$6.65 Million Cook County Jury Verdict for Death of a Young Woman Who Fell from a Ladder

On Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011, at 4:45 a.m., 22-year-old Patrycja Wysckowska fell 30 feet to her death after trying to navigate an outside ladder on the third-floor rear porch of an apartment building at 4310 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago.

The apartment complex is known as Park Shores and was owned and managed by the defendants, American Heritage Investment II and Group Fox Inc. The woman had reportedly had been attending a party at the building and was trying to climb up to the roof. She was survived by her parents and two siblings.

Her family filed this wrongful death lawsuit against these defendants contending that the ladder was unsafe and one of the rungs snapped while she was on the ladder causing her to fall.

The defendants argued that the ladder was not functional since its top rungs were missing, the ladder did not provide access to the roof, it was not foreseeable that anyone would attempt to climb it because its condition was open and obvious and Wysckowska fell because she lost her grip on the ladder rung.

The trial judge barred the evidence of her .274 blood alcohol level deciding before any evidence that the primary contested issue centered on whether the ladder rung broke.

The jury answered two special interrogatories. One was that Wysckowska was not a trespasser and the other was that she was not more than 50% responsible for her own death. The second of the two jury special questions was framed in a way and answered that she was not more than 50% contributorily negligent, which would have barred her verdict. However, post-trials are pending and the defendants have indicated their plan to appeal this verdict.

The attorneys representing the family of Patrycja Wysckowska were David S. Jasmer and John C. Ellis. Before trial, a demand to settle the case was made at $8,750,000. The jury was asked in closing argument to return a verdict of $14 million. The only offer made by the defendants before trial was $1,200,000.

The jury’s verdict of $6,650,000 was reduced from $7 million by 5% as the contributory negligence assigned to Wysckowska.  The jury’s verdict was made up of the following damages:

  • $3,325,000 for loss of society; and
  • $3,325,000 for grief and sorrow.

At the trial, the defendants engaged experts in biomechanical engineering and accident reconstruction.

Estate of Patrycja Wysckowska v. American Heritage Investment II, Group Fox, Inc., No. 11 L 10455 (Cook County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling catastrophic injury cases, premises liability matters, automobile crash cases, truck accident cases, bicycle accident cases and motorcycle accident cases for individuals and families who have been injured or killed by the negligence of another for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Vernon Hills, Waukegan, Rosemont, River Grove, River Forest, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Palos Hills, New Lenox, Romeoville, Elgin, Joliet, St. Charles, Aurora, Lake Bluff and Wilmette, Ill.

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