During a 17 year legal battle, Corboy & Demetrio fought every attempt by the defendants in a school trampoline injury lawsuit to have the case dismissed. The trial court, after numerous motions, ruled in favor of the defendants and dismissed the case. An appeal was taken to the Illinois Appellate Court which also sided with the defendants. The case was eventually heard by the Illinois Supreme Court which agreed with both lower courts and ruled in favor of the defendants. Corboy & Demetrio did not let that ruling deter its efforts and persevered, writing another voluminous brief along with supporting documents, requesting a rehearing. The Court agreed to a rehearing, a very rare occurrence, and ultimately reversed itself, ruling in plaintiff’s favor. The Supreme Court decision accepted the position advocated by Corboy & Demetrio, holding that under the Tort Immunity Act, willful and wanton conduct means a course of action that shows an actual or deliberate intention to cause harm, or, if not intentional, shows an utter indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of others. Shortly after the Court’s ruling, the case settled for $14.6 million.
In a case thought to be one of the five most important decisions in personal injury cases in the last 25 years, the Illinois Supreme Court held that jurors can award damages to a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit for the increased risk of future injuries. It was the position presented to the Court by Corboy & Demetrio who represented the plaintiff in a medical malpractice lawsuit where damages were sought for the risk of future injuries. The decision settled conflicting lower court decisions and reversed precedent set by the Court more than 80 years earlier.
A holding company – a company whose only purpose is owning shares of other companies – often escapes liability for injuries to employees at a plant or manufacturing facility by claiming that it has no control over the day-to-day operations. In a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Corboy & Demetrio against a holding company on behalf of a worker killed at an oil refinery, the trial court dismissed the lawsuit based on the fact that the company had no control over the refinery’s daily operations. Corboy & Demetrio appealed the finding to the Appellate Court and the Illinois Supreme Court, arguing that when a holding company participates in the management of its subsidiary by giving specific directions or authorizations, it has become a “direct participant” in the subsidiary’s operations and should be held liable for injuries to the subsidiary’s employees. Both Courts agreed with Corboy & Demetrio’s argument. For the first time, the Courts acknowledged an exception to the immunity enjoyed by holding companies, ruling that a holding company which directly intervenes in the management of its subsidiaries can be held liable for injuries to employees. After the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision, the case settled for $6 million.
In the summer of 1999, a family of six was driving a motor home through Nebraska bound for Yellowstone National Park. As they traveled on the Interstate, a stolen truck hit their motor home which then pushed them into a truck parked on the side of the road. The motor home burst into flames, killing one passenger and seriously injuring another. Corboy & Demetrio filed a lawsuit and the subsequent trial centered on the question of whether the driver of the parked truck was liable for the accident. Corboy & Demetrio argued that had the driver not parked illegally on the side of the road, the motor home would have continued to travel safely into a field off the Interstate. After the jury became deadlocked, the Judge ruled for the defendants stating that the driver was not the proximate cause of the family’s injuries. Corboy & Demetrio appealed the ruling, arguing that it is the jury’s right to decide whether the driver was a proximate cause of the accident, not the Judge’s. The 8th Circuit agreed with that position and ordered a new trial. Upon retrial, the jury found the truck driver liable and awarded the surviving family $6.6 million.
Responding to a 911 call for a child, who was not breathing, paramedics left without examining the boy, who subsequently died. Corboy & Demetrio filed a complaint against the municipality which employed the paramedics, which was dismissed by the trial court, holding that the Tort Immunity Act immunized the paramedics from liability. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed. Corboy & Demetrio then filed a petition for leave to appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court. That court held that the Emergency Medical Services Systems Act, which does not provide paramedics with immunity for willful and wanton conduct, was more specific and should govern over the Tort Immunity Act. The case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.