A trucker whose legs were crushed while freight was being shifted on his truck agreed to a $2.5 million settlement in an Illinois personal injury lawsuit.
The accord came on the second day of jury deliberations following more than a week of trial in this case against Precoat Metals, a division of Sequa Corp. Tom, an over-the-road trucker who lived in Shullsburg, Wis., went to a Precoat facility on the Southwest Side to pick up a load of steel coils.
A forklift driver employed by Precoat had agreed to arrange other freight on the flat bed trailer that Tom was using to accommodate the steel. The freight, 20 foot long steel channels, slipped off the forklift and fell on Tom’s legs, resulting in amputation of the left leg above the knee and surgical repair of his right leg. Tom has been unable to return to his work as a trucker driver.
The steel channels, 25 to a bundle, were secured together by four steel bands. There was a codefense raised by the defendant that it was the bands that were defective that caused the channels to break apart when being lifted by Precoat’s forklift driver. However, Precoat was unable to produce the broken bands that it claimed it had stored after this occurrence. Precoat’s safety manager had testified at deposition that although the bands were stored away, they could not be found now. Before the start of the trial, Kreisman moved to bar Precoat from asserting this defense because it could not produce the item that was alleged to be the cause of the injuries to our client. The court agreed and barred any reference to the broken bands during the trial. At the end of the trial and before jury deliberation, also on motion of plaintiff, the court went to the length of instructing the jury about the law as to “missing” evidence, the bands and documents relating to the accident that were also lost. That jury instruction, Illinois Pattern Jury Instruction 5.0 was read to the jury at the conclusion of the case.
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