Cook County Construction Accident Verdict Awards 6.3 Million Against Subcontractor for Death of Electrician in Estate of Ingolia v. CTA, et al.

A Cook County, Illinois jury returned a $6.3 million verdict in an Illinois wrongful death case where a 57 year -old electrician died after he was electrocuted and burned in an electrical explosion while working at the Chicago Transit Authority Brown Line substation in 2006.

Charles Ingolia was working under the defendant Target Electric which was serving as the subcontractor overseeing the electrical phase of the project involving the addition of a new rectifier system to power the CTA Brown Line trains and the renovation of the substation near 3360 N. Clark St., Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Ingolia survived two days after the explosion and then passed away.

At the trial in Estate of Charles R. Ingolia v. CTA, et al., 06 L 013106, the family’s lawyers argued that the subcontractor overseeing the electrical phase of the project were responsible for Mr. Ingolia’s injuries and wrongful death. It was also contended that Mr. Ingolia was inadequately instructed on how to clean the new electrical system because it was “going to” be energized. The estate alleged that Target Electric sent the electrician into a 12,600 volt switchgear cabinet without informing him that a portion of the electrical equipment had been energized.

The defendants’ attorneys countered that Mr. Ingolia had 38 years of experience as an electrician and that when he lifted a protective shield, exposing himself to the live equipment causing the explosion, he should have known that there was energy in the equipment that had been installed just six months earlier. Mr. Ingolia was survived by his wife and four adult children.

Although the verdict was $6.3 million, it was reduced by 35%, more than $4.1 million, because of the assessment of contributory negligence on the part of Mr. Ingolia. The jury determined that Mr. Ingolia was responsible for 35% of the fault.

Before the trial started the plaintiff and the defendants had entered into a high-low agreement. These agreements are made to limit the exposure to a defendant and at the same time covering a plaintiff for a low recovery is the jury verdict is lower than expected. Because of that agreement, the estate of Mr. Ingolia received $3.5 million plus a waiver of the $300,000 workers’ compensation lien. The low figure that was agreed upon by the parties before trial was $1.2 million with a waiver of the workers’ compensation lien. Because the jury’s verdict was greater than the “high” of the high-low agreement, the high number was paid by defendants.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling construction accidents and wrongful death lawsuits for more than 35 years in and around Chicago and Cook County, including Bartlett, Northlake, Forest Park, Lynwood, Northfield and Chicago Heights.

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