According to the retailers group [Illinois Retail Merchants Association], Mr. [Stephen] Diamond’s Chicago law firm, Schad Diamond & Shedden P.C., has filed no fewer than 238 lawsuits in recent years against retailers small and large, which in its view failed to collect said shipping-and-handling sales taxes. Since the suits have been filed under a “whistle-blower” section of law, the firm is entitled to as much as 30 percent of any recovered taxes as well as attorneys’ fees for its trouble. And because it’s often easier and cheaper for defendants to settle rather than continue to fight, Schad Diamond reportedly has pocketed millions of dollars.
The office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says the whistleblower provisions were intended for use by insiders disclosing misconduct rather than by outsiders, while “Illinois Revenue Director Brian Hamer says [the wave of suits] ‘has given Illinois a black eye’ and victimizes those who have made only an ‘inadvertent’ mistake.” [Greg Hinz, Crain's Chicago Business]
“Saying that a moving train presents an obvious danger, the Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a $3.9 million jury award against a trio of railroad companies.” A 12-year-old had “tried to impress his friends by jumping onto a moving train in Chicago Ridge” and was badly injured. [Madison County Record]
Illinois: “If you are a state employee and your feet hurt, you could be in line to receive medical care, including surgery, paid time off plus a tax-free disability settlement that might exceed your annual salary — all paid for by taxpayers. You also would keep your job.” Arbitration awards for trauma inflicted by “repetitive walking” and other seemingly common workplace stresses have caused enough concern that state attorney general Lisa Madigan has called for tightening up causation standards. [Belleville News-Democrat]
Because of a mounted dashboard camera, you can watch the footage of a Quincy, Ill. municipal transit bus on its seemingly uneventful ride until an oncoming car suddenly loses control and swerves directly into its path. [KHQA] If you do watch the footage, released by the plaintiff’s lawyer, see whether you would have predicted that the legal outcome of the crash would turn out to be “city pays $4 million to passenger in car that lost control.” (& welcomeReddit readers).
“This January, the justices stopped [attorney James] Wylder’s argument dead in its tracks once again, concluding that the McLean County Circuit Court should have dismissed his three negligence suits against Illinois Central Railroad. Wylder had argued that Illinois Central was responsible for the alleged asbestos-related injuries of workers at an asbestos plant because the asbestos had arrived there by rail.” [Chamber's Madison County Record, more; background on "asbestos conspiracy" line of Illinois cases, LNL]
East St. Louis: “In yet another ‘swoon and fall’ case against a church, an Illinois woman claims she was injured during a church service when a parishioner who was receiving the ‘spirit’ fell backward, knocking several other worshippers into her.” Most “slain in the Spirit” suits are filed either by the worshiper who loses consciousness and falls or by a designated “catcher”; this one is on behalf of an injured bystander [Matthew Heller, On Point News; earlier here, here, here] “New tort: Gottvertrunkenism” [@Sam_Schulman]
Politicos mobilize against risk that Wal-Mart will bring fresh produce choices to Harlem [Greg Beato] India frets about whether to allow chain stores, recapitulating a debate U.S. once went through [Tabarrok, MR]
Colorado legislators honored at a luncheon where I spoke [CCJL]
Congratulations to the outstanding Abnormal Use for winning the ABA’s “Blawg 100” vote for best torts blog; we feel pretty good about placing third without mounting a campaign. While exploring that site, don’t miss its stellar coverage of the tendentious documentary “Hot Coffee”.
“Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder was dropped Tuesday from hearing all asbestos cases less than a week after her campaign committee received $30,000 in contributions from three metro-east asbestos law firms.” [Belleville News-Democrat, followup (says she'll return money); Chamber-backed Madison/St. Clair Record, followup]
Illinois courts may finally be tiring of liberal applications of “civil conspiracy” doctrine under which “Asbestos companies bear a sort of collective guilt and thus plaintiffs can sue companies they never actually had any contact with. Jurors in Bloomington have ordered up more than $120 million in damages against companies including Honeywell and Owens-Illinois, even though those companies never sold products to the plaintiffs, or employed them in their factories.” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]
Neurosurgeons in Cook and four other counties pay nearly $230,000 a year, obstetricians nearly $140,000, and general surgeons nearly $100,000. The legislature in Springfield had voted liability limits, but last year the Illinois Supreme Court, in a decision hailed by organized plaintiff’s lawyers but condemned as lawless by many others, struck down those limits. [Heather Perlberg, Medill]
I’ll be talking on Monday at noon at the University of Indiana-Bloomington Maurer School of Law in Bloomington, Ind., about my forthcoming book Schools for Misrule. Prof. Bill Henderson will comment. On Tuesday I’ll speak to law students at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, again at noon, with Prof. Larry Ribstein commenting. Student chapters of the Federalist Society are sponsoring both events. If you’re there, please feel free to introduce yourself.
Get your copy today!My new book tackles the question of why so many bad ideas come from the law schools. "Cutting-edge commentary, hard-hitting, witty, astute." -- Publisher's Weekly. "Excellent... A fine dissection of these strangely powerful institutions" -- Wall Street Journal.