Verdicts and Judgments
March, 2020, Scott Gillman achieved summary judgment in Cook County for an insurer defending a declaratory judgment action in which the insurer was accused of breach of contract and bad faith for failing to continue to pay a property damage claim once the insurer discovered that the insureds had made material misrepresentations regarding the nature and timing of the claimed property damage.
January, 2020, Mark Ruda achieved a not guilty verdict for an individual who rented his house to Plaintiff and her family. Plaintiff contended that she fell down the stairs in the house due to a defective handrail that she claimed to have reported to the homeowner. Plaintiff claimed $60,000.00 of past medical treatment, $45,000.00 of future medical treatment and lost wages of $40,000.00. The homeowner presented evidence that, days before the fall, the Chicago Housing Authority not only inspected the entire residence, not locating any defect, but also did not receive any complaint from the Plaintiff of a defective handrail.
December, 2019, Dan Woods achieved a not guilty verdict on behalf of an insurer accused of breach of contract and bad faith for failing to pay a vehicle theft claim. The Plaintiff asserted that his SUV was stolen from his driveway under cover of darkness. The vehicle was found the following morning, badly damaged and across the street from the insured’s residence. Defense witnesses collectively expressed skepticism as to the likelihood of the subject vehicle being stolen and damaged yet returned to the owner, with no signs of a break-in or theft. The jury, who deliberated less than one hour after a three-day trial, answered two special interrogatories, specifically finding that a theft of the SUV had not occurred, and that the insured had made material misrepresentations to the insurer in the presentation of the claim.
December, 2019, Dan Woods successfully arbitrated a high-rise water loss case in Cook County, Illinois, defeating willful and wanton, negligence and fraud claims alleged against the Defendant, another condominium owner in the same building. The Plaintiffs had alleged a water loss and lack of a water shut-off valve resulted in several days of flooding and six floors of damage below the Defendant’s high-rise unit in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood. After hearing evidence, the arbitration panel found unanimously in favor of the Defendant and judgment was later entered in favor of the Defendant and against Plaintiffs.
November, 2019, Paul Festenstein achieved a not guilty verdict for the operator of a motor vehicle who Plaintiff accused of negligently causing a collision by driving in the “parking lane”, despite the fact that the Plaintiff was exiting a bank ATM driveway at the time. Plaintiff claimed $33,949.00 of medical expenses related to treatment of soft tissue injuries to her back, neck and shoulders, requiring physical therapy. The Defendant entered post-collision photographs into evidence showing that Plaintiff T-boned the Defendant at her right, front quarter-panel; indicating that it was Plaintiff who failed to yield the right-of-way and maintain a proper lookout, not Defendant.
October, 2019, Pete Schoonmaker achieved a not guilty verdict on behalf of an insurer accused of breach of contract and fraud in Iroquois County, Illinois. The insureds purchased a new home in Tennessee and were in the process of attempting to sell their existing home in Iroquois County. The home in Iroquois County did not appraise out and the purchaser of the property lowered her offer from $85,000 to $65,000. The offer was rejected by the insureds. A short time later, the fire occurred. The extensive damage to the home made the origin and cause investigation challenging. Further investigation revealed through social media postings and photos that the majority of the personal property for which the insureds were making claim had been removed from the home and taken to Tennessee. The Plaintiffs sough damages in excess of $250,000. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the insurer and also returned a special interrogatory confirming that the insureds had made material misrepresentations in the presentation of their claim.
October, 2019, Paul King achieved a not guilty judgment on an arbitration award in favor of the operator of a motor vehicle who Plaintiffs accused of negligently causing a collision by backing his city vehicle into their stopped vehicle. Plaintiffs claimed $7,584.00 and $6,546.00 of medical expenses related to treatment of soft tissue injuries. The Defendant denied backing his vehicle into the Plaintiffs’ vehicle. After hearing evidence, the arbitration panel found unanimously in favor of the Defendant and judgment was later entered in favor of the Defendant and against Plaintiffs.
September 2019, Peter Schoonmaker achieved dismissal of a first-party commercial breach of contract lawsuit on behalf of an insurer. He successfully argued that Plaintiff failed to comply with the two-year suit limitation set forth in the insureds’ policy of insurance.
June, 2019, Matt Cook and Pete Schoonmaker achieved summary judgment in favor of an insurer and its SIU investigator accused of malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The plaintiff was indicted for insurance fraud and the charges were subsequently dismissed by the criminal court. The Plaintiff appealed and in June, 2019, the First District Appellate Court affirmed.
May, 2019, Mark Ruda achieved a defense result in a tort case. The verdict was $155,000 with $115,000 in bills (rotator cuff surgery), the settlement demand was $290,000 and$360,000 was asked of the jury.
May, 2019, Mark Ruda and Paul King secured a dismissal of Plaintiff’s Appeal before the First District Appellate Court of Illinois. The underlying case was dismissed with prejudice in March, 2018 when the Judge held that Plaintiff’s claim was barred by the one-year contractual limitation period.
April, 2019, Matt Cook and Pete Schoonmaker secured a defense judgment in a first party claim arising from an alleged lightning strike to an in-ground pool. The Court ruled that the damage to the pool was not the result of a lightning strike but, rather, improper maintenance and resulting damage caused by earth movement.
April, 2019, Pete Schoonmaker and Paul King obtained judgment on behalf of a public library accused of violating plaintiff’s First Amendment and Civil Rights after being arrested shortly after leaving a public library.
April, 2019, Dan Woods achieved a not guilty verdict for an insurance company in a first-party claim involving claimed damages of over $350,000. The Plaintiff homeowner and her experts contended her 4,000 square foot luxury lake house had been severely damaged by high winds and rain, causing damage to the cedar shake roof, natural pine wood siding, and windows and frames on all sides, leading to major interior damage as well. Dan argued the actual storm damage was modest, and that the majority of the claimed damages were either preexisting or the result of wear and tear and improper maintenance, which were not covered by the policy of insurance.
April, 2019, Paul Festenstein obtained a verdict for less than an amount of an arbitration award in a low impact collision case. The key to the victory was Paul’s use of a low impact expert who testified that the speed transferred at impact was less than 3.9 miles per hour.
December, 2018, Mark Ruda achieved a defense result in a tort case when Plaintiff non-suited at trial because his treating doctor (pain management specialist) was barred from testifying and ordered to pay legal fees of $4,300 because of improper conduct related to his discovery deposition.
August, 2018, Scott Gillman achieved judgment on the pleadings in Kankakee County, Illinois for an insurance company client in a declaratory judgment action in which the Court ruled that the insurer had no duty to defend or indemnify an insured in an underlying personal injury action on his landlord policy because both the “workers compensation insurance” and “employment” exclusions applied where the underlying plaintiff alleged that the insured hired him to perform demolition at one of the insured’s rental premises.
July, 2018, Mark Ruda obtained a defense result in a tort case with admitted liability. The verdict was $855,000, with $500,000 in medical bills (anterior cervical fusion 2-day surgery) and an additional $500,000 in future expenses claimed. The settlement demand was $2,000,000 and they asked $3,250,000 of the jury.
June, 2018, Scott Gillman had summary judgment granted in McHenry County for an insurance company client in a declaratory judgment action in which the Court ruled that the insurer had no duty to defend or indemnify a purported additional insured that relied only on an improperly-issued Certificate of Insurance as support that it was an additional insured on a contractor’s policy.
June, 2018, Scott Gillman achieved summary judgment in Cook County, IL for a manufactured home dealer accused of fraud and negligence in which the Court ruled that the Dead Man’s Act barred Plaintiff’s testimony about what was said during the negotiations for the purchase of the manufacture home.
May, 2018, Scott Gillman achieved judgment on the pleadings in Whiteside County, Illinois for an insurer in a declaratory judgment action in which the Court ruled that the insurer had no duty to defend or indemnify an insured insofar as the insured’s alleged act of committing a battery upon another did not constitute an “occurrence”, as defined by the insurance policy.
2017, Mark Ruda achieved a defense result in a breach of contract case arising out of a collapse loss. Plaintiffs initially claimed $1,958,559 and the insurer paid $1,164,969. At trial Plaintiffs claimed they were owed an additional $683,684. The jury awarded damages of only $138,006 in damages.
August, 2016, Mark Ruda had summary judgment in favor of Allstate Insurance Company affirmed on appeal by the First District Appellate Court which confirmed that, in an Uninsured Motorist claim, the insured breached her policy of insurance by failing to execute a HIPAA authorization. The Court ruled that the Rules of the American Arbitration Association do not prohibit compliance with terms of the insurance policy.
July, 2014, Scott Gillman achieved dismissal with prejudice in Lake County, IL of subrogation action in which he argued that plaintiff insurance company did not exercise diligence in service of defendant HVAC contractor.
August, 2014, Guy Conti achieved summary judgment in Cook County, IL for the defendant-insurance carrier who was sued after denying a claim based on the vandalism and intentional act exclusion.
September, 2014, Paul Festenstein achieved a favorable settlement (representing less than 1% of the underlying judgment in a putative class action) in a TCPA “conversion” claim, (“Fax Blast” suit) after presenting his expert testimony on the truly di minimus nature of the claimed damages.
Mark Ruda recently tried a number of cases to successful conclusions:
Lapore v. CTA and Mustafa, where, on a re-trial of a case in which the Plaintiff was awarded $260,000, Mr. Ruda was able to hold the verdict against a motorist down to $47,000, which was only $1,000 above what he had offered to settle the case before trial.
Valdez v. Gerfinkle, where Mr. Ruda achieved a not guilty in favor of a motorist alleged to have struck a motorist in a cross-walk.
Tolliver v. Allstate Insurance, where Mr. Ruda achieved a not guilty in favor of an insurer alleged to have engaged in bad faith insurance practices.
Thompson v. Bajramovksi, where plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their case during the cross examination of one of the plaintiffs.
Davis v. Bambulas, where Mr. Ruda achieved a not guilty in favor of a motorist alleged to have been involved in a rear-end collision with the plaintiff.
Guy Conti had summary judgment in favor of Allstate Insurance affirmed on appeal by the First District Appellate Court which upheld the suit limitation period in a homeowner’s policy with respect to a mortgagee claim following a fire.
November, 2014, Scott Gillman achieved summary judgment in Cook County, IL for a client’s snow management business accused of negligent salt spreading in a case involving the slip and fall of a construction worker at an active construction site.
December, 2014, Guy Conti achieved a dismissal with prejudice in Cook County, IL of a case filed against the officer of a fraternity accused of negligence in the death of a member of the fraternity.
Guy Conti achieved summary judgment in Cook County, IL for the defendant-insurance carrier who was sued after denying a claim based on the vandalism and intentional act exclusion.
Speaking Engagements, Awards and Recognition
May, 2020, Peter Schoonmaker will make a presentation to the Illinois Chapter of the International Association of Special Investigation Units entitled “NFPA 921 and Negative Corpus- Where Are We Now?”.
March, 2020, Scott Gillman will make a presentation to the national Insurance Fraud Managers conference entitled, “The ‘Physics’ of Fire, Wind and Water Claims”.
October, 2019, Scott Gillman was a panelist for a panel discussion entitled “How to Avoid Bad Faith When Investigating a Fraudulent Property Claim” at the NSPII National Insurance Fraud Seminar.
September, 2019, Scott Gillman provided the legal perspective in a panel presentation to the Illinois Chapter of NSPII entitled “Event Data Recorders-Their Impact On Investigations”.
September, 2019, Mark Ruda made a presentation to the Illinois Chapter of the International Association of Special Investigation entitled “Defending Against Claims Involving Pain Management.”
May, 2019, Pete Schoonmaker made a presentation to the Illinois Chapter of the International Association of Special Investigation Units Annual Training Seminar entitled, “SIU and the Appellate Courts: Case Law Update”
February, 2017, Matthew Cook was named to Super Lawyers’ 2017 Illinois Rising Stars List for Insurance Coverage.
September, 2016, Paul Festenstein presented “Determining The Number Of Occurrences: Current Trends” at the Midwest Regional Meeting of PLRB in St. Louis, MO.
November, 2016, Paul Festenstein presented “Determining The Number Of Occurrences: Current Trends” at the Eastern Regional Meeting of PLRB in Richmond, VA.
January, 2014, Guy Conti presented “Identifying, Investigating and Litigating Suspicious Claims” to the Illinois Chapter of CLM in Schaumburg, IL.
February, 2014, Scott Gillman presented “Identifying Medical Provider Fraud” to NAMIC’s National Seminar in St. Augustine, FL.
May, 2014, Guy Conti presented “Litigation 102, Pleadings and Motions” to the Illinois Chapter of CLM in Schaumburg, IL.
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