$2.6 Million Verdict for Injured Metro Worker Blamed on Unsafe Equipment

On Oct. 12, 2004, Clinton Haywood, 47, was working as a Metra signal maintainer. He was unloading a 123-pound joint box from a rat bed sliding platform on the back of a truck when the rat bed unexpectedly slid into the truck. This caused the box to start to drop. Haywood bent and twisted his body to prevent the box from falling onto him.

Haywood was first diagnosed by Metra physicians with just a back sprain for which he received conservative medical treatment.

However, three years later, in 2007, Haywood was testing a signal when he fell over a fence that had been knocked down and was partially covered with snow. This incident exasperated his original back strain injury.Haywood was diagnosed with a herniated L5-S1 disk injury.  This injury was aggravated by the second work injury resulting in a one-level lumbar fusion in 2012.  Haywood attempted to return to his job after the surgery, but was not able to work after May 2013.

Haywood maintained that Metra chose not to provide him with safe equipment and a safe place to work.  Metra admitted at trial that the lock on the rat bed did not consistently lock, the company was aware of the defect and still it choose not to repair it. However, the defendant also denied that the rat bed contributed to Haywood’s injury and argued that his injury was caused by his own act of lifting beyond his capability, which was against the company’s policy. 

The jury’s verdict of $2,660,000 was reduced by 22.4 percent, which was the percentage the jury found to be attributable to Haywood’s own fault in causing his injuries and was made up of the following damages:

  • $776,000 for past and future loss of normal life;
  • $1,261,000 for past and future pain and suffering; and
  • $623,128 for past and future loss of earnings.

The attorneys representing Clinton Haywood were Michael S. Shinsky and Erin Doyle.

The demand to settle the case before trial was $125,000.  Metra offered $350,000 to settle the case before trial.  At the close of the evidence of the case, the counsel for Haywood asked the jury to return a verdict of $4,060,000.

Clinton Haywood v. Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corp. d/b/a Metra, No. 07 L 0583 (Cook County, Illinois).

Kreisman Law Offices has been representing individuals and the families of individuals who have been injured or killed in work-related incidents for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Peoria, Westchester, Bellwood, Glendale Heights, Lisle, Woodridge, Bur Ridge, Hickory Hills, Bedford Park, Justice, Maywood, Forest Park, Oak Lawn, Chicago (Austin, Garfield Ridge, Archer Heights, Humboldt Park, Wicker Park, Logan Square, Rogers Park), Western Springs, Hinsdale, Addison and Wheaton, Ill.

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