William Andrews was driving northbound on Western Avenue on Feb. 11, 2007 when his car collided with a pickup truck driven by defendant Luis Chavez. Chavez ran the red light while travelling westbound on 139th Street in Blue Island.
Andrews, 28, sustained a closed head injury with a brain bleed resulting in short-term memory loss, personality changes, uncontrolled emotions and mood swings, and a loss of his job as a cable installer for Comcast. He claimed inability to ever work again.
Luis Chavez was an undocumented Mexican national who did not have a valid driver’s license. After the crash, Chavez fled the scene on foot and was later convicted of leaving the scene of an accident involving injury.
The truck driven by Chavez was owned by the defendant Dagoberto Gonzalez, who was in Mexico at the time of the crash. He was a partner with his brother Jose Gonzalez, who died in 2007 at their business, G&G Cement Contractors.
Andrews’ lawsuit claimed that Chavez was an employee who worked for G&G during the winter when snowplow work was available. It was alleged in the complaint that Chavez was acting in the course of his employment at the time of the crash. The pickup was equipped with a snowplow at the time and although it was not snowing on the date of the crash, a major snowstorm was predicted for the following evening. Chavez was allegedly preparing the truck for the next day’s work.
The plaintiff, Andrews, contended that Jose Gonzalez was the only one who had keys to the pickup as well as the locked gate for the fenced area where G&G trucks were kept. After Chavez served his prison sentence relating to this crash, he was deported and did not participate in the trial.
The defendants maintained that Chavez was not employed by G&G. They also argued that Chavez was driving the truck without permission, and G&G was closed for the winter at the time of the accident because they did only seasonal concrete and landscaping work. Defendants did admit that G&G occasionally performed some snow removal work during the winter months, but they maintained that their last contract for snowplow work was in 2004, three years before this incident. In addition, the defendants said the Gonzalez brothers were the only employees who ever performed the snow removal jobs.
The defendants contended that Chavez occasionally worked for G&G for 1 or 2 weeks whenever an extra laborer was needed for a particular cement job. He was not working for them that winter. The defendants said the keys to the truck were kept inside the vehicle because there was no building or other structure at the yard in which to place the keys. Chavez was never allowed to drive the truck because he did not have a license. It was further stated that Chavez stole the truck from the yard that evening. The crash occurred about 3 blocks from where the truck had been parked.
At the criminal trial, Chavez denied that he was driving the truck at the time of the accident and claimed he was at a friend’s home drinking beer. However, eyewitnesses said they saw Chavez exit the truck and run from the scene. One witness claimed she saw Chavez staggering as if he was intoxicated and smelled alcohol on his breath.
The jury answered special interrogatories finding Chavez was an employee of G&G and was acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the crash. However, it was found that he was not an employee of the Gonzalez brothers as individuals. The court entered a directed finding on the issue of liability against Chavez. G&G Cement ceased doing business in June 2007. It was noted in the Jury Verdict Reporter that plaintiff’s counsel withdrew its $300,000 policy demand in 2009. Defendants had offered the policy limits a year later, which was refused, and plaintiff’s plan to pursue a bad faith claim against the insurer for G&G Cement.
The plaintiff’s attorney was James L. Farina.
The jury’s verdict of $3,092,000 versus G&G Cement Contractors and Luis Chavez was made up of the following damages:
- $167,000 for past medical expenses;
- $25,000 for future medical expenses;
- $500,000 for loss of normal life;
- $500,000 for pain and suffering;
- $1,900,000 for loss of earnings;
- $0 for loss of household services.
The jury found Dagoberto and Jose Gonzalez not guilty.
At trial, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to return a verdict of $8,653,000. The only offer noted was $300,000.
William T. Andrews v. G&G Cement Contractors, Dagoberto Gonzalez, Estate of Jose Gonzalez, Luis Chavez, 07 L 7742 (Cook County).
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling truck and car accident cases for individuals and families for more than 37 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Glenview, Morton Grove, Flossmoor, Harvey, Blue Island, Rosemont, Inverness, Forest Park, Oak Forest, Crestwood and Chicago (Hegewisch), Ill.
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