On May 8, 2011, Mason Brandstedter was driving on Route 59 in West Chicago, Ill., around 1:30 a.m. It was then that he discovered what appeared to be a dog, which was lying on the road and had clearly been injured. Brandstedter, 21, stopped his car facing southbound in the median turn lane and exited his car to see if he could help what amounted to a dying dog. Brandstedter recognized the dog and thought it belonged to a friend. Brandstedter and the dog were both partially in the northbound left lane and partly in the center turn lane.
Brandstedter was crouched down next to the dog talking on his cell phone with the dog’s owner, who Brandstedter knew, and with his back to approaching northbound traffic. He was hit by the defendant Richard Aubert’s car, which was northbound.
Brandstedter suffered a partially torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder and a partially torn labrum in his right hip, both of which required arthroscopic surgery. In addition to $85,776 in past medical expenses, he lost six months of work as a cabinet maker because of his injuries.
The defendant, Aubert, testified at trial that he never saw Brandstedter before his car struck him. The defendant claimed that he was not at fault and attributed the incident to the plaintiff; Brandstedter was crouched down and was dressed in dark clothing. In addition, Aubert testified that there were no midblock streetlights and the glare from the headlights on the plaintiff’s parked car made it even more difficult for Aubert to see the darkly dressed Brandstedter.
The defendant also argued that Brandstedter was contributorily negligent for putting himself in an area of danger, choosing to move the injured dog only a few inches into the median turn lane and not out of the path of traffic and choosing not to yield the right-of-way and also failing to take evasive action to avoid being struck by oncoming traffic.
In addition, the defendant Aubert contested the extent of Brandstedter’s stated injuries. The defendant hired a human factors expert, but the expert was barred by the trial judge from testifying by the court. The report of this case gave no reason for the barring order by the court.
The attorney representing Mason Brandstedter, who handled this trial so skillfully, was Eric D. Jones of the Chicago law firm of Tarpey, Jones. Before trial Brandstedter through his counsel made a demand to settle the case for $250,000. At trial, Jones asked the jury to return a verdict for Brandstedter for between $650,000 and $750,000. The only offer by the defendant to settle the case before trial was $50,000. The attorney for the defendant stated that the last formal demand was $750,000 until $250,000 was indicated at trial. The settlement demands and offer made seems to be disputed.
The Cook County jury’s verdict of $349,010 was reduced by 15% off of $405,776 for the contributory negligence of Mason Brandstedter as determined by the jury. The total verdict was made up of the following damages:
• $72,910 for past medical expenses;
• $17,000 for future medical expenses;
• $12,750 for lost earnings;
• $127,500 for pain and suffering;
• $114,750 for loss of normal life.
Mason Brandstedter v. Richard Aubert, No. 13 L 3061 (Cook County, Ill.).
Robert Kreisman of Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile accident cases, truck accident cases, bicycle accident cases and motorcycle accident cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Schiller Park, Schaumburg, Rosemont, Des Plaines, Park Ridge, Harwood Heights, Wilmette, Winnetka, Skokie, Glencoe, Glenview, Deerfield, Northfield, Burbank, Bedford Park, Bridgeview, Hickory Hills, Robbins, Harvey, Blue Island, Grayslake, Gurnee, Aurora, Waukegan, Joliet, Elgin, Lemont, Hinsdale, Flossmoor and Fox River Grove, Ill.
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