Articles Posted in Spine Injury

A New York City jury signed a $39.5 million verdict for a 30-year-old woman after she fell through an unguarded “vertical ladder” fire escape and suffered permanent injuries. That fire escape design had long been outlawed under legislation approved by the New York state legislature in 1928. This type of fire escape design is what was known as a vertical ladder.  The 1928 law required that all such vertical fire escape ladders be replaced.  The law was amended in 1948 to require all such models be replaced within a year.

In November 2008, Anastasia “Sasha” Klupchak was a 22-year-old New York University honor student and a varsity soccer player. She was visiting a friend’s fourth-floor apartment on 82nd Avenue in Manhattan. That evening,she joined two friends on the fire escape, which was at the back of her friend’s apartment.

As she turned to climb back through the kitchen window from the fire escape, she fell through an unguarded opening in the fire escape platform. She fell 12 feet to the roof below and suffered a severed spine and is now paralyzed from the waist down. She will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

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During a jury trial in LaSalle County, Ill., the jury found in favor of Ty Benckendorf, who was a backseat passenger in a car traveling southbound in Marseilles, Ill., on Oct. 20, 2010. The defendant, 75-year-old Juliann Huber, was driving a car that was heading southwest. It pulled into the path of the Benckendorf car, causing the crash. Benckendorf, 18, sustained a herniated cervical disc and soft tissue injuries. The jury learned that Benckendorf had $12,000 in past medical expenses.

The defendant admitted negligence but disputed the extent of Benckendorf’s claimed injuries and damages.

The attorney for Benckendorf, Jennifer L. Kiesewetter, made a demand to settle the case before the start of the trial for the policy limits of $100,000. The jury was asked to return a verdict of $250,000. The only offer made by the defendant’s counsel before trial was $23,000.

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On May 8, 2009, Becky Lynch was driving her car eastbound on Route 9 in Fiatt, Ill., when the defendant truck driver, Myron Rachinski, pulling a flatbed trailer, was traveling southbound on Route 97

and chose not to stop at the stop sign. Rachinski and his truck proceeded into the intersection directly in front of Becky’s SUV. The intersection is known locally as Teddy Bear Junction.

Lynch’s SUV hit the middle of the trailer and became lodged underneath it causing it to be dragged 150 feet down the road.

Lynch, 50, suffered a broken left arm, which required surgery with plates and screws, pelvic fractures, left lateral tibial plateau fracture, bilateral pulmonary embolism and right knee replacement surgery three years later. She is expected to have a hip replacement and left knee surgery in the future.

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On April 27, 2009, Daniel Fleck, a union sprinkler fitter employed by Global Fire Protection, was working at the Ogilvie Transportation Center in Chicago. This work occurred during the MetraMarket construction project that was under way on the lower level. Fleck was 39 years old at the time. The construction project was headed by general contractor defendant, O’Neil Construction Co. The Ogilvie Transportation Center is located at 118 N. Canal Street in Chicago.

Fleck contended that he injured his lower back while he attempted to lift and install a 110-pound dry pipe valve at the construction site. While attempting this lift, Fleck was caused to re-herniate his lumbar disc, which required spinal surgery in 2010. Fleck was unable to return to work as a sprinkler fitter and is currently unemployed.

Fleck maintained that the customary industry practice for hoisting the sprinkler valve was to be done from an anchor in the ceiling, but O’Neil Construction prohibited Fleck from using a hoisting device to install the valve, which forced him to lift the heavy valve by hand.

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On Nov. 9, 2012, Hawree Amin was riding a bicycle eastbound on Winnemac Avenue in the city of Chicago, traveling through the intersection at Clark Street. The defendant, Karl Fujihara, driving eastbound in his car came alongside a car on the left. Amin maintained that Fujihara suddenly veered to the right to avoid a protruding manhole cover and hit Amin’s left shoulder with his car’s right side-view mirror and caused Amin to fall off his bike. He landed on his right knee.

Amin, 26, is an auto mechanic. He sustained blunt trauma contusions and ligament injuries to his left shoulder and right knee. He also suffered a sprained right ankle, low back strain and neck pain.

The defendant Fujihara argued that Amin, who is blind in one eye, rode his bike into the side of Fujihara’s car, denied that he veered to avoid any manhole cover, denied that Amin ever fell to the ground and disputed the extent of his claimed injuries.

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Robert Barnett, a homeowner, hired Dawson Construction LLC to do some home repair work. The work included climbing a ladder to get on the roof to make some repairs to it. Juan Garcia , a 43-year-old day laborer, was working for Dawson Construction at the time. Garcia was asked to work on the roof, which was wet.

Garcia climbed the ladder to the roof and then fell. He sustained multiple injuries, including cervical injuries at C3-4, a left elbow fracture and a fractured right knee cap (patella). Garcia underwent a number of surgeries related to his injuries and incurred approximately $118,300 in medical expenses.

He filed a lawsuit against the homeowner, Robert Barnett, claiming that he chose not to comply with state law by correctly evaluating Dawson Construction, which was not licensed or bonded, before hiring the contractor and insuring that the work at his home would be performed safely.

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On May 11, 2009, Manuel Banuelos was driving a dump truck through a construction zone on northbound Interstate 94 in Lake County, Ill., when he attempted to turn into a construction site a quarter-mile north of Illinois Route 176. At that point, Banuelos was rear-ended by a semi-tractor-trailer driven by the defendant Dezell Kelley, pushing Banuelos’ truck into a ditch causing his serious injuries.

Banuelos claimed that he had slowed down in advance of his turn, that his flashers were engaged and signs were present warning drivers of a flagger ahead and the trucks were entering and exiting this highway.

Two witnesses confirmed that Banuelos had slowed and his flashers were on. Banuelos was 39 years old at the time of the crash. He sustained a herniated L5-S1 disc that required a discectomy and fusion, a torn meniscus in his right knee that required arthroscopic surgery and a herniated C5-6 disc requiring treatment and future fusion surgery, all leaving him unable to return to work as a truck driver.

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