Successful Defense Of Rare Illinois Dead-Man’s Act Case

August 23, 2017

Patton & Ryan was recently called to defend a mass transportation company and its subsidiary in a rare Illinois Dead-Man’s Act case.

Prior to her death, Plaintiff, an elderly woman, suffered a fall as she attempted to exit a minivan. Allegedly, the Plaintiff was caused to fall because she was not assisted by the minivan operator as she attempted to exit. Plaintiff claimed injuries to her lower extremities and she was admitted to a hospital for approximately one week for treatment, testing, and observation. Following the incident, Plaintiff died from issues unrelated to the incident and, shortly thereafter, Plaintiff’s attorney disclosed two newly discovered independent witnesses who allegedly observed the incident. Plaintiff’s medical damages totaled more than $45,000.00 and the demand was more than $140,000.00.

Patton & Ryan vigorously and aggressively defended the matter by seeking out the two newly discovered witnesses and obtained statements from each witness that they had, indeed, not witnessed the incident, but merely arrived following the incident. In addition, Patton & Ryan quickly secured a voluntary dismissal for the mass transportation provider.

Ultimately, Patton & Ryan filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, which forced Plaintiff’s attorney to rely on the Illinois Dead-Man’s Act as both a sword and shield – a shield in that the minivan operator could not testify at trial as to the incident or any conversations with the Plaintiff, and a sword in that Plaintiff’s attorney alleged, in a cross Motion for Summary Judgment, that there was no genuine issue of material fact that the Plaintiff had fallen, which breached the duty to use the highest degree of care, as she attempted to exit the minivan.

Thereafter, John W. Patton, Jr., and his team retained an expert to successfully challenge the severity of Plaintiff’s injury and expose the numerous pre-existing conditions that, more likely than not, played a significant role in the incident. As a result of Patton & Ryan’s thorough investigation, diligent representation, and vigorous defense tactics, the case against the subsidiary successfully resolved for a tiny fraction of Plaintiff’s demand hours before the hearing on our Motion for Summary Judgment.