$362,000 Jury Verdict for Electrician Who Fell Eight Feet From Construction Platform

James Miglore, age 58, was an electrician working at the construction site of a new Hoffman Estates park district ice arena.  The construction area was located at 1685 W. Higgins Road in Hoffman Estates, Ill.  The defendant, Harbour Contractors, was the construction manager for the project. Midwest Masonry was the masonry subcontractor.  Miglore was employed by the third-party defendant, American Electric, the electrical subcontractor.

In August 2004, Midwest Masonry built the scaffolding at the site to assist its masons in building a 10-foot interior wall.

Miglore alleged in his lawsuit that he was using Midwest’s scaffolding when he fell from it; he was working about 8 feet above ground. At the trial, Miglore testified that he had set his A-frame ladder next to the scaffolding, climbed onto the scaffolding without a problem and then took 3 to 4 steps when a board on the scaffold “flipped up” and caused his fall. 

Miglore argued that the planks that he was walking on should have been secured. Miglore fractured his hip and tore his rotator cuff in his left shoulder. He put in $151,000 in medical bills as evidence. 

Defendant Midwest Masonry contended that the fall did not occur in the manner that Miglore alleged. Midwest had supporting testimony from witnesses who said that Miglore was transferring from the A-frame ladder onto the scaffolding when he fell.  That method was an unsafe manner in which to access the scaffolding. Defendants argued that Miglore should have accessed the scaffolding from a gang ladder located about 15 feet away.

In addition, Midwest argued that the manner in which it built the scaffolding was safe, proper and in compliance with OSHA standards.

Harbour Contractors, the construction manager for the project, maintained that it reasonably complied with all of its duties as construction manager. Both defendants maintained that Miglore’s rotator cuff injury was unrelated to the incident because he did not complain of shoulder pain until 5 months later and that there was evidence of a pre-existing degenerative condition on MRI studies. 

The Miglore wage loss claim was withdrawn because defendants would have been allowed to introduce evidence that on the day before the occurrence, Miglore had signed a sworn statement in a Social Security Administration disability application that he was disabled from working as an electrician due to an arthritic condition in his back and knees. Because the wage loss claim was withdrawn, the court did not allow any evidence as to Miglore’s Social Security Administration claim.

The plaintiff’s verdict of $362,700 was reduced by the jury in assigning 38% for the contributory fault of Miglore.  So the $362,700 verdict was reduced to that amount from $585,000 by applying 38% as a reduction. The verdict is also subject to a $450,000 workers’ compensation lien. 

The attorney for Miglore was Edward A. Czapla. Before trial, the demand to settle the case was $500,000 to $750,000.  An offer of $300,000 was made.  The jury was asked to return a verdict of $2.1 million.

The verdict of $362,700 was made up of the following damages:

  • $167,400 for pain and suffering;
  • $117,800 for loss of normal life;
  • $77,500 for medical expenses;
  • $0 for disfigurement.

The jury’s verdict was apportioned as to liability at 8% versus Harbour Contractors, 38% versus Midwest Masonry and 16% versus the third-party defendant, American Electric.

James Miglore v. Harbour Contractors, Inc., Midwest Masonry, Inc. v. American Electric, Inc., No. 10 L 8827 (Cook County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling construction accidents, work injuries and scaffold 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 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Elk Grove Village, Chicago (Edgebrook), Chicago (Humboldt Park), Northlake, Melrose Park, Stickney, Marionette Park, Chicago (Pilsen), Countryside, Western Springs, Crestwood, Riverdale, Oak Lawn and Burr Ridge, Ill.

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