Category Archives: Personal injury

Cook County Jury Returns $10 Million Verdict for Murdered Woman’s Family

In late March, a jury in the Circuit Court of Cook County returned a $10 million verdict in favor of the family of Melissa Dorner.  Roberto Ramirez murdered Dorner on January 23, 2005 in her apartment on North Winthrop in Chicago.  Ramirez lived there also.  Ramirez was charged with Dorner's murder, but he fled to Mexico.  He was later extradited to the United States.  In 2007, Dorner's mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the apartment building's management company and its owner, claiming that they were negligent in failing to screen tenants.  The jury found Ramirez 90% at fault and the management company 10% at fault.  Ramirez is likely judgment proof, meaning that Dorner's family will only be able to recover $1 million.  The evidence at trial showed that another female tenant complained about Ramirez two months before the murder - Ramirez chased her up the stairs.  The management company intends to file post-trial motions with the court seeking to set aside the verdict.  Those motions, however, are rarely granted.  Negligence cases involving third party criminal attacks are usually difficult to win.

Bike Accident Victim Settles Case for $5 Million

A 75 year old man who lost part of his leg as a result of an accident with a truck driver just settled his claim for $5 million.  Paul Zanoni was riding his bicycle home from church when he was struck in an intersection in Bellwood, Illinois.  Zanoni did not stop at the crosswalk, but the truck driver did not look as he pulled out from the intersection.  As a result, the truck driver struck Zanoni and dragged him 40 feet.  Zanoni had to undergo a below the knee amputation.  One of the biggest hurdles in this case was Zanoni's comparative negligence.  Under Illinois law, if the case proceeded to trial, and a jury found in favor of Zanoni, the amount of a verdict would be reduced by the percentage of comparative fault found by the jury.  If the jury found that Zanoni was more than 50% at fault, he would recover nothing.

Family of Truck Driver Awarded One Million Dollars Against City of Chicago

On Tuesday, April 10, 2012, a federal jury in Chicago awarded the family of a deceased truck driver $1 million in a wrongful death lawsuit.  In April, 2008, Donald Wells careened off of the Dan Ryan Expressway and crashed into a crowded escalator at a CTA station in Chinatown.  The accident killed two people and injured 21 others.  Wells was taken to Stroger Hospital and then the police station. Attorneys and family members claimed that Wells appeared disoriented and acted abnormally.  Wells died in custody.  His attorneys claimed that he suffered organ damage and other fatal complications because he was not properly treated.  The estate's lawyers maintained that the jail keepers were negligent in detaining him for too long.  Litigating this case presented significant hurdles to the estate's lawyers in light of Well's earlier actions.

Settlement reached in railroad crossing death

On,  April 16, 2010, Katie Ann Lunn was driving over railroad tracks in University Park when she was struck and killed by an Amtrak train.  Her father filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Illinois Central Railroad Co. and Wisconsin Central Ltd.  The estate alleged that the company failed to maintain warning signals for the oncoming trains.  A $6 million settlement was reached between the parties one day after trial commenced in the Circuit Court of Cook County.  An independent investigation by the Federal Railroad Administration revealed that certain warning lights and bells had been deactivated.  Lunn, age 26, was a dance instructor.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against High Rise

The mother of a woman who was killed in a fire filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the companies that manage the building.  Shantel McCoy died on January 9 during a fire.  Ms. McCoy died when she arrived on the 12th floor by elevator.  According to the lawsuit, the Plaintiff claims that building lacked a sprinkler system.  The mother further claimed that the companies failed to warn her daughter of the fire, and allowed her to use the elevators when the companies knew it was not safe to do so.  Eugene K. Hollander handled a similar negligence matter.  In that case, the issue was whether there were operable smoke detectors to alert the residents of a fire.  My office retained an expert concerning how much time the smoke detectors would have afforded the residents of impending danger.  The evidence showed that the safety devices would have allowed the residents plenty of time to exit the burning building.  The case settled for a substantial sum before trial.

Illinois Appellate Court Limits Scope of Illinois Gender Violence Act

An 18 year old woman, only identified as "Jane Doe" in court papers, attended a fraternity party at the University of Chicago.  She became heavily intoxicated, and claimed that "Eric" later raped her at an off-campus apartment.  Doe sued the fraternity under the Illinois Gender Violence Act, claiming that the fraternity knew or should have known that she could become a victim of sexual assault after becoming drunk at the fraternity party.  Doe relied upon this state statute as opposed to common law negligence as it is a powerful remedy.  The law can provide for punitive damages or the recovery of attorney's fees to a successful litigant.  The Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander often uses this potent weapon when litigating sexual harassment cases.  The fraternity filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that it was not a "person" as defined by the law.  The trial court granted the motion, and the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the ruling.  The Appellate Court concluded that the alleged conduct constituted gender violence, but there was no connection between the fraternity and the alleged assault.  The reviewing court also reasoned that because this was a case of social host liability, Illinois law forbade Doe from pursuing a case against the fraternity.