workplace 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.

Family Sues in Death of Firefighter

The children of a Chicago firefighter filed a wrongful death lawsuit accusing the owners of an abandoned building for negligence when the roof collapsed during a firefight.  The incident happened on December 22, 2010.  Edward Stringer responded to the fire at the site of the former Sing Way Cleaners.  Notably, the owner of the building had received numerous building code citations since 1987.

Yale University Sued for Wrongful Death

On September 6, 2011, the parents of a murdered student filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Yale University, accusing the college of failing to protect their daughter, Annie Le, against a laboratory co-worker, who pled guilty to her murder.  According to the family's attorney, the university knew or should have known that the attacker, Raymond Clark, had demonstrated aggressive behavior and a violent propensity toward women.  The university denied the allegations, and stated that no reasonable security measures could have presented the tragedy from happening.  Le's body was found in a research lab on the day she was to be married.  Le's family contended that the college was negligent in hiring and retaining Clark for a job that gave him unsupervised access to students and staff and for negligently monitoring his activities in the lab building.  The Hollander Law Offices litigates similar claims.  Currently, we are litigating a claim of sexual abuse against Cultural Care, Inc. in federal court in Boston for failing to properly a monitor an au pair who sexually abused a host family's child.

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.