Cases Pending Highlights Civil Cases In Illinois Supreme Court's November Term

November 09, 2019 12:03 PM | Carson Griffis (Administrator)

The Illinois Supreme Court’s November Term begins Tuesday, November 12, 2019, with oral arguments scheduled for November 13, 14, 19, and 20. A total of 14 cases will be heard – 8 criminal and 6 civil. The following civil cases are scheduled for argument this Term:

November 14

Lewis v. Atlantic Richfield Co.

November 19

Johnson v. Illinois State Police

Hess v. State Auto Insurance Companies

November 20

In re: Elena Hernandez

Joiner v. SVM Management, LLC

West Bend Mutual Insurance Company v. TRRS Corporation

Below is a summary for one of these cases, Lewis v. Atlantic Richfield Co. Summaries for this case and others pending in the Illinois Supreme Court can be found in our Cases Pending publication, accessible to ALA members on the ALA's website.

Lewis v. Atlantic Richfield Co.

This case involves the question of whether parents have standing to bring a claim for their minor child’s routine blood lead screening test, where the parents did not pay for the Medicaid-covered test, and where the child has no personal injury; but where the parents are liable for the expenses of their minor child under the Family Expense Act, 750 ILCS 65/15.   

Mary Lewis and Tashwan Banks were the lead plaintiffs in a class action brought against Defendants Atlantic Richfield Company, ConAgra Grocery Products, Inc., NL Industries, Inc., and The Sherwin-Williams Company.  They sought to recover the costs of blood lead screening their children underwent as required under the Illinois Lead Poisoning Prevention Act, 410 ILCS 45/1.  Their children were not injured and the tests were paid for entirely by Medicaid.  Defendants moved for summary judgment based on lack of standing, where Lewis and Banks incurred no expenses for the testing and their claims were solely for economic loss.  Lewis and Banks argued that they had standing because, under the Family Expense Act, they were responsible for the medical expenses of their minor children, and the collateral source rule gave them the right to recover for the lead toxicity testing.  The circuit court agreed with Defendants and granted them summary judgment.

The Illinois Appellate Court, First District reversed.  The appellate court explained that the parents had the legal obligation to pay for their children’s medical expenses and, therefore, the right to seek to recover for those medical expenses.  Further, the appellate court noted, that right of action was not affected by the fact that a third party actually paid the expenses.  It made no difference that the claims involved a purely economic injury.  The purpose of the collateral source rule, the appellate court reasoned, was to keep a tortfeasor from realizing a windfall, such as where the economic injury was shifted to a third party.  Here, the appellate court explained, the parents had the legal obligation to pay for lead testing – testing required because of Defendants’ civil conspiracy related to using lead in paint.  Defendants should not benefit from their civil conspiracy where, as here, a third party (and not the parents) paid for that statutorily-mandated testing. 

In their petition for leave to appeal, Defendants argued that the appellate court incorrectly found that Plaintiffs could bring a claim under the Family Expense Act, where they never incurred any obligation under the Act; and that the appellate court improperly extended the collateral source rule to purely economic damages, even if there was no personal injury.

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