DBMS secured a victory on behalf of a large manufacturer before the Illinois Second District Appellate Court. The Appellate Court affirmed the trial court’s entry of summary judgment in a high-risk product liability case involving an industrial accident that resulted in significant injuries to the plaintiff.
In October 2007, a factory worker was tasked with cleaning the rollers of a two-ton machine that creates thin plastic film for insulation and fireproofing. The machine was to be turned off during the cleaning process. However, the plaintiff attempted to clean it while it was running, and both of his arms were torn off at the shoulder.
The man filed suit against multiple parties in the Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County. After the other parties either settled or were dismissed, DBMS’s client was the only defendant left.
The plaintiff argued that the defendant manufacturer was liable because it was in a joint venture with the company that made the plastic wrap and was therefore the plaintiff’s employer and responsible for training and supervising him.
The plaintiff demanded $10 million.
DBMS argued that the two companies were not in a joint venture, and the defendant company was not the plaintiff’s employer. It was further argued that even if the company was his employer, the company would be shielded for the claim under the exclusive remedy provision of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, which prevents employees injured on the job from making tort liability claims against their employer.
DBMS filed an affirmative defense contending that even if plaintiff could prove a joint venture, then the defendant would be protected by the exclusive remedy provision of the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act as it would be entitled to the same protection as the plaintiff’s actual employer. The court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment based on these arguments.
The case was argued in June 2018, and the Appellate Court affirmed the summary judgment ruling on the trial court.
The case was featured in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, available here (subscription required).