Articles Posted in Damages

The Illinois Appellate Court has upheld a record-breaking $21.4 million jury verdict for a railroad conductor after his heel was irreparably damaged at a railyard.

The Illinois Appellate Court for the 1st District rejected all of Norfolk Southern Railway Co.‘s attempts to either vacate or reduce the verdict signed by the jury in favor of the plaintiff Michael Parsons.

The November 2015 jury verdict was the largest reported verdict or settlement for a heel-related injury in Cook County. Norfolk Southern was unable to persuade the 1st District Illinois Appellate Court that the jury’s verdict went against the manifest weight of the evidence and that the defendant railroad was prejudiced by the jury instructions.

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A 10-year-old girl, identified as E.H., was with her family at Dehn’s Pumpkins, a Minnesota pumpkin patch. The facility included a petting zoo in which children could pet the cows housed in a feedlot behind a metal gate. E.H. spent some time feeding the cows.

Several days later, E.H. began suffering fever, cramps and diarrhea. When her symptoms worsened, E.H.’s parents took her to a hospital emergency room where the staff diagnosed an E. coli infection.

The E. coli infection led to hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is a severe complication that results when toxins from the bacteria enters the patient’s bloodstream and finds its way to the kidneys.

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In this incident involving a cab and pedestrian, three weeks after Express Cab Dispatch Inc. and Express Cab Company Inc. (collectively, Express Cab), leased Luis Leal a taxi cab, he struck a pedestrian, the plaintiff, Margaret Baumrucker.  She was walking to her job at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, Ill. Although Leal was driving at a slow speed, he knocked Baumrucker to the ground injuring her left shoulder.  She had years of physical therapy and, according to her physician, the shoulder injury is permanent and likely will cause her pain and restrict some activities for the rest of her life.

Baumrucker sued Express Cab, alleging negligence and willful and wanton entrustment of the cab to Leal. Baumrucker sued Leal for negligence and argued that Express Cab acted recklessly by choosing not to thoroughly check Leal’s driving record, which would have shown that while living in another state he had been convicted of driving while intoxicated in 2000 and ticketed for speeding more than 85 mph in 2010. Express Cab conceded that Leal was negligent and Baumrucker was injured, but contested the extent of her injuries and the allegations that Express Cab acted willfully and wantonly by entrusting the cab to Leal.

After a jury trial, a verdict was returned in favor of Baumrucker and signed a verdict for $897,740.81, which included $397,740.81 in compensatory damages plus $500,000 in punitive damages.

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