Concealment Of Plaintiff's Death Voids Subsequent Settlement
Plaintiff filed a product liability action in connection with a prosthesis which failed. The case dragged on for almost five years. Shortly before trial was scheduled, the case settled. Unknown to the defendant, plaintiff had died eight months earlier. Defendant first learned of the death during the exchange of settlement documents and moved to vacate the settlement. The motion was denied.
The Fifth District reversed. An attorney's employment is revoked by the death of the client. As there was no plaintiff at the time of settlement, plaintiff's law firm had no authority to act after their client's death. The court found it troubling that plaintiff's attorney intentionally concealed a material fact that would have reduced the overall value of the claim for damages. Given intentional misrepresentations and material omissions during settlement negotiations, the court held settlement was invalid and unenforceable. Robison v. Orthotic and Prosthetic Lab, Inc., 2015 IL App (5th) 140079.