Articles Posted in Jury Verdict

Cameron Hansen, 48, was a cement mason working at a construction site at Loretto Hospital at 645 Central Ave. in Chicago. The defendant in this case was Stone Mountain Access Systems Inc., which was the company that provided the scaffolding at the job site. Stone Mountain was responsible for designing and consulting for the building of this scaffold for this job.

Hansen was attempting to disassemble the scaffolding on Nov. 11, 2010 when it tipped over and he fell to the ground. Hansen sustained a traumatic brain injury along with unspecified injuries to his neck, left shoulder, left hip and left knee. He required five surgeries and physical therapy. The injuries left him with permanent disability.

He blamed Stone Mountain for the placement of counter-weights for the scaffold falling over and this accident. Stone Mountain maintained that there was nothing wrong with the equipment or the way the scaffold was built and argued that Hansen’s dismantling of the scaffold was the sole cause of the scaffold’s fall.

Continue reading

A Minnesota jury has signed a $28 million verdict for the injuries suffered by a teenager who is now a quadriplegic after the car in which she was passenger was struck by a school bus. The crash occurred in 2009 when Paige Anderson was just 16 years old.  Another passenger in that car was killed in the crash.

The case was tried to a jury in Itasca County, which assigned 10% of the fault for the crash to the bus driver. The rest of the liability was placed on the driver of the vehicle in which Paige Anderson was seated. The attorney representing her said that both drivers are insured against claims like this, but the insurance coverage is substantially less than this verdict. The attorney representing Paige Anderson was Stephanie Ball.

“Awards this large are very rare in greater Minnesota, but this was a unique and heartbreaking case,” Ball stated, adding that the jurors’ verdict “recognizes the tragic injuries suffered by a young woman whose life was just getting started.”

Continue reading

Lee Newsome sustained a serious injury to his right foot when a rail hanging from a crane fell on him. He was working for the Wisconsin Central Railroad. Newsome sued the railroad under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) claiming that his injuries caused him a “loss of future earning capacity.” Wisconsin Central moved for partial summary judgment on Newsome’s loss of future earning capacity, arguing that the evidence did not support his claim. The U.S. Magistrate Judge handling this case denied Wisconsin Central’s motion, holding that there was a fact question for the jury.  According to the Magistrate Judge’s decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the FELA allows for the awarding of damages for impairment of earning capacity.

“The FELA is a broad remedial statute to be construed liberally in order to effectuate its purpose. In addition to compensation for pain and suffering, the FELA allows damages for economic harms such as loss of past and future wages and impairment of earning capacity that result from injury.” Grunenthal v. Long Island RR Co., 393 U.S. 156, 160-62 (1968).”

There were no 7th Circuit Court of Appeals cases for the Magistrate Judge to rely on. However, there were other federal circuit court cases that stated that proofs necessary to recover future loss of earning capacity is allowed in the FELA context.

Continue reading

Karen Ann Whitaker was 60 when she started home from the church where she worked as a daycare teacher. Driving alone, she exited the church parking lot and turned onto the adjacent road. As she entered the northbound lane, southbound trucker Clarence Risher, who was driving a tractor-trailer while under the influence of methamphetamine, lost control of his truck.

The Risher truck jackknifed and crossed the center line. In doing so, the truck broadsided Whitaker’s car. She died on impact. She is survived by her husband, four adult children and five grandchildren.

Earlier on the day of this crash, Risher had delivered a load of chickens for House of Raeford Farms Inc., which had hired his employer, CRE Trucking LLC, as an independent contractor, to transport the chickens. Risher pleaded guilty to DUI involuntary manslaughter, reckless driving and operating without a valid driver’s license, among other serious criminal charges. He was also sentenced to 4 years in prison for this accident.

Continue reading

Joseph Sondag was alleged in this lawsuit to have been exposed to asbestos dust from drywall tape manufactured by Tremco when he worked as a plasterer from 1957 to 1983. In 2007, he was diagnosed with pleural plaques and interstitial fibrosis.

At trial, Sondag’s treating physician, Dr. Al Rossi, testified that these conditions were probably caused by on-the-job exposure to asbestos. However, Dr. Rossi did not diagnose Sondag as suffering any symptoms from this condition.

According to Sondag’s wife, Phyllis, and their daughter, he suffered from shortness of breath. But he was an ex-smoker and was 82 when the case was tried. There was no expert testimony that the pleural plaques and interstitial fibrosis were symptomatic.

Continue reading

A Chicago real estate developer, Perry Casalino, hired Ramon Gavina as a laborer to install wallpaper inside the entrance of a building at 1513 N. Western Ave. in Chicago. Gavia maintained that Casalino purchased materials and tools, instructed him as to how to perform the work and told him to climb up on a scaffold to hang the wallpaper.

When Gavina climbed on top of the scaffolding on Jan. 14, 2009, it collapsed. He fell to the ground and sustained a tibial plateau fracture in his knee.  The injury will require surgery as recommended by his orthopedic surgeon.

Gavina sued Casalino and his company. Casalino and, on behalf of his development company, denied that he was present at the time of the incident, denied that he owned the scaffolding and denied knowing the owner of the scaffold.

Continue reading

Robert Kinstner was a forklift and machine operator employed by a masonry subcontractor working at the construction site for a new police station at 3600 N. Halsted St. in Chicago. The defendant in this case was Harbour Contractors Inc., which was the general contractor for the construction of this building. On Feb. 9, 2010, Kinstner, 42, slipped and fell on a deep rut that was covered with ice and snow. Kinstner suffered a broken ankle with disruption of the syndesmosis joint, requiring open reduction internal fixation followed by arthroscopic surgery eight months later.

He claimed that he developed complex regional pain syndrome shortly after his injury, which prevented him from working in any capacity since the date of this occurrence. He stated that because of the injury he was unable to stand and walk for any length of time. Kinstner asserted that he lost earnings and benefits of between $751,000 and nearly $2 million. He also made a claim for more than $3 million in future loss of earnings and benefits.

Kinstner maintained that the unsafe and uneven ground conditions at the work site had existed for several weeks before his injury.  He claimed that the area was a means of access for machinery and equipment but it had not been properly stoned or leveled for workers’ safety by the general contractor. Photographs of the scene taken shortly after the incident showed the presence of the ruts and uneven ground.

Continue reading

Jeffrey Stewart was an 18-year-old student at Oswego High School at 4250 Route 71 in Oswego, Ill.  He had a known history of asthma. On Feb. 13, 2008, Jeffrey was attending a class when he experienced difficulty breathing, wheezing and collapsed. A teacher sent students to get the school’s nurse but did not immediately call 911. When the nurse arrived at the classroom, she found Jeffrey was not breathing and had no pulse. The nurse told the teacher to call 911. Instead, the teacher reportedly called the nurse’s office and asked a staff member who answered to call 911. The call to 911 was eventually made, but only after a more than significant amount of time had elapsed.

Unfortunately, Jeffrey never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead.  He was survived by his parents and one sibling.

The coroner’s office ruled the cause of death was acute bronchial asthma.

Continue reading

In a recent Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article, retired Cook County Circuit Court Judge Hon. Dennis Dohm wrote that the clear language found in Illinois’ 1970 Constitution, Section 13 titled “Trial by Jury,” of Article I’s Bill of Rights states that “the right of trial by jury as heretofore enjoyed shall remain inviolate.”

Judge Dohm compared that language of the 1970 Illinois Constitution to the State’s 1870 Constitution on jury trials, which stated, “The right of trial by jury as heretofore shall remain inviolate [but the trial of civil cases before justices of the peace by a jury of less than 12 men may be authorized by law].” The 1970 Constitution language as shown above includes none of that language that is shown in brackets. Justices of the peace were abolished by the 1962 Judicial Article to the 1870 Illinois Constitution.

It may be of historical note that in 1818 and 1848, Illinois had enacted constitutions that likewise stated that the right of trial by a jury was mandated by similar language as found in the 1870 and 1970 constitutions.

Continue reading

On Dec. 15, 2000, Patrick Broderick was driving southbound on Schoolhouse Road when icy conditions caused him to lose control of his car.  His vehicle came to a rest on a snow bank on the east side of the road.  A good Samaritan stopped at the scene to help Broderick, parking his car in the northbound lane of traffic.  Supposedly, the good Samaritan’s hazard lights were on and working, but that fact was disputed.

Caroline Semanic was traveling northbound on Schoolhouse Road when she approached the scene.  Semanic said she saw no flashing headlights on the good Samaritan’s vehicle and testified under oath that she saw only tail lights that she thought were attached to a moving vehicle.  Semanic’s car slid into the good Samaritan’s car while attempting to avoid crashing into that parked car, pushing the vehicle into the plaintiff Broderick, who was standing in the roadway with his back to northbound traffic.

Broderick maintained that the force of the impact caused him to be thrown 75 feet.  The thrust of the impact resulted in a closed head injury, mild traumatic brain injury and soft tissue neck injury.  Broderick claimed that he now has impaired cognitive function, loss of prior math skills, inability to concentrate, memory deficits, altered personality, word-finding difficulties, post-traumatic stress disorder, inability to follow directions, chronic insomnia, increased flare ups of temper, headaches, neck pain and depression. He is currently working as a fraud analyst.

Continue reading