Trial Notebook


Mom gets second chance at pleading recklessness

The Illinois Appellate Court gave Cindi Mathias another shot at alleging that the permanent injury her son, T.M., suffered to his dominant hand when he crashed into an unpadded concrete wall while playing “scramble ball” during a gym class at Winnebago High School was caused by a teacher’s willful and wanton conduct. Focusing on the fuzzy line between ordinary and gross negligence, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed a Winnebago County judge’s decision to toss Mathias’s complaint against Winnebago Community Unit School District 323 and the teacher, Brent Thompson. The defendants had immunity against a lawsuit alleging regular negligence, and the “ultimate facts” alleged by Mathias did not add up to willful and wanton conduct. But the trial judge abused her discretion by dismissing the case with prejudice. Mathias v. Winnebago Community Unit School District, 2021 IL App (2d) 200039-U (Jan. 25, 2021).

For the Defense


Discovery orders need teeth

The direct effect of discovery deficiencies is often delay in the resolution of a matter and not much else. However, as has been referenced in this space on Jan. 20 and Feb. 17, in order to properly evaluate the consequences of a policy, one must look beyond the immediate and see the unseen result.

Employment Law


To vaccinate or not to vaccinate: Considerations for employers

In December, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidance for employers regarding mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations and potential implications under multiple federal laws. Since then, many employers have been evaluating whether to mandate vaccines, incentivize employees to obtain vaccines or do nothing on this point.

Federal Courts


7th Circuit rejects expert who had little exposure to skid loader

Today’s 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals case involves the admissibility of a professional engineer’s opinion that a skid-steer loader that tipped on a ramp was defective where the engineer never used or tested any skid-steer loader, let alone the accident one, and did not know the accident facts.

Cotter's Corner


Talk of Breyer retirement swirls, while he questions court’s image

Justice Stephen Breyer is 82 years old, a Breyer’s classic. He currently ranks as the 26th longest serving justice in Supreme Court history, who in September will surpass Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to become the 24th longest serving. There are calls for Breyer to retire.

Professionalism on Point


Three lessons in professionalism learned from the COVID pandemic

Is it just me or does returning to the office and “the way things were” worry anyone else? While there are some pre-pandemic habits I hope won’t resurface in my daily life, I’ve learned a lot over the past year that I hope to carry with me.

Opening Statement


A special rendition of a well-known story in ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’

In 1797, the famous German author, philosopher and poet Johan Wolfgang von Goethe wrote the poem “Der Zauberlehrling,” known in English as “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”

Lex Sportiva


Sports betting app targeted for unfair, deceptive trade practices

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which ultimately prohibited sports gambling in the United States, was unconstitutional. Murphy v. NCAA, 138 S. Ct. 146 (2018). SCOTUS held that PAPSA violated the anti-commandeering doctrine because PAPSA essentially dictated what state legislatures could and could not do. In the few years since Murphy, sports gambling has already been legalized by several states nationwide.

Opening Statement


‘Duchess!’ gives room to discuss increased pressure on women

Although Vivian J.O. Barnes is still finishing graduate school in playwriting her show “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!” was produced by Steppenwolf Theatre and is available online until Aug. 31.

Opening Statement


With new ownership, Second City ready to resume performances

As the first year of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic, which darkened theaters throughout the country draws to a close, there are about to be brighter days ahead.

Opening Statement


Unanswerable questions require important texts for deep thought

One of my favorite panels of Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic strip when Charlie Brown and his nemesis Lucy are looking at the night sky.

Opening Statement


Kane shines in modern telling of ‘Iliad’ at Court Theatre

Finally, two productions I can recommend without question.
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