Home Depot removes premises liability suit to federal court

Legal News Line Feb. 19, 2008, 9:00am

CHICAGO -- A premises liability suit against Home Depot was removed from Cook County to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on Feb. 11. The complaint stems from an incident in which the plaintiff, Barbara Molska of Chicago, was allegedly injured while walking the aisle of a Home Depot store in Chicago. According to the complaint, Molska was shopping at the store on May 2, 2005, when "a brick, or other foreign object of similar and substantial weight, fell from a high storage shelf and struck Plaintiff's head." Molska allegedly suffered severe and permanent injuries as a result. The plaintiff's discovery answers in the Cook County proceeding specified head trauma, neck and back pain, blurred vision, and post-concussion syndrome among the alleged effects of the incident. The plaintiff seeks compensation for medical bills (allegedly exceeding $60,000) and damages for pain and suffering. Since Home Depot is based in Georgia and the plaintiff resides in Illinois, Home Depot removed the case to federal court once it was clear that alleged damages could exceed the jurisdictional minimum. Molska's complaint was originally filed on April 16, 2007, by Scott Rudin of Miroballi, Durkin & Rudin, LLC of Chicago. Rudin's firm withdrew from the case on June 18, 2007 for reasons not specified in the withdrawal motion. Molska's case is now handled by Federico M. Rodriguez of Rodriguez Strohmeier LLC of Chicago. Rodriguez was certified to practice by the Illinois Bar in 1998 after finishing law school at the University of Illinois. According to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission registry, however, Rodriguez is "not authorized to practice law as attorney and is not currently registered with ARDC." The ARDC web site lists 2007 as his last year of registration. It is unclear whether Rodriguez failed to register for 2008 or if his registration status has simply not been updated. Home Depot is represented by Jonathan P. Schaefer of Purcell & Wardrope, Chtd., a tort and commercial litigation firm based in Chicago. The case is currently set before Judge Elaine E. Bucklo in the U.S. District Court and a scheduling conference is scheduled for March 7.

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