Cook County Construction Site Accident Leads to 8.5 Million Verdict for Two Injured Construction Workers – Calloway Jr. and Calloway Sr. v. Bovis Lend Lease, Inc.

A Cook County verdict was handed down on an Illinois personal injury and wrongful death claim involving a father and son who were both injured in the same Illinois construction site accident. The Illinois wrongful death claim was filed on behalf of the father, Herman Calloway, Sr., who was killed instantly at the construction site, ; Estate of Herman Calloway, Sr. v. Bovis Lend Lease, Inc., No. 05 L 8589, while the straight personal injury claim was filed on behalf of the son, Herman Calloway, Jr., who suffered permanent disabling injuries as a result of the construction site injury, Herman Calloway, Jr. v. Bovis Lend Lease, Inc., No. 06 L 2005. The jury found in favor of both plaintiffs for a total of $8.5 million in damages for both claims.

The Illinois construction site accident occurred in 2005, when both Calloway, Sr. and Calloway, Jr. were attempting to locate an electrical line at a construction site at Warrenville South High School. At the time, the Calloways were working in a trench that had been dug in order to allow them to locate the electrical line. Typically, when construction workers dig a trench they use a trench box to support it. A trench box is a metal box that construction workers use to prevent workers from trench cave-ins. Without the trench box there is no support to the walls of the trench and nothing to prevent the trench from caving in.

However, the area where the Calloways were working contained pre-existing manholes, the location of which prevented the construction workers from using the trench boxes. The construction workers did make an attempt to use the trench box, but had to remove it after discovering that the box would not fit. Instead of stopping the job while they worked to find an alternate solution, the job superintendant informed the crew that they still needed to locate the electrical line in that area.

The Calloways descended into the 12-14 foot deep trench in search of the electrical line. As they were being handed a piece of pipe to install in the underground sewer, the trench’s wall caved in. Calloway, Sr. was killed instantly in the construction site accident as he was buried under the trench’s walls. Calloway, Jr. would have perished as well had his brother, who was also working on the construction site, jumped into the caved-in trench and dug Calloway, Jr. out. The other Calloway brother used his hands to expose Calloway, Jr.’s head and face, allowing him to breathe and survive until rescue personnel arrived.

However, that is not to say that Calloway, Jr. escaped unscathed. The 56 year-old was rendered impotent due to nerve damage he sustained as a result of a crushed pelvis. Calloway, Jr. will never be able to work a construction job again and will continue to experience significant and constant pain for the remainder of his life.

Calloway, Jr. brought an Illinois personal injury lawsuit against the general contractor and construction management company, while the estate of Calloway, Sr., brought a separate, but similar wrongful death claim against the same defendants as a result of the Illinois construction site accident. Calloway Jr. and Sr. were represented by different attorneys, yet both cases were tried together due to the similar nature of their claims.

At the Illinois construction site injury trial, both plaintiffs alleged that the area where the Calloways were working was unsafe and dangerous. Furthermore, the parties contended that the general contractor was aware of the unsafe nature of the trenches, yet elected not to provide a monitoring system that would have provided a safe environment for the construction crew.

The Illinois construction site injury trail lasted a week, after which the jury returned two verdicts in favor of both plaintiffs. Calloway, Jr. received $6.5 million for the personal injuries he sustained as a result of the construction site injury. The ultimate award for Calloway, Sr.’s wrongful death claim was much less at $2 million.

However, when considering Calloway, Sr.’s claims the jury needed to determine issues of comparative fault. At the time of the construction site accident, Calloway, Sr. had been working as the job’s foreman and therefore should have also been aware of the unsafe nature of the trenches. The jury found Calloway, Sr. to be 49 percent responsible for his own injuries and death, thereby reducing his verdict by the same percentage, leaving his estate with $2 million in damages. The issue of comparative fault that was a factor in Calloway, Sr.’s case and not Calloway, Jr.’s case could account for the separately filed complaints.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois construction accidents and Cook County wrongful death lawsuits for more than 35 years in and around Chicago and Cook County, including Cicero, Chicago Heights, Bedford Park, and Roselle.

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