An Illinois jury has entered a $7.5 million verdict against a railroad company for the injuries to a worker exposed to benzene. The worker had been employed by two different railroad companies over 30 years. His job included loading and unloading creosote-soaked railroad ties, which caused him to be covered in wet creosote. Creosote contains benzene, which is a known carcinogen.  This worker was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), which later progressed into acute myeloid leukemia (ACL). This occurred in 2008.

The worker filed his lawsuit in 2010 claiming that he developed leukemia (ACL) as a result of his long-term exposure to the benzene and other chemicals while working for the predecessor railroad company.

At trial, it was heard that the predecessor railroad knew of the dangers of benzene exposure as early as the mid-1980s. At that time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a memo advising the company that it needed to comply with certain safety regulations, including providing employees with adequate protective equipment such as boots, gloves, respirators and goggles. The worker in this case argued that the railroad company did not comply with these regulations.

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Heron Salgado was a construction worker employed by Abel Building & Restoration. He was assigned to work at a job site at 51st Street on a scaffold that was designed, built, erected and maintained by the defendant Designed Equipment Corp. While working at that construction site, he was injured twice.

The first time Salgado was injured was on Jan. 17, 2011 when a heavy bucket fell and struck him.  Then he was injured two days later when he fell into an “opening” in the scaffolding.

Salgado filed a lawsuit against Designed Equipment Corp. in December 2012. Designed tendered its defense of the case, first to its own insurance company and then to Pekin Insurance Co., which was Abel’s insurers, arguing that Abel was an “additional insured” under Abel’s policy of insurance with Pekin.

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On March 9, 2013, the defendant Roy H. Verdin was driving eastbound on 159th Street in Orland Park, Ill.  His vehicle rear-ended Christina L. Barron’s car at 94th Avenue and pushed it into two other vehicles ahead of her.

Barron, 46, maintained that she suffered a torn rotator cuff injury along with soft tissue sprains. She lost one week of work as a retail sales clerk. Her medical expenses were $40,000.

The defendant argued that the crash was only a “fender bender.”  It was maintained that no airbags deployed and that the plaintiff’s rotator cuff tear was not related to this occurrence.

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Theodore Sussan was working as a member of a crew maintaining park trails. He was on supervised probation and community service for a conviction on drug charges. The county had protective equipment, including safety glasses for crews to use on the job.  Sussan and the other crew members worked under the supervision of a county employee.

The county employee instructed Sussan, who was 27 at the time, to grab a rake.  They were working on the county park trails. When Sussan asked if he needed anything else, his supervisor told him no, explaining that Sussan would only be raking debris. Another crew member was using a hedge trimmer to cut brush hanging above the trail.  Sussan and other crew members followed behind, raking the fallen limbs and debris. Additional equipment, which would have included eye protection or safety glasses, was not brought along.

Several hours into this project, the crew found a large branch that protruded from bushes into a walking path. The supervisor told the crew it had to be removed and stated that a chainsaw would be needed to remove the branch. The supervisor told Sussan to pull it out and when that failed he tried to break it with his bare hands. When Sussan attempted to do that, the bark separated and the branch swung upward and punctured his right eye with a splintered stick.

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Ana Espinal, 41, was a home health aide who was working in a New York City hospital. She was walking in a hospital hallway when she slipped and fell in a puddle of water that had leaked from an air conditioner in the ceiling. She suffered neck, back, left hip and left leg pain and diminished sensation in her left, non-dominant arm. Espinal was diagnosed with herniated disks at C5-6 and L4-S1, bulging disks at C4-5 and L1-4, left shoulder impingement and aggravation of asymptomatic arthritis in her left knee.

Espinal underwent conservative treatment, but that failed. She then had a laminectomy infusion at L4-S1, which included implantation of stabilizing hardware. The following year she underwent three separate surgeries, including implantation of spinal stimulators and her neck and lower back and a left knee replacement. She required additional surgeries for repair or replacement of the spinal stimulators.

Her past medical expenses totaled $439,000. Her workers’ compensation carrier paid all the medical bills plus indemnity benefits and maintained a worker’s compensation lien of $567,800.

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The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) has entered into a settlement agreement that will provide a process by which parolees will learn their rights and receive representation of lawyers during their parole revocation process.

There was no availability of assigned legal counsel for parole violators before this agreement.  This agreement was reached with the Department of Corrections in a case that was represented by Alan S. Mills of the Uptown People’s Law Center.  The U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve of the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago approved the agreement on a preliminary basis.

According to the lawsuit, the state cites a lack of funds when it denies any parolee’s request for appointed counsel during revocation proceedings.  But that practice violates due process requirements found in the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion, Gagnon v. Scarpelli, 411 U.S. 778 (1973).

On May 23, 2008, the plaintiff in this case, Carla C. Hudson, 43, was stopped at a red light on northbound Walnut Lane at Golf Road in Schaumburg, Ill.  The pickup truck driven by the defendant Barry McDonald, a Schaumburg Park District employee, was stopped directly in front of Hudson’s vehicle.

The pickup truck was hauling a rowboat, which stuck out several feet behind the truck’s tailgate, blocking McDonald’s view.

Hudson contended the truck suddenly reversed without warning and backed into her car causing her injuries. She sustained ruptured tendons and 4th and 5th fingers of her right hand, which required surgery.  She also claimed an unoperated knee surgery and cervical/lumbar spinal injuries. Hudson brought a lost time from work claim of $9,540 as a Navy reservist. Her medical bills were $81,627.

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Matthew Schaefer’s employer, Brand Energy, was putting in place a scaffold at the Dynegy Power Plant. Brand Energy had complete control over the scaffold construction and had acquired the scaffold components from Universal Scaffolding & Equipment LLC. Dynegy paid for the scaffolding and owned it.

Brand Energy workers had difficulty with the Universal Scaffolding components because faulty components would not lock. While working on the assembly, a bar popped loose and struck Schaefer on the head.

Schaefer suffered serious injuries. In addition to bringing an Illinois workers’ compensation claim against Brand Energy, his employer, Schaefer also brought a lawsuit against Universal Scaffolding. Schaefer’s wife joined the lawsuit with a claim for loss of consortium.

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On July 21, 2007, Terri Whitehead was involved in a two-car crash in Wisconsin. The driver of the other car did not have insurance. Section 143.1 of the Illinois Insurance Code saved Whitehead’s uninsured motorist claim from being barred by a two-year deadline for initiating arbitration.

Although Whitehead did not demand arbitration on her uninsured motorist (UM) claim against Country Preferred Insurance Co. within two years of when she was injured by the uninsured motorist, and she failed to select an arbitrator when she eventually demanded arbitration, she did notify Country Preferred a few hours after the crash, plus she promptly filled out and returned its “notice of claim” form.

The notice of claim form was sufficient to trigger Section 143.1 which provides:

“Whenever any policy or contract for insurance * * * contains a provision limiting the period within which the insured may bring suit, the running of such period is tolled from the date proof of loss is filed, in whatever form is required by the policy, until the date the claim is denied in whole or in part.”

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Heron Salgado, a construction worker, was employed by Abel Building & Restoration in January 2011 when he was assigned to work at a job site at 51st Street. He was working on a scaffold design that was built, erected and maintained by Designed Equipment Acquisition Corp. While he was working at that site, he was injured twice. Once on Jan. 17, 2011, Salgado was injured when a heavy bucket fell and struck him. Two days later he was injured again when he fell into an “opening” in the scaffolding.

Salgado filed a lawsuit against Designed Equipment in December 2012. Designed tendered its defense for this case first to its own insurance company and then to Pekin Insurance Co. who were Abel’s insurers, maintaining that Abel was an “additional insured” under Abel’s policy with Pekin.

Pekin rejected the tender of defense and filed a complaint seeking declaratory judgment. Pekin first claimed that Designed was not an additional insured under the contractor’s endorsement and also that the lease between Abel and Designed was an “insured contract” and therefore void under the Construction Contract Indemnification for Negligence Act.

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