Republicans will vote against the bill. While the date of a Senate vote is not yet known, I cannot stress enough how important it is to contact your Senators to voice your opposition to the bill.

Please contact your Senators and ask them to vote NO on this anti-civil justice legislation.

Supreme Court Rules Six-Person Civil Jury Law Unconstitutional

The Illinois Supreme Court today issued an opinion striking down a law that cut civil juries in half. The law would also have hiked juror pay.

To read more, click on this link:

Trial Lawyers Were Right: Tort Reform Just Protects Wrongdoers and Their Insurers!

For years, trial lawyers in Illinois and across the country have tried to educate the public to show the fallacy of those who advocate tort reform.  Unfortunately, large business organizations who seek to benefit from limiting injury victims’ rights have spent massive sums of money to mislead the public into thinking that the ability of people who have been injured through the negligence of others to seek fair and reasonable compensation though the courts harms the economy, takes away jobs, etc.   Thankfully, a recent empirical study by individuals at two law schools has shown that tort reform has very little real impact on society other than protecting insurance companies, big pharma, and large corporations from being held accountable for their behavior. 

To read more about the results of this study, click on the following link:

Surviving spouse not listed on reverse mortgage may lose home – unless…

Representing families in nursing abuse and neglect cases, I frequently am called upon to console a spouse who feels guilty about placing his or her mate into a nursing home. For those surviving spouses who seek to stay in their own home through a reverse mortgage, an article in the Sunday, June 21, 2015 Chicago Tribune points out a harsh fact of which surviving spouses might be unaware: a surviving spouse not listed on the reverse mortgage may lose his or her home.  On June 12, 2015, however, HUD changed its policy to hopefully fix this surviving spouse reverse mortgage trap. 

For more information on this topic see the following link:

Warning to Keyless Motorists: Make Sure It’s Off

A disturbing trend was highlighted in the Sunday, June 21, 2015, Chicago Tribune about how keyless ignitions are causing an increasing number of deaths. Although keyless ignitions have benefits for convenience and improved theft deterrence, the risk of death from carbon monoxide poisoning from an engine left running far surpasses such benefits.   To learn more, see the following link:

SkyRise Chicago 2014 – #EthanStrong

On November 2, 2014, my daughter, Alyssa, and I climbed 2,109 steps over 103 floors in the Willis Tower to raise money for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.  We were on the team hosted by the Northwest Community Hospital Wellness Center.  Our team devoted our climb to a beautiful, heroic young boy, Ethan Sappington, an Arlington Heights resident, who is struggling to recover from the disabling effects of an nearly fatal septic condition after he contracted an infection last September. Ethan suffered organ failure causing loss of blood flow to his hands and feet and necessitating a bilateral amputation of his legs and loss of his left wrist and hand. Ethan and his parents were there with us last Sunday and congratulated us when we reached the top of the Tower.  We watched as Ethan demonstrated what he has learned in at RIC.  Ethan is quite an inspiration and we were so glad that we could complete our climb in his honor.

Thank you to all who donated to our climb.

To read more about the story, click on this link:


The following letter to the editor by ITLA President John D. Cooney appeared in the Madison County Record on June 16, 2014. 

 Facts don’t support I-LAW claims

To the Editor,

Big industry and insurance company lobbyist Travis Akin’s recently published letter was just another spin on the same old tired rant that is full of false claims and distorted facts that he likes to rehash over and over again. He calls Illinois the “Land of Lawsuits” and demonizes our civil justice system by spreading false claims that lawsuits are responsible for keeping business away and our unemployment numbers high. The facts simply don’t support his claims.

Akin never seems to mention the fact that the number of civil lawsuits filed in Illinois has steadily declined since 2007, down nearly 25 percent. Instead he makes false claims that lawyers are filing “junk lawsuits” in an attempt to strike it rich. However, published statistics show injury lawsuits make up only 6 percent of all civil cases filed in state courts. Interestingly enough, it is his big industry and insurance company supporters who file most civil litigation, with nearly 70 percent of civil cases involving businesses suing other businesses or individuals over business disputes.  

Business is thriving in Illinois and corporate profits are at record highs, even though many workers are not receiving their fair share of the growth they are helping create. Just look at the number of major corporations that call this state home – 33 of the nation’s largest companies on the Fortune 500 list are located in Illinois.

A survey done by Career Builder shows that Illinois ranks third in the nation for net growth in private sector businesses from 2009 to 2012 and that our state accounted for 14 percent of all net new establishments in the United States. 

A 2012 survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business ranked lawsuits as 71st among the 75 issues that small businesses find important. Taxes, energy prices, and the cost of labor are far more important factors for a company deciding where to locate.  

As the NFIB survey makes clear, businesses are not concerned about “junk lawsuits;” what they fear are meritorious ones – actions brought by citizens against entities injuring people, producing unsafe products, polluting, swindling the public, or otherwise acting irresponsibly.

Our civil justice system is essential in holding reckless drivers, polluters, careless professionals and negligent companies responsible for the injuries they cause. Akin’s true goal, when he is unmasked as a lobbyist for big industry and insurance companies, is to deny citizens access to the courts that their tax dollars fund. The “profits before people” mentality of Akin and his wealthy backers cannot be allowed to diminish the rights of the public who deserve a level playing field in our courts against such special interest groups.

John D. Cooney is President of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.