News & Events

News – February 1, 2018

LEF WINS APPEAL IN NATURAL ACCUMULATION RULE - SLIP AND FALL CASE

Congratulations to David Walters for his recent win in the Illinois Court of Appeals for the First District. The Illinois Court of Appeals recently affirmed a grant of summary judgement in favor of LEF's client, the owner of the suburban strip mall that leased space to a well-known health club franchise. Pursuant to the terms of the lease agreement with its tenant, the client-owner was responsible for plowing/removing snow and ice from the walkways and adjoining parking lot.  Plaintiff was injured when she slipped and fell in the parking lot, allegedly on unplowed snow, while walking to entrance of the health club.  Plaintiff could not, however, identify anything that would establish that the snow had been negligently plowed and could not establish the existence of an unnatural accumulation of snow and ice.  The trial court granted summary judgment concluding that Plaintiff was unable to establish a prima facie case of negligence because she was only able to establish that her injuries were caused by a natural accumulation of snow and ice. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that while Illinois Natural Accumulation Rule provides a defense in tort, liability could still be imposed against the landlord under a breach of contract claim.  The First District Appellate Court clarified the law on this issue and held that liability could be imposed upon a landlord for injuries caused by natural accumulations of snow and ice only in situations wherein there was contractual agreement to plow and/or remove snow and ice and the landlord failed to perform any measure of snow plowing or removal after a storm event; however, in cases wherein snow plowing activities were initiated and completed, a plaintiff is still required to establish that the landlord caused or contributed to the cause of  an unnatural accumulation of snow and/or ice through negligent snowplowing activities. Mr. Walters convinced the Illinois Appellate Court that his case fell in the latter category and affirmed summary judgment.  Robin Allen, v. Cam Girls, LLC , et al.,2017 IL App (1st) 163340,2017 Ill. App. LEXIS 820 (December 26, 2017).

 

News – December 14, 2017

NATIONAL, PREMIER MARITIME FIRM TO JOIN LEF

We are pleased to announce that, effective January 1, 2018, Steven Belgrade and John O'Donnell, of Belgrade and O'Donnell, P.C., will join Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, Ltd. as partners. Steven and John bring over 60 years of litigation experience, with an emphasis in maritime law, and have dedicated their legal careers to representing the insurance industry. Belgrade and O'Donnell, P.C. has long been recognized as a premier, national maritime firm, and they are listed Correspondents for several P&I Clubs in the United Kingdom. Additionally, their remaining practice parallels ours, with a focus on insurance coverage, professional liability, trucking litigation, mass casualty litigation, wrongful death and personal injury claims, and appellate law. 

Attorneys  Patrick Cullinan and John O'Donnell, Jr. will also join the firm, and, with Steven and John, will strengthen Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, Ltd. and enable us to offer a wider scope of services, particularly in the maritime arena. We will maintain the same commitment to provide cost-effective and high quality legal representation, and we are excited for the new opportunities the relationship creates.

Please join us in welcoming Steven, John, Patrick and John, Jr. 

News – November 2, 2017

LEF SAVES INSURER MILLIONS IN POLICY DISPUTE

LEF SAVES INSURER MILLIONS IN POLICY DISPUTE: Thomas J. Finn and Scott Wing successfully defended an insurer in a first-party property loss eight-day jury trial, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. The Plaintiff-insured sustained a property loss caused by a third party's negligent sand-blasting in a building that housed the insured's architectural and design offices, studio and storage space. After the insurer paid full replacement cost business personal property limits of approximately $1.2 million and approximately $500,000 for twelve months of business income loss, Plaintiff-insured sought approximately $4.8 million in extra expense and additional business income loss. The plaintiff claimed that the insurer's delayed claim handling estopped the insurer from asserting the policy's 12-month extra expense and business income limitations and that plaintiff's approximate $2 million in expenses allegedly spent to equip and operate a new studio were necessary expenses incurred to avoid or minimize the suspension of plaintiff's business. After the insurer's $1.2 million offer to settle the claim was rejected by the plaintiff, the case was tried. The jury rejected the bulk of the plaintiff's claims and awarded plaintiff $1.3 million in damages.  The case was tried before the Honorable Ronald A. Guzmán.  Jordan Mozer & Assocs. v. Gen. Cas. Co. of Wis., Case No. 14 CV 10264, (N.D. Ill., Chicago, October 24, 2017 through November 2, 2017). 

News – October 4, 2017

LEF WINS FIRST-PARTY ARSON CASE:

In October 2017, Thomas J. Finn prevailed on behalf of Allstate Insurance Company (“Allstate”). In the summer of 2015, the Gary Fire Department responded to a 911 call and a fire at Plaintiff’s home. Plaintiff testified that he left the home at 12:40 a.m. to spend the night at his girlfriend’s residence and that the home was locked and secured when he left. Allstate’s investigation indicated that the fire was intentionally set and denied Plaintiff’s claim. Plaintiff sued, alleging that Allstate did not have any reasonable grounds to deny Plaintiff’s claim and that Allstate’s denial was a breach of the insurance contract. Though Plaintiff denied any involvement, Mr. Finn successfully convinced the jury that the fire was set with Plaintiff’s consent and authority and that Plaintiff made material misrepresentations regarding his insurance claim. Specifically, Tom elicited testimony from the Gary Fire Department, who testified that the doors to the home were closed, but unlocked at the time of the fire. Tom also presented expert testimony indicating two separate areas of origin in the home, as well as evidence showing that Plaintiff’s Akita dog was later found in the rear yard, unharmed. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Allstate, found no breach and awarded Plaintiff no damages. The case was tried before the Honorable Magistrate Judge Andrew P. Rodovich in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. Davion Allen v. Allstate Insurance Company, 2:16 CV 003110 (U.S. Dist. Ct. N.D.Ind., Hammond, October 2, 2017 through October 4, 2017). 

News – August 1, 2017

LEF PRESENTS SEMINAR ON ADDITIONAL INSUREDS AND CONFLICTS OF INTEREST:

Patti M. Deuel and Jeffrey S. Pavlovich of LEF recently presented to a major property and casualty insurer on “Additional Insureds" and "Conflicts of Interest.” The program focused on additional insured endorsements, tenders of defense and the limited circumstances under which “choice of counsel” must be granted. NOTE: Not all reservations of rights create a conflict! Contact LEF if you want to know more.   

News – July 1, 2017

LEF WINS SUMMARY JUDGMENT BASED UPON A "FLOOD" EXCLUSION:

Howard B. Randell and Peter T. Cahill of LEF recently won summary judgment as to all counts of a Complaint filed against LEF's client, an insurer which had issued a property insurance policy to the Plaintiff. The Complaint alleged that LEF’s client improperly denied coverage after business personal property at the insured premises was damaged during severe rainstorms that hit Chicago on April 17-18, 2013. According to Plaintiff’s experts, rainwater overcharged the City’s mixed sewer-stormwater system, causing water to backflow through floor drains at the insured premises. LEF leveraged this testimony in support of an argument that the backflow of stormwater through the municipal drainpipe system was not covered by an endorsement for damage “solely caused” by water that backs up from a sewer or drain, but rather, coverage was properly declined by the insurer under the “flood” exclusion. The Circuit Court of Cook County agreed, and awarded summary judgment as to all counts of Plaintiff’s Complaint, terminating the case in its entirety.

News – June 1, 2017

LEF PRESENTS TO AMERICAN RENTAL ASSOCIATION OF CHICAGOLAND

David I. Walters recently conducted an educational seminar at the pre-convention Tabletop Show and Dinner hosted by the American Rental Association of Chicagoland, a nonprofit trade association for equipment rental businesses and manufacturers and suppliers of rental equipment.  The event was well attended by the owners and operators of equipment rental facilities throughout the Chicagoland area and Northern Illinois.  The seminar included an analysis of the recent amendments to the Illinois Theft Statute, which now make the theft of rental equipment and revenue a crime. Mr. Walters also provided a general overview and tutorial of the litigation process, with an emphasis on risk reduction and damage mitigation. 

News – April 19, 2017

LEF SUCCESSFULLY DEFENDS INSURER AGAINST BAD-FAITH CLAIMS

Congratulations to Roland S. Keske and Patti M. Deuel, who vindicated the insurer-client's handling of an underlying UM claim in a contentious first-party breach of contract / bad faith suit, which was recently arbitrated in the Circuit Court of Cook County Illinois' commercial calendar mandatory arbitration program.  The commercial arbitrator entered a finding of no-liability and an award in favor of the insurer-client and awarded no damages. The Notice of Award was entered in the Circuit Court on April 19, 2017. Jennifer Arias v. American Family Mutual Ins., 2016 L 003329 (Apr. 19, 2017, Cook County).

News – January 31, 2017

LEF SUCCESSFULLY ADVOCATES FOR CLIENT IN THE ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT

On December 15, 2016, Gerard A. Fosco of Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, Ltd. appeared before the Illinois Supreme Court on behalf of his client, a home inspector and repairman, in the case Schweihs v. Chase Home Finance, LLC, et al., arguing the continued viability of the "impact rule", which is a requirement for alleged victims of emotional distress. Illinois' high court agreed with Mr. Fosco and affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff's claims. The defendants timely filed a petition for rehearing, which is presently under consideration in the Illinois Supreme Court.

News – January 31, 2017

LEF SUCCESSFULLY ADVOCATES FOR CLIENT IN THE ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT

On December 15, 2016, Gerard A. Fosco of Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, Ltd. appeared before the Illinois Supreme Court on behalf of his client, a home inspector and repairman, in the case Schweihs v. Chase Home Finance, LLC, et al., arguing the continued viability of the "impact rule", which is a requirement for alleged victims of emotional distress. Illinois' high court agreed with Mr. Fosco and affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff's claims. The defendants timely filed a petition for rehearing, which is presently under consideration in the Illinois Supreme Court.

News – September 1, 2016

SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN SNOW REMOVAL LIABILITY

The Snow Removal Service Liability Limitation Act (P.A.099-0889) changes the relationship between snow removal contractors (“service providers”) and those who contract with them (“service receivers”).  In the past, snow removal contracts shifted liability one way or the other - typically requiring the service provider to assume the risk - and enabled a property owner/operator to contract away its liability and defense costs for injuries related to winter weather problems on property.  This new Act renders these absolute liability-shifting provisions “void”.  Specifically, the Act voids snow removal / ice control services contracts that require the service provider to indemnify, defend, or hold harmless the service receiver from damages resulting from the acts or omissions of the service receiver.  Likewise, the Act voids those contracts that require the service receiver to indemnify, defend, or hold harmless the service provider from damages resulting from the acts or omissions of the service provider.  The Act applies to snow removal and ice control services contracts entered into on or after 8/25/16, but does not apply to contracts concerning public roads, public bodies, and public utilities.  EDITORS NOTE: This Act does not prohibit additional insured contract requirements. The Act is similar to the Construction Contract Indemnification for Negligence Act, which voids construction contract provisions purporting to indemnify or hold harmless another person from their own negligence. Consultation with counsel familiar with this Act is imperative to ensure that contracts entered into after the Act’s effective date are not rendered void.

News – January 1, 2016

LEAHY, EISENBERG & FRAENKEL, LTD. PARTNERS DESIGNATED ILLINOIS SUPER LAWYERS

Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, Ltd. is pleased to announce that two of its partners, Robert Ostojic and Scott Wing, were recently included on the 2016 Illinois Super Lawyers® list.

News – December 1, 2015

LEF WINS SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN JEWELRY FRAUD CASE

Congratulations to Roland S. Keske who obtained summary judgment in favor of the insurer in a first party / breach of contract suit filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County arising from an alleged holdup and jewelry theft. The Court agreed that no coverage was owed due to several misrepresentations in the insured's  application for insurance regarding the insured's residence, roommates, alarm system, safe and travel habits.  The insured, who incidentally claimed to be a trainer to several current and former NBA players, argued that coverage was owed because the misrepresentations were not significant and were wholly unrelated to the loss. However, Mr. Keske convinced the Court that a dismissal was warranted because the insured's misrepresentations materially affected the insurer's acceptance of the risk. No appeal was filed. McCray v. Jeweler's Mutual Insurance Company, Case No. 13 CH 15238 (Cook County) 

News – March 1, 2015

PETER A. SINK JOINS LEAHY, EISENBERG & FRAENKEL, LTD

PETER A. SINK JOINS LEAHY, EISENBERG & FRAENKEL, LTD. : Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, Ltd. welcomes partner Peter A. Sink to the Firm to chair the Firm's Workers' Compensation department.  Peter joins Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, Ltd. from an established Chicago firm, where he represented insureds and self-insureds before the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, Illinois Circuit Courts, Illinois Appellate District Courts and the Illinois Supreme Court.  Peter brings over twenty-five years of experience defending work-related injuries.  We look forward to our shared future, as Peter significant experience and established reputation for excellence and enthusiasm will serve the firm and our clients well.

News – February 1, 2015

LEF WINS SUMMARY JUDGMENT WITH REGARD TO INSURER'S DUTY TO INDEMNIFY

Congratulations to Howard Randell and Scott Wing who were recently awarded summary judgment with regard to an insurer's duty to indemnify its insured in a matter arising out of the theft of a shipment of cellular phones valued at more than $2 million. The insured, a motor carrier and logistics provider, was initially hired to transport the shipment from Illinois to Pennsylvania; however, due to a shortage of equipment, the insured retained a separate motor carrier to actually perform the transit. After accepting the load for delivery, the driver parked his truck near his home to take a brief rest, at which point the load was stolen, along with the cargo inside. Suit was filed by the owner of the cargo against its logistics provider which, in turn filed suit against the insured to recover the value of the stolen cargo. The insured tendered its defense and indemnity to its motor truck cargo insurer, which accepted the tender, subject to a reservation of its rights. LEF filed suit for declaratory judgment and, during the early stages of litigation, secured a summary judgment with regard to the insurer's duty to defend, with the court acknowledging that the subject policy extended the insurer a right, but not a duty to defend, at which point the insurer was able to withdraw its defense of the underlying case prior to extensive discovery and motion practice. The underlying case ultimately settled on the eve of trial, at which point LEF moved for summary judgment with regard to the insurer's duty to indemnify, citing the policy provision requiring that covered property be within the insured's "care, custody, and control" and a policy exclusion for the insured's liability as a "transportation broker." Following lengthy briefing and oral argument, the court agreed with LEF's position on both the "care, custody, and control" and transportation broker issues, ruling that the insurer had no duty to indemnify its insured for the underlying settlement. Hartford v. Atlas SN, Inc. et al., Case No. 12 CH 1633 (Cook). 

 

News – January 1, 2015

LEF OPENS INDIANA OFFICE

LEF OPENS INDIANA OFFICE - Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, Ltd. is pleased to announce the opening of our newest office at 1112 U.S. Route 41, Suite 101, Schererville, Indiana 46375.  We are excited for the opportunities this expansion will create, and look forward to providing cost-effective and creative legal representation to our valued clients.  As we have in Illinois for more than 40 years, we will offer services in all our insurance practice groups. 

News – January 1, 2014

LEAHY, EISENBERG & FRAENKEL ATTORNEYS DESIGNATED ILLINOIS SUPER LAWYERS

Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel is pleased to announce that five of its attorneys, Kevin Carlson, Steve Frew, Roland S. Keske, Robert Ostojic and Scott Wing, were recently included on the 2014 Illinois Super Lawyers® list.

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