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Practice News

Petrovic v. The Department of Employment Security

By Alyssa M. Reiter, Williams Montgomery & John Ltd.

This case, involving a denial of unemployment insurance benefits based upon employee misconduct, provided an opportunity for the Court to clarify the type of misconduct required and the proof necessary to justify such denial.

Petrovic applied for unemployment insurance benefits after she was terminated by American Airlines for misconduct at work. Petrovic had requested that the catering department deliver champagne to a customer and had asked a flight attendant to upgrade that passenger to first class.

The Department of Employment Security denied the request for unemployment benefits and the Board of Review affirmed that determination. Following further review, the case proceeded to the Supreme Court.

Because the applicable statute required that an employee’s violation be “deliberate and willful,” it necessarily required evidence that the employee was aware that her conduct was prohibited. In this case, there was no evidence in the record of a reasonable American Airlines rule or policy prohibiting Petrovic’s conduct. The employer’s sole witness at the administrative hearing testified only that “policies and procedures were not followed” but did not identify any specific rule or policy. Further, statements contained within the employer’s written protest were not legally competent evidence. The protest was merely a pleading and any facts alleged within the protest had to be substantiated with competent evidence.

ISBA Past President John O'Brien discusses what to consider when advising your residential real estate client on taking title.

ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews legislation in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers Township Code I (Senate Bill 2287), Township Code II (Senate Bill 2288), Township Code III (Senate Bill 2412), The Biometric Information Privacy Act (Senate Bill 2409) and Citation on behalf of estate (Public Act 99-497). More information on each bill is available below the video.

Township Code I. Senate Bill 2287 (Althoff, R-McHenry) requires that a referendum be submitted to the voters after a petition by at least 5% of the registered voters seeking to discontinue and abolish the township’s organization and to transfer all the rights, powers, and responsibilities of the township organization to the county. Applies to a singular township organization within one county. Requires that the township officers of any township that is discontinued continue as officers of that township until the expiration of the respective terms for which they were elected or appointed. Further provides that a county may retain its form of government after all townships have been dissolved. Referred to the Committee on Assignments.

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am a lawyer from the Carbondale area. Last week I attended your Illinois State Bar Association CLE Webinar - Law Practice Succession and Transition - Ideas for Getting Started. I am 66 years old and I fit the "Sole Owner" model that you discussed. I am the practice. I have one associate and one legal assistant and my associate has neither the desire or the ability to take over my practice. I am tired and want to retire by the end of the year. With no successors in sight, I am thinking I should just close the doors. I welcome your thoughts.

By Mike O'Connor, ISBA Standing Committee on Delivery of Legal Services

By now, every Illinois attorney whose practice involves even a little bit of family law knows (or should know) that major changes were made to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMMDA), effective January 1, 2016. There have been several excellent articles in ISBA publications summarizing and discussing the revisions, so, without getting into the details, what is important to know is that the changes are significant and involve matters of both procedure and substance. 

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am the managing member of an 14-attorney firm in Miami. We initiated discussions with a large firm in Boston concerning the possibility of our firm merging with their firm. We met with one of their partners recently at their offices and he presented our interest to his other partners. He has advised us that there is an interest in having us meet the other equity partners and taking discussions to the next level. He would like some initial financial information from us. We feel we must provide them with some financial information at this point, but are unsure what to provide at this stage. I would like to hear your thoughts.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Friday's Illinois Supreme Court Civil opinions in Coleman v. East Joliet Fire Protection District and Klaine v. Southern Illinois Hospital Services.

Coleman v. East Joliet Fire Protection District

By Alyssa M. Reiter, Williams, Montgomery & John Ltd.

In this divisive case, the Supreme Court departed from stare decisis and “determined that the time has come to abandon the public duty rule and its special duty exception.”

The public duty rule provided that local governmental entities and their employees owe no duty of care to individual members of the general public to provide governmental services, such as police and fire protection.

The Court based its ruling on three considerations: (1) the jurisprudence regarding the public duty rule was “muddled and inconsistent”; (2) application of the public duty rule is incompatible with the legislature's grant of limited immunity in cases of willful and wanton misconduct; and (3) determining public policy is primarily a legislative function and, by enacting statutory immunities, the legislature had rendered the public duty rule obsolete.

The special concurrence by Justice Freeman, joined by Justice Theis, agreed that the public duty rule must be abolished, but offered alternative justifications for the abolition. Justice Thomas, joined by Chief Justice Garman and Justice Karmeier, dissented, criticizing that the majority and concurring opinions were indefensible and that “both make a mockery of stare decisis.”

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Friday's top Illinois Supreme Court Criminal opinions in People v. Cummings, People v. Tolbert, People v. Chambers, People v. Sanders, People. v. Williams, People v. Lerma, People v. Thompson and People v. Salem.

People v. Cummings

By Kerry J. Bryson, Office of the State Appellate Defender

Derrick Cummings was driving a van registered to Pearlene Chattic when an officer initiated a traffic stop because Chattic was the subject of an arrest warrant. The officer could not see the driver before initiating the stop. Upon approaching, he saw Cummings was a man and thus, clearly, was not Chattic. The officer asked Cummings for his license, and defendant responded he did not have one. Cummings was then cited for driving while license suspended.

The circuit court granted suppression, and the appellate court affirmed. Initially, the Illinois Supreme Court followed suit. On remand from the United States Supreme Court to reconsider its earlier opinion in light of Rodriguez v. U.S., 135 S. Ct. 1609, however, the Court reversed.

Filing paper court documents in civil cases will soon be a thing of the past in Illinois.

Chief Justice Rita B. Garman and the Illinois Supreme Court on Friday announced that the electronic filing of documents in civil cases will be required in the Supreme Court and five districts of the Appellate Court effective July 1, 2017, and in all circuit courts effective January 1, 2018.

The announcement marks the latest step in the Court's ongoing effort to utilize technology to make the court system more efficient. The Court's statewide e-filing initiative will provide a streamlined process for filing documents, conserve environmental resources and time, and generate long-term savings.

“When I was sworn in as Chief Justice in October 2013, one of the several goals that I announced was the increased use of technology in our courthouses and courtrooms, both to make the judicial system more efficient and to make the work of the courts more transparent. At that time, the e-filing pilot project had been completed. I am pleased that we have now reached the point where the technology is available to implement e-filing statewide at all levels of our judicial system,” Chief Justice Garman said.

“While full implementation will not be achieved during my term as Chief Justice, we have established a workable timetable, and I look forward to being involved as we address any challenges or concerns that mandatory e-filing may raise.”

The Supreme Court of Illinois announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on January 21, 2016, during the January Term of Court. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.


  • David Andre Bertha, Chicago

Mr. Bertha, who was licensed in 2002, was disbarred and he is required to pay certain restitution as a condition of any reinstatement. He converted over $13,000 in client escrow funds, neglected client matters entrusted to him, made scurrilous accusations and threats against judges, lawyers and others, and tendered a false court order and bank statement to a client.

  • Anthony Campanale, Chicago

Mr. Campanale, who was licensed in 1980, was disbarred on consent. He pled guilty to a federal charge of mail fraud affecting a financial institution. In his plea, he admitted to participating in a scheme to defraud lenders and their successors and to obtain money and property from lenders by means of materially false and fraudulent representations.

  • Robert Kenneth Lock, Jr., Chicago

Mr. Lock, who was licensed in 1989, was disbarred on consent. While suspended from the practice of law in a prior disciplinary matter, he engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in a foreclosure matter and misled his client and other attorneys about his handling of that matter.