Articles Posted in Work Injury

A jury found that the mesothelioma contracted by James Lester Phillips was caused in part by exposure to asbestos contained in Bendix brakes. In an appeal, Honeywell challenged the $5.8 million awarded to Phillips’s wife and surviving children.

In the published portion of the appellate opinion, the court rejected Honeywell’s claims of evidentiary error, concluding that the trial court properly admitted a 1966 letter of a Bendix employee sarcastically addressing an article in Chemical Week magazine that stated asbestos had been accused, but not yet convicted, of being a significant health hazard.

The court reasoned that the letter was circumstantial evidence relevant to the issue of Bendix’s awareness of asbestos’s potential to cause cancer. The court noted that Illinois and Florida cases holding admission of this letter was prejudicial were distinguishable because they did not include the important limiting instruction to the jury.

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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.

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Ignacio Maravilla was working as a laborer during a River North construction project at Wabash Avenue and Superior Street for Holy Name Cathedral on March 27, 2012. He was employed by Benchmark Construction Co.

As a 72-inch precast concrete flat-top slab was being hoisted, one of its imbedded steel lifting loops failed and broke off the slab, which struck Maravilla in the head and face.

The concrete slab with the imbedded loop inserts was designed and manufactured by the defendant Welch Brothers Inc. This lawsuit was for the injuries suffered by Maravilla because of the product defect of the concrete slab hoisting device.

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Christopher Ramirez, 22, was painting an interior wall of a building where he worked as a handyman. He was standing on the 9th rung of a 14-foot ladder. The ladder shook, slid and then collapsed causing him to fall. He suffered a fracture to his left elbow and bimalleolar fractures to his right ankle.

Ramirez underwent surgery, open reduction internal fixation of the ankle fracture. Two years later, Ramirez underwent decompression surgery to release and reposition the compressed ulnar nerve in his elbow.

Ramirez continues to suffer pain, numbness and a reduced range of motion in his ankle. He walks with a limp. Ramirez will likely require surgery to address the neuropathy of the ankle’s peroneal nerve.

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The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that the Union Pacific Railroad Co. did not maintain control over a bridge demolition project after selling the bridge to a scrap contractor. During work on the demolition, a bridge wall severed Patrick Joseph Carney’s legs below the knee. The accident occurred more than ten years ago.

In a 6-1 decision, the high court ruled the railroad was not negligent in selecting the contractor, Happ Inc., in Chicago Heights, Ill. The court also ruled that the railroad did not definitively know about the location of a steel plate that was part of what caused the injuries to Carney because the bridge was built in the early 20th century, and it was not in use when the company bought it.

This Illinois Supreme Court’s decision affirmed the ruling by a Cook County circuit court judge who initially granted summary judgment for the railroad before reversing the decision twice after each party moved for reconsideration. The Supreme Court’s decision reinstated summary judgment for the railroad.

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Richard Black worked for a hospital’s housekeeping staff.  He went to the loading dock to throw away trash into a dumpster.  Richard Cea, an employee of Royal Carting Service Co., had just delivered the dumpster.  It was still attached to the back of his truck.

As Black was throwing trash in the dumpster while standing with one foot on the loading dock and the other on the edge of the dumpster, Cea suddenly moved his truck. The dumpster moved away from the dock and Black fell. Cea then reversed the truck, causing the dumpster to hit Black’s left knee.

Black, 55, suffered a fractured distal femur. The femur bone is the largest bone in the human body. It is also known as the thigh bone. Black underwent open reduction and internal fixation followed by extensive physical therapy. The non-union of the femur necessitated revision surgery and the application of a bone graft. Black underwent additional physical therapy but later developed arthritis in his knee, and that required a total knee replacement.

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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.

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Robert Howard was a 55-year-old truck driver when he arrived at a Nucor-Yamato Steel Co. facility to transport steel machine equipment. His flatbed tractor trailer was directed to a loading area where a Nucor employee was operating the crane to be used for loading the equipment onto Howard’s flatbed truck.

The Nucor employee positioned the load parallel to and partially above the trailer. While Howard attempted to place wood dunnage, a securing device, into the proper position on the trailer, the Nucor employee unexpectedly moved the 50,000-pound load, causing it to strike the dunnage. This forced Howard off the trailer. He suffered a compression fracture to his left heel bone as a result of his fall.

Howard underwent surgery and continues to have problems with mobility and pain. He has not returned to his job, in which he has been paid $22,600 per year. He has incurred medical expenses of about $46,000.

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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.

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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.

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