$222,000 Jury Verdict For Car Repair Customer’s Toe Injured by Hydraulic Lift

Marbella Smilovitz, 51, brought her car to the defendant McGrath City Honda for repairs to fix a flat tire.  It was July 31, 2010.  The dealership is located at 6720 W. Grand Avenue, Chicago, Ill. 

The McGrath employees brought Smilovitz to her car in the service area to show her the flat tire while her car was raised up about 6 feet on a hydraulic lift.  Smilovitz then asked an employee to lower the car so she could take out her cell phone from the center console. She stood next to the car as it was being lowered. One of the employees of McGrath claimed that he was standing next to Smilovitz and planned to get her phone for her once the car reached the floor. However, she started stepping toward the car before the lift had fully reached the ground and her left big toe was pinched under the arm of the metal hydraulic lift. 

Smilovitz sustained a degloving injury to the tip of her big toe with loss of skin and toenail requiring skin grafting. There was permanent scarring on the end of her toe. She had $63,977 in medical expenses.

At trial, her medical expert testified that she also suffered a nerve injury to the end of the toe with intermittent future pain.  Smilovitz claimed the toe injury made it more difficult for her to exercise and made it more difficult for her to control her Type II diabetes. She is able to walk normally without a limp. 

In the lawsuit, and at trial, Smilovitz alleged that McGrath chose not to properly supervise her after bringing her into the service area of the auto repair shop, chose not to properly warn her about the dangers associated with the lift, chose not to properly monitor the lift while it was being lowered, failed to have an employee remain at the lift controls as the vehicle was lowered and was negligent in allowing the employee to walk away while the lift was descending. 

McGrath argued that Smilovitz was more than 50 percent at fault for her own injuries. McGrath also maintained that the employee had warned her  to stay back from the lift, but that she unexpectedly stepped toward the lift before the vehicle reached the ground. 

McGrath argued to the jury that the  lift was very large and that the plaintiff should have looked where she was stepping. In addition, McGrath maintained that the incident occurred so quickly that there was nothing anyone could do to prevent Smilovitz from placing her foot under the lift. Further, McGrath contended that the plaintiff made a full recovery from her injuries within 3 months of the occurrence, contended any ongoing pain was due to tendinitis and not due to any nerve injuries from the accident and played a surveillance video for the jury showing that she was doing yard work, pushing a lawnmower and sweeping the sidewalk in front of her house. 

Marbella Smilovitz was represented by Michael C. Mead, who demanded settlement before trial at $625,000. The jury was asked to return a verdict of $730,000. The offer to settle the case by McGrath was $75,000.

The jury’s verdict in favor of Marbella was reduced by 5% for her contributory negligence in causing her injury.  The verdict was made up of the following damages:

  • $60,800 for medical expenses;
  • $99,750 for pain and suffering;
  • $38,000 for loss of normal life; and
  • $23,750 for disfigurement.

Marbella Smilovitz v. McGrath City Honda, et al., No. 10 L 9849 (Cook County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile accidents, work injuries, construction site accidents, trucking accidents and bicycle accidents for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Aurora, St. Charles, Romeoville, Cicero, Joliet, Waukegan, Lake Bluff, Blue Island, Western Springs, Harvey, Chicago (Riverdale, Burnside, Bronzeville, Ukrainian Village, Wicker Park, Andersonville, Edgewater) and Harwood Heights, Ill.

Related blog posts:

Cook County Jury Verdict for Injured Bread Delivery Man; Hasty v. Jewel Foods Store, Inc.

233,000 Jury Verdict to Injured for Fall at Merchandise Mart; Nelson v. Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc.

Illinois Jury Verdict for Sheriff’s Deputy Who Tears Knee Ligament on Loading Dock