Case Summary: Walstad v. Klink
$2.5M verdict in porch case stands; case timely filed
In the case of Walstad v. Klink, a woman fell off the rear porch of an apartment building, resulting in her being paralyzed from the waist down. She had fallen through the yellow tape that the defendant had put up to act as a handrail.
On May 21, 2018, the state appeals court upheld the $2.5 million jury verdict awarded to the plaintiff rejecting the defendant’s argument that the lawsuit against the estate of her now-deceased husband had been untimely filed.
The plaintiff had originally filed a personal injury and premises liability complaint against the original defendant, the owner of the apartment building, and against the City of Chicago. In 2006, the original defendant’s wife, Klink, was added as a defendant by amendment. The City of Chicago filed a motion for summary judgment that was eventually granted by the trial court, dismissing the city as a defendant. While the dismissal was on interlocutory appeal causing the case to be stayed, both the original plaintiff and original defendant passed away. The plaintiff’s mother took over the lawsuit for her daughter but did not add the defendant’s estate as a party until 2013.
The defendant argued that the plaintiff had taken too long to name the estate as a party in her third amended complaint, violating 735 ILCS 5/2-619(a)(1), (2), and (5). The 1st District Appellate Court found that the Plaintiff’s third amended complaint had been timely filed because the defendant had known that a claim would have been brought against her husband’s estate and had notice of the claim. The court reasoned that the defendant’s argument went against 735 ILCS 5/2-616(d), which allows parties to add defendants in a lawsuit even when it would normally be time-barred if certain conditions were met. The court decided that in this case, these conditions had been satisfied.
The case had gone to trial in 2016 after being stayed for years due to the interlocutory appeal. During that time, along with the passing of both the original plaintiff and original defendant, the defendant’s wife filed for bankruptcy in 2015 before the jury issued a verdict in December 2016. Because of Klink’s declaration of bankruptcy, no insurance on the building, and the estate of the original defendant having no assets, the attorneys for both parties said that the plaintiff’s estate would collect nothing from the defendant’s and there ended up being no verdict to collect.