CTA Rider’s Fractured Leg Brings $246,000 Cook County Verdict – Kpea v. Chicago Transit Authority

A Cook County jury entered a $246,000 verdict against the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) for an injury a computer sustained after getting caught in a turnstile in the Illinois personal injury claim of Tekuru Kpea v. Chicago Transit Authority, 08 L 5324. The plaintiff, Tekuru Kpea, sustained severe injuries to his leg and part of the damages went towards his future medical care and surgeries.

In 2004, Kpea was passing through a fare-card turnstile at the CTA’s Green Line Kedzie Station when his left leg became caught in the turnstile. In addition, this caused Kpea to fall forward, twisting his left leg while his knee remained stuck in the turnstile. As a result of his personal injury, Kpea sustained a left leg fracture, specifically to his left tibial plateau.

Kpea’s personal injury was so severe that he required an open reduction internal fixation surgery of his left tibial plateau, which involves fixing the bones in place with metal rods and screws. While these metal implements aid the bone in healing properly, they increase the risk for infection because there are now foreign bodies in one’s leg. Unfortunately, this is what happened in Kpea’s case – he developed a post-operative infection which required several corrective surgeries.

In addition, Kpea sustained a crushed left peroneal nerve injury that led to his drop foot symptoms. Also, Kpea will likely undergo additional recurrences of this injury as doctors have diagnosed him with osteomyelitis in his left leg and have predicted that in the future he will need a new bone graft in his tibia. The additional surgeries also left Kpea with a large scar running the length of his leg from his knee down to his ankle.

Because Kpea’s personal injury occurred on the property of the CTA, the Illinois common carrier laws apply. In Illinois, any entity that transports goods or people over a set route and according to a regular schedule is classified as a common carrier. The duty of a common carrier to its passengers is to “use the highest degree of care consistent with the mode of conveyance used and the practical operation of its business as a common carrier by rail.”
At the Illinois personal injury trial, the CTA argued that its turnstile was functioning properly and with no defects. It alleged that Kpea’s injury occurred because he was running to catch the train and tried to jump the turnstile. Kpea’s lawyers argued that his injury was the result of a defective turnstile, not his own negligence.

The Cook County jury was instructed that it was to determine whether the CTA had exercised “the highest degree of care” in regards to its turnstile at its Green Line station. If the jury found that it had not, then it would need to rule in favor of the plaintiff. This language can be found in Illinois Pattern Jury Instruction, 100.01.

After reviewing the evidence in the Illinois personal injury lawsuit, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $493,573. The breakdown of the jury’s verdict was as follows:

$82,323 for medical expenses;
$100,000 for past disability;
$75,000 for future disability;
$75,000 for past pain and suffering;
$75,000 for future pain and suffering;
$61,250 for lost income;
and $25,000 for disfigurement related to his scar.

However, the verdict was reduced by 50% because the jury found the plaintiff to be 50% responsible for his own injuries. If the jury had found Kpea to be any more than 50% responsible for his injuries, then he would not be able to obtain any damages from the CTA.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Cook County personal injury lawsuits for the severely injured for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, Cook County, and its surrounding areas, including Bridgeview, Calumet Park, Dolton, Chicago Heights, and Prospect Heights.

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