In Firm News
amicus curiae brief

Kirsten M. Dunne

In May 2019, GWC attorney Kirsten M. Dunne filed an Amicus Curiae brief on behalf of the Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Association (ITLA) in a case currently pending before the Illinois Supreme Court.

How an Amicus Curiae Brief Serves the Law

An Amicus Curiae brief literally means a “friend of the court” brief. These briefs are filed by a person or group who is not a party to a legal action but who wishes to help the court reach the right result in important cases and situations where the court’s decision could have widespread effects on many other cases.

Ms. Dunne, who heads the Appellate department at GWC Injury Lawyers, recently volunteered to prepare an Amicus Curiae brief on behalf of the ITLA, a statewide organization of plaintiffs’ personal injury attorneys. The organization decided to file the brief because the rights of injury victims throughout the state could potentially be affected by the Supreme Court’s decision in that case.

The case of Andrews v. Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago arises from severe injuries sustained by a construction worker while working at a water reclamation plant. Throughout the case, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) has taken the position that Illinois’ Tort Immunity Act shields it from any liability, while the plaintiffs have argued that the Act does not apply to the facts of their case and that they are entitled to a jury trial.

The Circuit Court ruled that the Act protected the MWRD, but the appellate court reached an opposite conclusion. The Supreme Court’s decision will dictate whether the plaintiffs can proceed with their case.

GWC Attorney Honored for Her Work

Ms. Dunne has been widely recognized for her work in preparing Amicus Curiae briefs. On June 7, 2019, she was presented with the William J. Harte Amicus Volunteer Award in recognition of her efforts. She had previously received the award in 2016.

Ms. Dunne is grateful for the honors she has received for her work, especially since she believes Amicus Curiae briefs serve an important function in society.

“Unlike briefs filed by parties to a case, an Amicus brief focuses largely on public policy,” she said. “It’s a unique opportunity to help the Supreme Court completely appreciate the full range of consequences that could flow from its decision in any particular case. Writing such a brief is, in itself, a very rewarding experience.”