KAREN KIES DEGRAND leads the appellate practice of Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth LLC in Chicago. She has extensive experience representing clients before the appellate and supreme courts of Illinois, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and the appellate and supreme courts of Wisconsin and Indiana. In addition, she advises trial counsel regarding preservation of issues for appeal and handles post-trial proceedings.
An experienced trial lawyer, Ms. DeGrand defends attorneys and physicians in a wide range of professional liability matters. She has defended attorneys in a variety of practice areas including criminal defense, domestic relations, transactional work, estate planning and tort litigation.
Ms. DeGrand also has successfully defended product liability and employment actions and litigated business and insurance coverage disputes. She has guided her clients through insurance disputes involving contested interpretations of professional liability and commercial general liability policies.
Ms. DeGrand, the firm’s managing partner, is a former President of the Appellate Lawyers Association and is included in the annual listing of “Super Lawyers” and “Leading Lawyers” in the area of appellate practice. In 2015 she was named to Leading Lawyers’ list of Top 10 Women in Civil Appellate, and in 2016 she was inducted into the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, an organization with its membership limited to appellate lawyers with a minimum of 15 years of practice focusing substantially on appeals and possessing a reputation of recognized distinction as an appellate lawyer. Ms. DeGrand currently serves as a member of the Illinois Supreme Court’s Committee on Professional Responsibility.
Ms. DeGrand received her law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law, where she served as an associate editor of the University of Illinois Law Review. She received her undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, where she was awarded Bronze Tablet, the University’s highest recognition for academic excellence.
Recently, Ms. DeGrand handled the briefing and oral argument in a case resulting in an Illinois Supreme Court opinion in which the court broadly interpreted the Emergency Medical Services Systems Act, 210 ILCS 50/3.150(a) to reinstate a defense judgment for Ms. DeGrand’s client, a private ambulance service. See Wilkins v. Williams, 2013 IL 114310.
In the supreme court DBMS represented a private ambulance company and its driver in a negligence action. The supreme court had not previously interpreted the EMS Act in this setting, in which a motorist whose vehicle collided with the defendants’ ambulance challenged the qualified immunity provision of the EMS Act.
Ms. DeGrand persuaded the supreme court that the appellate court had erred in concluding that the EMS Act did not apply to bar the negligence claim of the plaintiff, who was not a patient being served by the ambulance service.
The supreme court held that the Act does not limit the types of plaintiffs to which the immunity applies; rather, it applies broadly to bar all civil actions for negligence claims arising in the course of providing non-emergency as well as emergency medical services.
The supreme court also agreed that the Vehicle Code, which the appellate court interpreted to establish a duty of care to refrain from negligence, did not address the separate issue of whether the EMS Act provides immunity to the defendants under the circumstances. Accordingly, the supreme court reinstated judgment for the DBMS clients.