On Sept. 10, 2007, Paul Ermel was driving a semi-tractor northbound on Route 47 in Sugar Grove, Ill., when the defendant, Zachary McVeigh, who was approaching in his car from the southbound, attempted a left turn. He was trying to turn on at Waubansee Drive, which is the entry for the Waubonsee Community College. McVeigh misjudged Ermel’s truck, thinking it was stuck and stopped as part of the construction work that was going on at the area. McVeigh turned his vehicle into the front driver’s side of Ermel’s semi-truck.
Ermel, 38, alleged that the impact of the crash caused him to sustain bulging discs or aggravation of pre-existing degenerative conditions in his cervical and thoracic spine, damage to neck ligaments, cervical instability and a cervical fistula. He required two cervical fusion surgeries. The first was at the level C6-7, and the second was at the level C4-6. His alleged medical expenses were $326,136. He also lost 10 weeks of work as a Teamsters union truck driver.
The defendant McVeigh admitted negligence but contested the nature and extent of Ermel’s injuries. The defendant contended that Ermel suffered only soft tissue strains, which resolved within 4 months. It was also argued that there was a 9-month treatment gap before Ermel sought further medical care, that he continued working full time and raced a stock car during this 9-month period and that there were no recorded complaints of neurological symptoms in his medical records until 1½ years after the accident.