Cook County Jury Verdict for Electrician Whose Foot was Crushed By Steel Beam at McCormick Place; Purnell v. GES Exposition Services, et al.

                                                  A $2.24 million verdict was entered in favor of a 36-year-old electrician working as a groundman for an aerial lift truck at a booth at the International Machine Tool Show at Chicago’s McCormick Place in August 2006. The plaintiff, William Purnell, came upon a steel beam that was blocking the path of the aerial truck.

The steel beam was 22 feet long, 3 feet high and weighed 1,800-2,000 pounds. The beam was located in an area that was prohibited as a “no-freight” aisle. The beam had been left there by riggers working for the defendant GES Exposition. 

When Purnell attempted to move the beam out of the way, the beam toppled over and landed on his left foot. He suffered severe crush injuries to the foot causing compartment syndrome, which led to a surgery and foot fusion. 

In this lawsuit, Purnell sued several companies involved in the work at the booth that day. All of the defendants, other than GES, settled before trial. 

At trial, Purnell argued that GES workers were negligent in placing the steel beam in a no-freight area. He also alleged that GES workers chose not to lay the top-heavy steel beam on its side and also chose not to warn of the top-heavy nature of the beam.

On the other hand, GES maintained that Purnell should have left the movement of the beam to the riggers and should not have attempted to move it. The defense also argued that Purnell violated McCormick Place work rules because electricians were not supposed to handle machinery. Further, it was contended by the defendant that the steel beam was stable where it was left and that the beam required 200 pounds of force to move it. GES blamed Purnell for pulling the beam over onto himself. 

The jury disagreed, although it did reduce the verdict by 49 percent, indicating Purnell had some fault in his own injury. 

The $2,245,406 jury verdict was made up of the following damages:

  • $61,331 for past medical expenses;
  • $112,200 for future medical expenses;
  • $91,800 for past lost earnings;
  • $459,000 for future loss of earnings;
  • $446,250 for past pain and suffering;
  • $255,000 for future pain and suffering;
  • $255,000 for past loss of normal life;
  • $561,000 for future loss of normal life;
  • $3,825 for disfigurement.

The other defendants settled out of trial for a total of $880,000, which will be used to set off against the jury’s verdict.

The attorney for Purnell was Thomas O. Plouff. Before trial, GES’ settlement offer was $225,000. The demand to settle was $835,000 before trial. 

William Purnell v. GES Exposition Services, Calypso Waterjet System, Sho Link, Inc., et al., No. 07 L 13629 (Cook County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling construction accidents, work injuries and truck crashes 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 Chicago (Brighton Park), Stickney, Berwyn, Cicero, Morton Grove, Niles, Des Plaines, Park Ridge, Norridge, Elmwood Park, Melrose Park, Franklin Park, Calumet Park and Robbins, Ill.

Related blog posts:

4.16 Million Jury Verdict in Work Injury Fall; Jaeger v. City of Elmhurst

Cook County Jury Verdict of $2.4 Million for Truck Crash; Pitchford v. Knight Transportation

233,000 Jury Verdict to Injured for Fall at Merchandise Mart; Nelson v. Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc.