The McDonald’s Coffee Case in 1994

The story of a woman who sued McDonald’s over hot coffee – and won – is one of the most famous legal cases in recent history. The media portrayed 81-year-old Stella Liebeck’s case as absurd, and public opinion followed the same thought pattern. However, there is more to this case than most people know.

What Really Happened?

The situation happened at a McDonald’s in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1992. Liebeck spilled hot coffee from the fast food restaurant on her legs while in the car – that part is well-known. Two years later, the court ruled in favor of Liebeck and she was awarded $2.9 million. To learn Liebeck’s full story, and to finally hear the facts in the case, visit this link or watch the video below.

Do You Have A Personal Injury Case?

If you need legal representation for your personal injury case in Chicago or the surrounding areas, contact Theisen & Roche today. You can call us 24/7 at (888) 845-7241, or fill out this form for a free case evaluation.

Two New Acts Amend the Code of Civil Procedure in Illinois

Governor Pat Quinn signed SB 2221 and SB 3075 into law on Friday, December 19. Both bills will be effective beginning June 1, 2015.

SB 2221, now Public Act 98-1131, amends the Code of Civil Procedure by removing the 10-year statute of repose for causes of action related to exposure to asbestos only. Victims that suffer injuries and diseases would no longer be denied access to justice solely due to the latent nature of their injuries. Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA) President John D. Cooney testified in both chambers on this bill. SB 2221 was sponsored in the Senate by Senator Kwame Raoul. Representative Elaine Nekritz sponsored the bill in the House.

SB 3075, now Public Act 98-1132, amends the Counties Code and the Code of Civil Procedure regarding jury service in Illinois. Specifically, the bill does the following:

  • Increases the minimum payment for jury service to $25 for the first day and $50 for subsequent days.
  • Offsets part of the proposed increase in payment for jury service by removing the current requirement that counties pay for the travel expenses of jurors, and by cutting the number of jurors in civil cases from 12 to 6. The amendment also requires the parties to pay for alternate jurors.
  • Mirrors federal law and that of many states by reducing the size of civil juries from 12 to 6 in Illinois. The requirement of unanimous decision is unchanged.

SB 3075 was sponsored in the Senate by Senator John Mulroe. Representative Kelly Burke sponsored the bill in the House.

How Much is a Brain Injury Worth?

This blog entry was provided by Spencer Farris, a personal injury lawyer at The S.E. Farris Law Firm in St. Louis, Missouri.

If you have suffered a brain injury or are the family member of a brain injury victim, how much could you get from a jury? The answer to that question depends on the facts of the case, how much is needed to pay for medical bills and how much a jury is willing to award for pain and suffering and other related issues. Attorney Spencer Farris has dealt with personal injury cases of this caliber and wants readers to understand these types of claims.

How Did the Injury Occur?

Not all brain injuries are suffered in the same way. In some cases, a car accident victim is left with permanent brain damage in an accident that the victim had no role in causing. In other cases, a brain injury occurs during a complicated surgery that the patient knew was risky from the beginning. In the first example, the victim could win compensation worth millions of dollars. However, in the second example, the victim may get a token amount or win nothing from a jury.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention provides an online fact sheet for traumatic brain injuries in the U.S.

How Much is Needed?

In the event that a brain injury occurs through no fault of the victim, the negligent party will be on the hook for all medical expenses related to the injury. This could mean that the negligent party pays for time spent in the hospital, the cost of physical therapy and the cost for long-term care such as medication to control seizures or for a nurse that will tend to the needs of the patient in the home.

Will a Jury Award Damages for Pain and Suffering?

A jury may allow for damages to be awarded for pain and suffering or emotional distress suffered by the victim or the family of the victim. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, the victim could be awarded millions of dollars at trial. Additionally, the attorney for the negligent party may decide to settle for more than the cost of medical bills in an effort to avoid a trial in the first place.

Victims Should Hire a Lawyer Right Away

The first step that a victim or the victim’s family should take is to hire an attorney. This is because the insurance company or the lawyers for the negligent party are going to try to pressure the victim into a settlement that is less than what the victim could win at trial. Having an attorney by your side ensures that the rights of the victim are preserved and the party or parties responsible for the injury are forced to pay a fair amount. When hiring an attorney, it is important to hire someone who has a great track record getting the most from guilty parties. It may be possible to win a large settlement simply because the other side knows that your attorney means business and to fight the case is futile.

How much is a brain injury worth? It all depends on who your lawyer is, what happened to cause the injury and how much it will cost to treat the injury. If you get a good lawyer, it may be possible to get millions of dollars and ensure that you are financially secure for life.

Section 2301 Enacts New Rules for Civil Settlements in Illinois, Affecting Defendants and Insurers

Governor Quinn signed Public Act 098-0548, amending the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, on August 26, 2013, which took effect on January 1, 2014.

The new statute, 735 ILCS 5/2-2301, or better known as Section 2301, addresses settlements and liens in civil cases by providing deadlines for exchanging settlement documents and payment after a civil matter is settled. Furthermore, Section 2301 imposes penalties upon defendants, such as the entry of judgement and costs if the defendant fails to provide the settlement draft within 30 days of the receipt of certain settlement documents.

This new law applies to cases involving personal injury, property damage, wrongful death and tort actions that involve claims for money actions. The statute does not apply to class action lawsuits, and exempts certain entities, including the State of Illinois, state agencies, state employees, municipalities and local governments.

Click here to read the full article.

Legislative Alert: Governor Quinn Signs SB 1912 into law (Now Public Act 98-548)


Governor Quinn Signs SB 1912 into law (Now Public Act 98-548)

Public Act 98-548 seeks to ensure timely payment of settlements by setting reasonable deadlines. It allows ample time for preparation of documents including the necessary releases and finalization or protection of liens. If payment is not made within the statutory period, the court, after a hearing, can enter a judgment for the plaintiff on the settlement amount plus costs of obtaining the judgment and statutory interest already applicable to judgments.

Effective date is January 1, 2014.

Public Act 98-548 was sponsored by Senator Kwame Raoul and Representative Elgie Sims.

Click here for a full text of the legislation.

Stephen D. Phillips, President
Illinois Trial Lawyers Association

Legislative Alert: Governor Quinn Signs SB 1898 into law. Now Public Act 98-519


Governor Quinn Signs SB 1898 into law. Now Public Act 98-519.

Public Act 98-519, which was backed by ITLA, amends the Illinois vehicle code. SB 1898 includes the following provisions:

Public Act 98-519 increases the minimum mandatory coverage amounts for liability insurance policies in this State and increases the amounts sufficient to satisfy a judgment following a motor vehicle accident as follows: bodily injury or death to any one person from $20,000 to $25,000; bodily injury or death to more than one person from $40,000 to $50,000; and injury or destruction of property of others from $15,000 to $20,000. Effective January 1, 2015.

Public Act 98-519 was sponsored by Senator Daniel Biss and Representative Laura Fine.

Click here for a full text of the legislation.