EducationMs. Barcenas earned her Juris Doctor and Certificate in Advocacy from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 2018, where she was the Student Director for the Loyola Life After Innocence legal clinic. She graduated from Boston University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Philosophy.
AdmissionsMs. Barcenas was admitted to the Illinois bar in 2018.
Ms. Barcenas was admitted to the Northern District of Illinois in December, 2018.
LeDuc v Peddinghaus Corporation
Lipe Lyons obtained a very favorable result following a nearly three-week trial in a product liability lawsuit involving an industrial drilling machine. The plaintiff’s leg was traumatically amputated below the knee and she asked the jury to award her over $31 million in damages. Peddinghaus Corporation, the only defendant, was assessed damages totaling just $267,774.25.
Peddinghaus designed and installed an industrial drilling machine at PKM Steel in Salina, Kansas. Plaintiff was operating the machine when her lower left leg was crushed and traumatically amputated by a 27-foot steel angle that exited the machine. She argued the machine was unreasonably dangerous because its safety devices were not installed where they were shown on the installation plans, leaving the area where she was standing at the time of the accident unguarded. After the accident her employer, PKM Steel, moved the safety devices to that location. She further argued Peddinghaus knew she had to work in the area where steel exited the machine because its design required her to walk through the area to perform daily maintenance. She claimed Peddinghaus employees had expressed concern about work in that area yet failed to guard it. She also argued Peddinghaus failed to provide adequate warnings because the machine did not have a flashing light or audible signal that indicated steel was about to exit the machine.
We argued the machine was appropriately guarded and Plaintiff did not need to stand where she was at the time of the accident to do her job. It could not install the safety devices where they were shown on the installation plans because an electric box was in the way. To the extent that additional guarding was needed, PKM Steel had to provide the guarding as the integrator of the manufacturing system. We further argued that Plaintiff was the only person to be injured by the machine during its 11 years of operation. She was a trained operator and knew or should have known not to stand where steel exited the machine while it was running. The warnings on the machine and in the instruction manual told Plaintiff not to stand where she was at the time of the accident. Lastly, we argued that PKM Steel pressured Plaintiff to work unsafely in order to meet production goals.
The jury returned a gross verdict of $5,355,485 but allocated just 5% of the fault to Peddinghaus. It allocated 45% of the fault to Plaintiff and the remaining 50% to PKM Steel.
Midwest Integrated Companies v. MDOT et al.
Jordan Tank and Alejandra Barcenas sought declaratory and injunctive relief on behalf of their client, Midwest Integrated Companies, LLC, which collects and recycles railroad ties for use as environmentally-friendly fuel in power plants. Midwest transported the fuel over the road under a special oversize/overweight permit issued by Minnesota. When the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Minnesota State Patrol unexpectedly decided that Midwest’s permit did not allow it to transport the fuel, their interpretation threatened both Midwest’s business and a critical source of fuel for Minnesota’s power plants. After Lipe Lyons filed suit and an accompanying memorandum explaining how the new interpretation was contrary to the statutory authority and legislative intent, Minnesota’s Attorney General quickly agreed to resolve the issue outside of court, and Midwest was able to resume supplying power plants with the fuel they need.
Beverly Materials, LLC v Midwest Material Management, LLCApril 22, 2019
In a commercial eviction/business dispute, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Lipe Lyons' client after less than 10 minutes of deliberations. The plaintiff landlord sought eviction of its tenant. The defendant alleged the plaintiff sought eviction to retaliate against it and to shut down its business because it was competing with another business that an owner of the plaintiff started operating next to it just six weeks before the plaintiff filed suit. After the tenant signed the lease at issue, it helped the plaintiff develop the business that started just six weeks before the suit was filed, with the expectation that it would be allowed to operate the business once it opened to the public. However, the plaintiff's owner decided he would rather have the defendant remain where it is currently located and pay rent while he started another company to operate the compost facility and receive the revenue it generated. Internal correspondence and documents created by the plaintiff and its agents showed that they knew the defendant had a right under the lease to relocate its business and operate the compost facility. When the compost facility started operating, the defendant sent correspondence to the plaintiff stating that it had breached the lease. One month later, the plaintiff filed its lawsuit seeking eviction. After a week of trial, the jury found in favor of the defendant.