personal injury

Appellate Court Holds Contract Bars Claim for Paralyzed Gym Member

In a recent opinion, the Illinois Appellate Court has held that a man who was paralyzed while using exercise equipment at a health club is barred from suing the club because of the language in his contract with that entity.  In 2009, the Plaintiff was severely injured while suing a weight assisted dip and chin-up machine at L.A. Fitness.  His injuries led him to became a quadriplegic.  The Plaintiff joined the club five months before, but language in his contract exempted the club "from all liability" to members.  The Circuit Court of Cook County dismissed his negligence suit.  The Plaintiff appealed, contending that the language was confusing and inconsistent with Minnesota law, where he resided when he joined the club.  The appellate court rejected his argument, reasoning that the club had no duty to explain the contract to him before he signed it.  Results like this, unfortunately, are not uncommon.  If a disclaimer is clear and conspicuous, it will usually bar a claim if the Plaintiff signs it in advance.

Illinois Supreme Court Voids Judgment Against Railroad

The Illinois Supreme Court reversed a $3.9 million personal injury judgment against several railroad companies last week, holding that they cannot be held liable for injuries that the plaintiff sustained after he attempted to jump onto a moving train.  In the opinion, the high court reasoned that a moving train represents an "obvious danger" that children understand that could harm them.  The supreme court overturned the appellate court's decision to affirm the jury verdict in the case.  The case arose when, in 2003, 12 year old Dominic Choate tried to impress his friends by jumping onto a moving train.  When he fell, a train wheel severed part of his foot.  Later, a surgeon was required to amputate his leg below the knee.  A Cook County jury awarded him $6.9 million in damages, but reduced the award 40% due to the boy's comparative negligence.  The court noted that Choate ignored fences and warning signs near the tracks.  This will likely mean the end of that litigation.

Jury Awards $23 Million In Accident Case

In an unusual twist in a personal injury trial in the Circuit Court of Cook County, a victim will actually receive $2 million more than the jury awarded him. In 2008, Juan Diaz was rear-ended by a flatbed trailer truck while driving on Interstate 94 in Northbrook, Cook County, Illinois. The accident left Diaz with no use of his lower extremities and limited use of his upper extremities. Diaz rejected multiple settlement offers prior to trial. The defense admitted liability, so the trial proceeded solely on the issue of damages. The parties entered into a $25 million to $50 million high-low agreement, insuring that Diaz would receive a minimum of the lower bracket and a maximum of $50 million post-verdict. The jury returned a verdict of $23 million, so Diaz will receive $25 million pursuant to the parties' pre-verdict agreement.

Downstate Jury Returns Verdict of $13.5 Million for Crushed Leg

A jury in Tazewell County, Illinois returned a verdict for $13.5 million in favor of a construction worker whose leg was crushed while he was working on work trusses.  The worker, Dustin Stone, underwent a partial amputation as a result of the injury.  The main defendant was the manufacturer of a machine which Stone was working on.  The worker was responsible for hammering metal plates into wood trusses that were spread out on a table.  The machine trapped and crushed Stone's left femur against a metail rail.  Stone claimed that the machine was defective and that a safety bar malfunctioned.  An appeal is expected.