Architect Sued for Unsafe Retaining Wall Design; Jury Finds for Defendant

A nationally recognized art critic and historian, Gerald J. Nordlund, visited the Art Institute of Chicago at 111 S. Michigan Avenue on Sept. 5, 2009. He was 82 at the time. After leaving the Art Institute, Nordland stepped onto a retaining wall, which separated the sidewalk along Columbus Drive from a driveway serving the Modern Wing at the east side of the museum.

Nordland alleged that the height differential between the top of the retaining wall and the adjoining sidewalk caused him to fall as he attempted to step back down to the sidewalk. He struck his head and suffered facial injuries and a subdural hematoma and permanent sight loss.

The defendant, Interactive Design Inc., argued that the design of the retaining wall met the architectural standard of care and that Nordland’s contributory negligence was the proximate cause of his fall. The defense at trial also denied that his vision loss was related to this occurrence.

The jury was asked to return a verdict of $2.7 million whereas before trial a demand to settle the case for $2 million was countered by an offer of just $23,000.

Plaintiff engaged the services of an expert structural engineer who testified at trial. The defendant utilized an architect and an ophthalmologist to testify before the jury on both architectural negligence and the plaintiff’s claim of vision loss, which the defendant disputed.

The jury returned a verdict of not guilty and in favor of the defendant Interactive Design Inc.

Gerald J. Nordland v. Interactive Design, Inc., No. 09 L 14464 (Cook County, Ill.).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling personal injury cases, medical malpractice cases and nursing home abuse 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 Chicago Ridge, Joliet, Geneva, St. Charles, Kenilworth, Morton Grove, Lockport, Round Lake, Schaumburg, Western Springs, Deerfield, Cicero, Hinsdale, Hillside, Hickory Hills, Blue Island, Broadview, Chicago (Gold Coast, Chinatown, Bronzeville, Bucktown, Beverly, Bridgeport, Brighton Park, Avondale) and Evergreen Park, Ill.

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