Truck Co. Can’t Slash $54M Loss For Driver’s Road Rage Past

An Illinois appellate court on Tuesday affirmed a $54 million verdict against a trucking company that hired a driver with a history of road rage and accidents and whom a jury found responsible for a 2011 car crash that caused serious injuries to an Indiana couple.

The court said the award, which included $35 million in punitive damages, wasn’t excessive given evidence the jury heard about the driver’s record. Universal Am-Can Ltd. employed David Lee Johnson despite being aware he was convicted of nine traffic-related offenses in addition to four counts of felony reckless aggravated assault for attempting to break the headlights of a vehicle that had been tailgating him, the panel said.

The jury followed Indiana law when it found the company’s “willful and wanton misconduct” warranted substantial punitive damages for plaintiff James Denton, who had been seriously injured in the crash, the panel found.

“The jury was presented with extensive evidence regarding Johnson’s history prior to applying at UACL, as well as UACL’s internal safety policies. Despite Johnson’s history, UACL nevertheless hired him, even though doing so violated its own company policies,” the appellate court said.

It’s not the first time Illinois’ First District Appellate Court has considered this lawsuit. The court previously held in 2015 that the substantive law of Indiana, not Illinois, should govern the case, according to the opinion. The court’s prior ruling mandated that Indiana law as it related to several liabilities would be applied at trial and that the name of another driver, George Kallis, would be on the verdict form.

The trucking company had argued that the “sole protagonist” in the case is Kallis, contending it was his actions that caused the accident and Denton’s injuries. According to court documents, Kallis was driving the wrong way on an interstate highway in Indiana, causing other vehicles to swerve off the road, when Johnson, who was driving with a suspended license at the time, crashed into Denton and pushed the man’s Jeep into the fuel tank of another semitruck,

In the court’s earlier ruling, the trucking company got exactly what it asked for, in that it was “allowed to argue, albeit unsuccessfully, that the accident was caused entirely by Kallis’ negligence in driving the wrong way on the interstate,” the panel said. It just wasn’t able to prove that any of Kallis’ conduct was a proximate cause of Denton’s injuries, it said.

“Simply put, the jury’s finding of zero percent fault on kallis’ part, reflects its belief that James was injured as a result of the conduct of defendants owing to the negligent operation of the semitractor trailer truck and the willful and wanton retention of an obviously unqualified and dangerous over-the road truck driver,” the appellate court said.

Denton underwent nine surgeries as a result of his injuries from the accident, including spinal fusions, and he now has a prosthetic metal knee, according to court documents. He also has to regularly take opioid medication to manage chronic pain.

The court also scolded the company for a “flagrant disregard” for Illinois Supreme Court rules, saying even a casual reader of the defendants’ statement of facts would find it “chockablock with argumentative, conclusory allegations like this: ‘[t]here is nothing in Johnson’s driving history that would suggest he was a dangerous truck driver.””

Their “overly emphatic and inarguably hyperbolic” brief failed to include the applicable standards of review for the issues raised on appeal, the court said, and when such a standard was provided, it was erroneous,

“We reemphasize that this court is not a repository into which appellants may foist the burden of argument and legal research,” the panel said.

Judges Terrence Lavin, James Fitzgerald Smith, and Mary Ellen Coghlan sat on the panel for the appellate court.

Denton is represented by Robert J. Napleton of Motherway & Napleton LLP, Christopher T. Theisen, and James M. Roche of Theisen & Roche and Lynn D. Dowd of the Law Offices of Lynn D. Dowd.

Universal is represented by Carlton D. Fisher and Stephen R. Swofford of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP and Morley Witus and Kevin M. Aoun of Barris Sott Denn & Driker PLLC.

The case is Denton v. Universal Am-Can Ltd. et al., case number 1-18-1525, in the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District.

‘Justice delayed is justice denied’

Although the closure of Illinois’s civil courthouses has caused a delay in court proceedings, it has not prevented the attorneys and staff at Theisen & Roche from working tirelessly for our clients.

At Theisen & Roche, we are dedicated to providing justice and relief to the Chicago community in accordance with Covid-19 restrictions. We believe justice is too important to simply be put on hold. Therefore, during this pandemic, we are utilizing all our technological resources to consult clients through the legal process in the safety of their own homes.

Once our state decides it’s safe to open civil courthouses again, our law firm is ready and eager to fight to protect your rights and achieve the best resolution possible for you.

Theisen & Roche Nationally Recognized for Auto Personal Injury Ruling

Theisen & Roche, Ltd. is being featured in a publication put out by VerdictSearch focused on the Top 100 Verdicts of 2017. The $54 million verdict the lawyers obtained on behalf of a client who had suffered from a rear-end collision was the 31st highest verdict in all of the United States in 2017.

In addition to being ranked #31 of the top 100 nationally, the verdict was the sixth highest in Illinois for the year. According to another publication, the Jury Verdict Reporter, it is also higher than any Illinois auto personal injury verdict previously reported.

Do You Really Know Car Insurance Basics?

It’s important to choose car insurance that fits your state’s laws and your needs. To do that, you need to know the basics of insurance policies and what they cover.

Basics of Car Insurance

Most states require vehicle owners to have liability insurance, often requiring a minimum amount of coverage. Failure to carry insurance has serious consequences. Driving without insurance can result in a fine up to $1,000.00. Additionally, driving without insurance will cause the Secretary of State to suspend a person’s driver’s license. In Illinois, every driver must have liability coverage of $25,000.00 per person for bodily injury as a result of a collision. It is easy to see how a serious collision could cause damages in excess of $25,000.00. If you are at fault for the collision and the damages exceed $25,000.00, you are personally responsible for the damages that exceed $25,000.00. Therefore, it is important to consult with an insurance professional to determine the proper amount of insurance for your particular situation.

How Much Insurance Do You Need?

The above examples discuss covering an individual that is injured due to your fault. In a situation where you are injured due to the fault of others, it is important to have coverage that protects you from uninsured and underinsured motorists. Unisured and underinsured motorist coverage will pay for damages, if the at-fault driver does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to compensate you for your damages. Collision coverage is another option to consider. If your vehicle is damaged, as a result of a collision, collision coverage will pay for the repairs to the vehicle.

Shopping for Car Insurance

You can purchase insurance from an insurance broker or an independent agent. A broker can shop a number of different insurance companies to find the best insurance that meets your needs. An independent agent sells insurance on behalf of just one company, i.e. Allstate, State Farm, etc. Generally speaking, an insurance broker’s loyalty is to you, while an independent agent’s loyalty is to the company it represents. It is highly recommended to stay away from “sub-standard insurers.”

Questions? Contact Our Automobile Collision Injury Lawyers

If you’ve recently been in a car accident and have questions about your insurance coverage or injuries, contact Theisen & Roche. Our Chicagoland attorneys have decades of experience in personal injury cases and want to help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 24/7 at (888) 845-7241, or get a free case evaluation through our online form.

Do Chicago’s Red Light Cameras Work?

Despite a bribery scandal and revelations of operational irregularities, the City of Chicago is sticking to its guns on the issue of red light cameras (RLCs) installed at local intersections — but officials are also willing to give “well-intentioned” red-light runners “the benefit of the doubt,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Changes Ordered by the City

Chicago’s automated camera systems are installed at area intersections in order to catch red light-defying drivers in the act. The cameras photograph violators’ faces and license plate numbers, producing “evidence” on the basis of which police can later issue tickets by mail.

Similar systems are now in use throughout the country. In Chicago, where offenders must pay $100 per violation, one of the nation’s largest and oldest RLC systems has been dogged by discontent since its introduction in 2002.

In a bid to make Chicago’s controversial automated enforcement program more palatable, city officials have announced an official increase of two-tenths of a second in the so-called ‘grace period’ after which a driver who enters the intersection after the red will be photographed for later ticketing. Authorities will also order placement adjustments, removing devices from six intersections while adding them to another five within the city.

The package of changes comes after a $300,000, taxpayer-funded study concluded that the tweaks would improve fairness without compromising public safety. The city’s Transportation Committee says the new ‘grace period’ will cut violations by about a third, thus undercutting the government’s red-light revenue catch by about $17 million annually. It is unclear if these cosmetic changes will satisfy program critics.

The Effectiveness and Legality of Chicago’s Red Light Cameras

According to Chicago’s brass, the multimillion-dollar, revenue-positive program is about improving public and traffic safety. But opponents are many and vocal, claiming for instance that any gains in public safety are minimal. What does the data say?

According to The Transportation Center at Northwestern University, studies reliably confirm the effectiveness of red light cameras for reducing reckless driving in general and also specific types of accidents, like “right angle” crashes, i.e. T-bone collisions.

On the other hand, RLC systems may actually increase the number of rear-end collisions as motorists become more likely to throw on the brakes at the last minute, so trade-offs do exist. However, T-bone collisions are usually more dangerous and damaging than rear hits, so the trade-offs may be worth it. The key, analysts say, is smart implementation that targets hotspots which would benefit most from enhanced enforcement.

As for the legality of the program, the law appears to be on the side of government proponents — at least in Illinois. In numerous other states, similar programs have crumbled in the face of various legal challenges. For now, though, it appears Chicago will remain one of the most RLC-regulated urban drivescapes in the U.S.

Contact Chicagoland Accident Lawyers Theisen & Roche

If you end up in an accident anywhere on the road in Chicago, Aurora, Wheaton, Naperville or nearby, get in touch with Theisen & Roche, LTD. Whether you’re rear-ended at an intersection with red light cameras or T-boned at an intersection lacking cameras, we can help you with your legal case. Our car accident attorneys have more than 40 years of combined experience in Illinois. If you’re looking for an accident lawyer in Chicago, get a free case evaluation online today.

Nursing Home Surveillance

Nursing home abuse and neglect are not uncommon, and personal injury lawyers like Theisen & Roche are committed to fighting it and finding justice for the victims. However, sometimes the evidence is dismissed or suppressed in an abuse claim, as is the case with the evidence gathered by John Chiurato to help his elderly father.

Obtaining Evidence with Video Surveillance

When Chiurato’s 88-year-old father, Francesco, began complaining about a new employee at his home of Pleasant View Luther Nursing Home, the younger Chiurato knew action had to be taken. In order to substantiate his father’s claims about the employee, Chiurato set up a surveillance camera in the room. The footage revealed a pattern of disturbing abuse and neglectful behavior toward the nursing home resident.

Once the video was turned into the local police department, detectives charged the employee, Doris Burke, with felony aggravated battery to a person older than 60 and felony abuse of a long-term health care facility resident. Burke pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Illinois Nursing Home Law Violation

Burke’s attorney argued that the video evidence captured by Chiurato should be suppressed due to its violation of the Illinois Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Care Facilities Act. The act went into effect in January 2016 and requires that a resident in a long-term care facility must notify the facility in writing before installing a recording device. Chiurato stated that he was unaware of the stipulations presented in the act.

The Pleasant View Luther Nursing Home in Ottawa, Illinois, has been fined $13,750 by the state’s Department of Health for “failing to protect residents from verbal and physical abuse by staff.” LaSalle County’s State’s Attorney took over the case for Chiurato and hopes to bring closure to him and his family, as well as prevent other certified nursing aides & long-term care facility employees from committing similar crimes.

Contact Theisen & Roche

At Theisen & Roche, Ltd., we know the law in Illinois and we can help you avoid situations like this so that we can work together to seek justice for your loved ones. If you suspect or know that a loved one is being abused or neglected in a long-term care facility, contact our law firm for a free case evaluation. We proudly serve the Chicagoland area, including Aurora, Naperville, Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Elmhurst. Call us 24/7 at (888) 845-7241 or email us for a consultation today.

The Impact of Car & Trucking Accidents

Recently, a large, multi-vehicle collision happened on the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago. The accident, which included seven vehicles, one of them a dump truck, caused road blockages and a number of injuries. Following the incident, 11 people were sent to the hospital and five others refused treatment at the scene, where Illinois State Police, fire and emergency responders showed up to investigate and to help those involved.

Chicago Traffic Issues and Avoiding Accidents

Rush-hour traffic is already bad in the Windy City, even without accidents like this one. Accidents are often preventable when drivers are following the laws and paying attention to their surroundings. Driving under the influence of any substance, getting distracted by phones or other people, not following traffic laws and driving while tired all can lead to collisions and even if no one is physically injured, this can cause issues for other drivers and much of the city.

The accident referenced above left all inbound lanes blocked near 77th Street and the expressway, which surely was a headache for anyone trying to travel in and around Chicago that day. Additionally, both the city and the state use a lot of resources every time something like this happens, in the form of emergency responders.

Car and Trucking Accident Injuries

Dump truck

Freightliner M2 106 6×4 2014

Car accidents can cause great damage to drivers and passengers involved, but the impact increases when a truck is involved. Accidents involving tractor-trailers or similarly large trucks rarely result in minor injuries, especially when there are smaller vehicles in the collision.

The recent accident on the Dan Ryan Expressway involved a dump truck and it isn’t known what impact that had on the results of the accident. Statistically, there’s a good chance that it did contribute to the incident in a way that a car-only collision would not have, though, of course, any roadway accident is potentially dangerous to those involved.

Attorneys for Chicagoland Trucking and Car Accidents

If you have been involved in a car accident or trucking accident in Wheaton, Naperville, Elmhurst, Chicago, or the surrounding areas, the partners at Theisen & Roche can help. Our experienced Illinois injury lawyers will help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 24/7 at (888) 845-7241 or get a free case evaluation online.

Medical Malpractice Cases Not Declining

Despite the growing awareness and deepening concern for the issues and problems created by medical malpractice, recent statistics indicate that healthcare claims stemming from diagnostic and medication errors, as well as instances of surgical malpractice, continue to be on the rise. Any issues or complications that may interfere with the effective treatment and care of patients may have serious and long-lasting repercussions. Recent trends pertaining to medical malpractice should be cause for concern among patients and care providers alike.


According to a 2014 study, as many as 12 million Americans are incorrectly diagnosed each year. While a misdiagnosis may seem like a fairly minor error, especially when compared to mistakes made during treatment or even surgeries, being unable to accurately identify a disease or medical condition may delay effective treatment or result in patients undergoing a treatment process or procedure which may even be harmful. Ensuring that all patients are able to receive an accurate diagnosis is absolutely essential for ensuring that proper care is provided. Misdiagnosis commonly stems from a communication or documentation error but may also be the result of human error during the patient assessment process.

Medication Errors


By some reports, medical errors may result in as many as 1.3 million injuries each year. A very common and widespread form of malpractice, medication errors occur when patients are prescribed the wrong dose of a medication, combinations of medications that may produce harmful effects or even the wrong medication entirely. These errors typically stem from ineffective communication, but may also be the result of confusing medication names, poor handling or dispensing practices or medical records that may be incorrect or incomplete.

Surgical Malpractice

Even seemingly minor mistakes and errors made during a surgical procedure have the potential to cause very serious, long-lasting or even life-threatening consequences. Despite the potential severity of such mistakes, there may be as many as 4,000 instances of surgical malpractice that occur each year. Preventable mistakes made during surgery have the potential to cause significant harm to patients, even those who are undergoing minor procedures. Among the most severe dangers of surgical malpractice is the increased risk of infection, which may place patients at greater risk as well as requiring additional care to treat and manage.

Utilizing New Methods, Processes and Technology to Reduce Malpractice

New technology and a better understanding of how malpractice occurs are providing healthcare professionals with the means to reduce instances of medical errors by designing processes and procedures that may be completed more safely and accurately. From automated methods that ensure safer handing handling, monitoring and administration of medications to communications resources that make it easier for care providers and facilities to share patient records and information, there are several resources with the potential to improve accuracy and enhance the overall level of patient care.

Contact Theisen & Roche for Medical Malpractice Cases

Have you or a loved one been affected by one of the above forms of medical malpractice? For help in Chicago, Wheaton and surrounding areas in Illinois, contact the medical malpractice attorneys of Theisen & Roche Law Firm. We will fight to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Call us 24/7 at (888) 845-7241 or fill out our online form for a free consultation.

How Safe Are Self-Driving Cars?

It is clear that self-driving cars are the future of the automobile industry. Although a fully self-driving vehicle may not be available for another decade or so, current technology allows for autonomous vehicles or those with features that help drivers stay safe while on the road. How much safer will a vehicle that can drive itself be than one operated by a human?

Human Error Is a Leading Cause of Traffic Accidents

Most people consider themselves to be good drivers, and for the most part, human intuition is a valuable skill to have while operating a motor vehicle. However, people also tend to consider themselves better drivers than they actually are, which can lead to mistakes caused by arrogance or a belief that the other person made the mistake in a collision. A human could also drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs, which increases the odds of an accident. This is a scenario that would never occur if a computer is in charge of the car.

Cars Can Be Programmed to Communicate With Each Other

The ultimate goal is to allow self-driving vehicles to communicate with each other on the road. This may eliminate accidents caused by drivers following too closely or drivers who are driving too fast for road conditions. Computers in vehicles may also be able to learn about construction zones or accidents on a given route and avoid those problem spots. This saves time for the passenger while also increasing the odds of a safe trip.

Today’s Technology Takes Pride in Being Cautious

Makers of self-driving cars understand that even one accident involving injury or death to a passenger in one of their vehicles could put a hold on the technology. Therefore, they are designing the cars to obey traffic laws to the letter. When they become more mainstream, it is likely that cars will be programmed to drive at certain speeds or to take other actions by default that will eliminate or reduce the likelihood of a collision. So while the self-driving cars that currently exist are in the testing stage and not yet completely safe, it is something their creators are working on for the near future.

Who Is Liable If an Accident Occurs?


The car companies themselves have said that they will be liable if their vehicles get into an accident. To date, there has only been one accident known to have been caused by a self-driving vehicle. Insurance companies may even be able to use the data generated by these vehicles to customize rates per month, day or even per trip depending on where a person is going or the road and weather conditions at the time the car is in operation.

Self-driving vehicles have a ways to go before they are allowed to be sold commercially and driven on public streets. However, as more testing is done and consumers get used to autonomous features, it is likely that they will be proven to be a safe option for those looking for transportation.

Car Accident? Contact Chicago’s Theisen & Roche, LTD

If you’ve recently been in a car accident and are looking for legal representation, look no further. Theisen & Roche, LTD, are the premier accident attorneys in Wheaton, Aurora, Glen Ellyn and the surrounding areas. Fill out our online form for a consultation or call us at (888) 845-7241.

Fire and Explosion Cases Involving Samsung Galaxy Note 7s

Explosions and Recall of Galaxy Note 7

The recall of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7s has been in headlines after reports of the phones exploding or catching fire. After hearing of the reports, Samsung released an official statement saying, “In response to recently reported cases of the new Galaxy Note 7, we conducted a thorough investigation and found a battery cell issue.” In the same statement Samsung noted that they would stop sales of the phablet (phone/tablet hybrid). The official recall began on September 15, 2016. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission and Samsung highly encourage those with the phone to stop using the phone, turn it off, and participate in the exchange program that’s been set up. The phone has also been placed on the “no-fly” list by the Federal Aviation Administration and others.

galaxynote7Out of the 1 million phablets sold in the US, there have only been 92 incident reports – 55 reporting property damage and 26 reporting burns to their person. While the percentage of the Galaxy Note 7 that have caught fire is low, the incidents themselves cause more damage than simply losing a brand new phone to a fire or explosion. Among the Galaxy Note 7 incidents in the US, a Jeep and a garage were destroyed by the phone’s battery. Unfortunately, these are not the worst incidents. One phone exploded in the hands of a 6-year-old boy in Brooklyn, leaving him with burned hands and a fear of electronics. Another user in Florida, Jonathan Strobel, is suing Samsung after the device exploded in his pocket on September 9 (before the recall), leaving him with “severe burns” on his upper thigh and “in shock and extreme pain.”

Suing Samsung Over an Injury or Property Damage

Many US consumers, unlike Jonathan Strobel, may be unaware that they can file a lawsuit against companies after experiencing events such as these. A high or low number of reported incidents should not deter someone from seeking rightful compensation after a fire and/or explosion caused by a faulty product, especially if there are any emotional or financial setbacks. While Samsung has been actively dealing with the fallout of their explosive Galaxy Note 7s, other distributors of other harmful products may hold themselves less accountable.

Federal law also prohibits any person or company to continue the sale of a publicly-announced voluntary recall ordered by the CPSC. If you have purchased a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 after the recall on September 15th but prior to the corrected phone expected to release on September 21st, you may report that person or point of sale.

Contact Theisen & Roche For Fire and Explosion Cases in Illinois

Theisen & Roche, LTD. highly encourages Galaxy Note 7 owners to participate in Samsung’s Battery Safety Recall and Exchange Program. Since 97% of the phone sold in the US contain the faulty battery, you should participate even if you have not experienced an issue, to remove any threat of injury or damages. You may choose between a full refund, a downgrade to another Samsung phone with a refund on the price difference between phones, or a replacement of the Note 7 with a CPSC-approved battery. If you have experienced an incident because of the Galaxy Note 7, we encourage you to report the incident to CPSC and contact us here at Theisen & Roche.

Remember that US consumers have rights. Theisen & Roche aims to protect consumers from negligent parties and hold those parties accountable. Feel free to contact us at (630) 871-9003 or online in the case of any fire and/or explosion cases.