Remote court proceedings will continue in Cook County due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In July, Judge James Flannery of the Law Division of the Cook County Circuit Court signed General Administrative Order 20-6, providing guidance on the re-opening of Cook County courts and the extension of remote court proceedings. To safeguard the health of jurors, court employees and the public, all Law Division operations will resume via remote access.

Jury Trials

The setting of trial dates for jury cases is suspended until further notice. Start dates for jury trials scheduled between March 17 and December 31, 2020 are changed to trial setting dates. When jury trials resume, all participants will receive 30-days’ notice, providing the date, time, and manner for setting new trials.

Initial Case Management

Dates will be scheduled for approximately 180 days from the date of filing.

Case Management Procedures

To limit in-person presence in court, both case management and status court dates originally set to occur between March 17 and December 31, 2020 will be rescheduled to a date after January 4, 2021. However, judges may still choose to schedule or reset any court date prior to December 31, 2020. Rescheduled dates will be posted on the Clerk of the Circuit Courts electronic docket.

New form case management orders will be used in all cases, according to the case type. For new cases (cases filed after March 17, 2020), all parties will prepare a CMC order and submit to the assigned motion judge no later than 14 days after all parties have appeared, or no later than July 30, 2020. For pending cases, counsel will meet and confer to prepare a CMC order and submit to the assigned motion judge for approval prior to August 13, 2020.

Discovery

Case management and discovery will continue remotely via telephone and/or video conference. If parties disagree on how to proceed with discovery, the assigned judge has discretion to, upon motion, determine these issues.

Motion Section Procedure

During business hours, all regular, routine, and emergency motions must be submitted to the assigned motion judge’s email address (see list). All documents submitted must be in PDF format and comply with the motion judges’ standing order as well as the emailing requirements identified in Section 3.3 of the Order. For further information on the particular requirements for motions, and for the requirements pertaining to emergency motions, please reference the full text of the Order.

Newly Filed Motions: Motions electronically filed must use the “DO NOT SCHEDULE” option. Newly filed motions must also be emailed to the assigned judge, with copies sent to all parties. Motions previously e-filed and scheduled for presentation between March 17 and December 31 of this year, that have not had a brief or an additional order issued regarding the motion, are stricken and need to be renoticed pursuant to Section 1.7.

Standing Order for Remote Participation

The Cook County Law Division also has issued a standing order detailing the guidelines and expectations for parties engaging in remote court proceedings.

Illinois Supreme Court Rule 45 allows the court to let participants engage in a remote court proceeding by phone or video conference. Sworn testimony cannot be taken remotely. However, if good cause is shown, a court may allow one or more participants in a civil trial or evidentiary hearing to testify remotely pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 241.  See our related post.

Generally, the protocols dictated by the standing order include:

  • Witnesses can appear and offer testimony remotely by phone or video conference. The court or a video conference service must initiate video conferences.
  • The public may view remote court proceedings by utilizing a link to the connection. More information regarding public access is located under Section 1.11.
  • Only the Court Reporter can record the virtual proceedings, unless the court has issued an order stating otherwise.
  • Parties participating in remote court proceedings waive their right to be present in the courtroom and to physically present witnesses.
Asbestos Calendar

General Administrative Order 20-6 does not apply to the Asbestos Litigation Calendar (J1). Instead, the Asbestos Calendar has its own controlling administrative order. Asbestos Motion Calls will continue to commence every other Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. CST until further notice. Additionally, the Asbestos Litigation Calendar has provided Zoom information for Asbestos trial and motion calls.

Husch Blackwell summer associate Kelli Weiss contributed to this blog post.

In May, the Illinois Supreme Court significantly revised its rules related to remote proceedings – including court appearances, video conferences, and civil trials. These changes aim to improve the administration of justice by increasing efficiency and decreasing costs, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes became effective immediately. Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Illinois Overhauls Rules Related to Remote Proceedings

In April, the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Louisiana upheld the reduction of a large toxic tort verdict in James Gaddy, et al. v. Taylor-Seidenbach, Inc., et al., No. CV 19-12926. Plaintiff sought reconsideration of the remitted verdict which reduced the jury’s initial award of general damages from $7.5 million to $3 million. Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Louisiana Upholds Reduction of a Large Toxic Tort Verdict

Iowa became the first state to enact a law addressing the over-naming of defendants in asbestos litigation this month. Signed June 1, the new law requires a plaintiff to file a sworn affidavit, in addition to the initial pleading, with specified evidence as a basis for his or her claim against each named defendant. Failure to provide this information against a defendant results in dismissal of that defendant. More details on the bill (SF2337) in our previous post. Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Iowa Enacts Over-Naming Law

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, courts and litigants are reinventing civil litigation – holding hearings on Zoom or Skype, using emails and conference calls to communicate status, and taking remote depositions. That said, “virtual discovery” is not new. Since 1993, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure expressly authorized taking depositions by remote electronic means. States including Ohio, Massachusetts and Texas have followed suit. See, e.g., Ohio R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6); Mass. R. Civ. P. 29; Tex. R. Civ. P. 199.1
Continue Reading Pitfalls of Remote Depositions

St. LouisSt. Louis City Judge Michael K. Mullen recently entered an important order interpreting Missouri’s 2019 legislation governing joinder and venue law. See Order, Johnson v. Bayer Corporation, et al., 1622-CC01049-01 (Mo. Cir. Ct. St. Louis Cty. May 5, 2020) (Johnson). Put simply, St. Louis City’s automatically-generated trial docket dates (the “rolling docket”) do not satisfy the eligibility requirement of a having a “trial date” on or before August 28, 2019 within the savings clause. Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Venue Statute’s Savings Clause Clarified by St. Louis City Order

Many cities and states have issued guidance regarding face coverings, social distancing, and other safety measures for employees. When each state has different, rapidly evolving guidance, and sometimes conflicting guidance, this can quickly become confusing.  However, failure to establish policies and obtain consent can expose startups to litigation.

Startups may have questions and concerns regarding best practices for reopening and reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19. To address these concerns and mitigate risk, we have compiled a number of return-to-work policies and procedures for startups to consider.

Face Coverings

  • Provide each employee with a washable, reusable mask.
  • Investigate any instances of non-compliance consistently and fairly (without violating the ADA).
  • Refrain from making assumptions about employees with known pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Avoid automatic exclusions for individuals perceived as vulnerable when creating and implementing return-to-work policies and procedures.

Symptom-Monitoring

  • Implement symptom-monitoring protocols for employees and visitors (could be anything from self-monitoring symptoms to temperature scan stations).
  • Determine what temperature threshold is required for your work site (the CDC recommends 100.4°F (38°C) but some states have a lower threshold).
  • Do not retain any employee symptom information to avoid a potential violation of the ADA’s confidential information requirements.

Cleaning Requirements

  • Establish and maintain cleaning protocols specific to the needs and nature of your business.
  • Identify high touch areas, such as door handles and light switches, and frequently clean and sanitize these areas.
  • Provide hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes in various areas throughout the workplace.
  • Review state-specific cleaning requirements and implement these procedures accordingly.

The best way to mitigate risk is to have return-to-work policies and procedures in place.  Since every startup is unique, we recommend creating a plan specifically for your employees, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders.  If you have specific questions regarding your startup’s return-to-work plan, please reach out to your Husch Blackwell attorney or consider using our Return-to-Work Policy Generator customized to your specific business.

Map of Illinois.On June 4, the Illinois Supreme Court issued an opinion that further limits the exercise of personal jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants in Christy Rios et al., v. Bayer Corporation et al., and Nichole Hamby et al., v. Bayer Corporation et al., 2020 IL 125020. At issue was whether “Illinois may exercise specific personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant as to the claims of out-of-state plaintiffs for personal injuries suffered outside of Illinois from a device manufactured outside of Illinois.” Following rulings from the United States Supreme Court and those from other states, the court answered with a resounding: “no.”

Continue Reading Illinois Reins in Exercise of Personal Jurisdiction over Out-of-State Defendants for Nonresidents’ Claims

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has initiated Section 301 investigations on Digital Services Taxes adopted or under consideration by various countries which could lead to new punitive tariffs and increased global trade tensions. Husch Blackwell’s International Trade and Supply Chain group is following the developments. Get all the details on the International Trade Insights blog.

 

On March 10, 2020, in a 54 to 46 vote, the Iowa House of Representatives passed Senate File 2337 (SF2337) in an effort to reduce the over-naming of asbestos defendants in related lawsuits filed in Iowa.  The legislation focuses on reducing, or eliminating, the over-naming of asbestos defendants by requiring plaintiffs to provide detailed evidence of exposure for each named defendant. While Iowa is not known as a hot-spot for asbestos-related lawsuits, Iowa has reportedly seen its fair share of alleged asbestos related deaths.¹ Iowa’s lack of asbestos filings likely comes as a result of the state’s significant tort reform efforts, with SF2337 being the latest addition.

Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Over-Naming of Asbestos Defendants Bill Awaits Iowa’s Governor