$5.26 Million Jury Verdict for Injured Electrician Who Fell From Ladder

Joanne Turner, an electrician, was working on a roof of a community college building that was under construction. As she climbed a 20-foot roof access ladder, she slipped and fell about 15 feet to the concrete floor below.

Turner was 53 years old at the time. As a result of this fall, she suffered an L-2 burst fracture, a fractured right femur and foot and bilateral knee injuries.

Turner underwent open reduction internal fixation of the femur fracture. She also required the implantation of a retrograde nail in her right knee. She was hospitalized for about a week. She spent twelve days in an inpatient rehabilitation facility and remained off her leg for about two-and-a-half months. She was also required to wear a back brace for an additional three months.

Turner’s bilateral knee pain continued after her fall. She also suffered lumbar pain that radiated down into her right hip and leg.

About two years after her fall, Turner underwent arthroscopic surgery on her left knee and a year after that, an arthroscopic meniscal repair and chondroplasty of the right knee.

Turner received a lumbar epidural steroid injection for back pain. When the pain continued, she underwent a discectomy and fusion with posterior pedicle screw instrumentation at L4-5. Her past medical expenses totaled $380,000.

She continues to suffer pain and a limited range of motion and anticipates future medical expenses for additional spine and knee surgery.  Turner has been unable to return to her normal activities and to her job.

She filed a lawsuit against the general contractor on this job, Sundt Construction Inc., and the company Sundt Construction hired to construct and install the ladder, Capitol Iron Works Inc.

The lawsuit alleged that these defendants chose not to put in required nonslip coating on the steps of the ladder and chose not to clean off drywall dust.

Turner claimed that among other damages, she would incur lost future earnings in excess of $1 million.

The defendants in the case admitted liability but challenged the nature and extent of Turner’s injuries. The defendant argued that she had made a good recovery and could obtain other employment that would pay her as much as her previous job. These defendants also argued that future medical expenses were speculative.

The parties engaged in an unsuccessful mediation to try to settle the case before trial. The defendants served a statutory settlement offer of $3,500,000. Turner and her lawyers indicated that she would settle for $5 million, which was the policy limit. Inasmuch as the defendants did not tender the policy limit, the case went to a jury trial on damages. The jury entered a verdict of $5,260,000, which has since been paid.

The attorneys representing Joanne Turner were Roger A. Dreyer and Christopher W. Wood. At the jury trial, Turner’s attorneys presented experts in life care planning and economics because the jury considered only damages and not liability.  At the same time, the defendants presented experts in vocational rehabilitation and economics, challenging the plaintiff’s theory an amount of damages.

Given the jury’s verdict, the jury was obviously persuaded by Turner’s presentation, her counsel and the testimony of her expert witnesses.

Turner v. Sundt Construction, Inc., et al., No. YCSCCVP 012-0000556 (Cal. Super. Ct., Yuba County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling work injuries, construction site injury cases, fall injury cases, car crash cases, truck accident cases, bicycle accident cases, motorcycle accident cases and catastrophic injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Chicago Heights, Chicago Ridge, South Barrington, Evanston, Joliet, Evergreen Park, Wheeling, Northbrook, Northfield, Rolling Meadows, Palatine, Palos Hills, Worth, River Grove, Tinley Park, South Chicago Heights, South Holland, Stickney, Streamwood, Chicago (Hyde Park, Garfield Ridge, Chrysler Village, Chinatown, Canaryville, Bucktown, Loyola Park, Roscoe Village, West Loop, Wrigleyville, Cicero), Highland Park and Geneva, Ill.

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