Head-On Crash and Rear-Ender Results in $329,000 Jury Verdict

On Feb. 27, 2008, Michelle Eells, 39, was driving eastbound on Route 38 toward DeKalb, Ill., when an oncoming westbound pickup truck driven by the defendant, Dustin Grinstead, crossed the centerline near Kishwaukee Community College and crashed into her vehicle. The eastbound vehicle driven by Wayne Domin, who was working for Sysco, was driving behind Eells and subsequently rear-ended Eells’s car following the first impact between Eells and Grinstead.

Eells claimed that she injured her neck, back and right arm and hand, which resulted in three surgeries. She had an excision of ganglion cyst on the right hand/wrist and injection for DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis, right elbow surgical release of radial nerve entrapment and radial tunnel syndrome and cervical fusion, which occurred in September 2010. Eells also claimed that she can no longer work as a dental hygienist and is currently unemployed. She had claimed medical bills amounting to $167,582. She also claimed lost time from work at $111,691 and future lost time.

Eells sought to hold the defendants Grinstead and Domin/Sysco 50% each at fault. Grinstead had an automobile insurance policy limit of $100,000. According to the law, if Domin/Sysco was found at least 25% at fault they would be jointly liable for all of the damages.

Eells’s accident reconstruction expert testified at trial that Domin was going at least 16-20 mph at the time of the impact and gave the opinion that Domin was following too closely or driving too fast for conditions.

The defense for Domin/Sysco denied that Domin was negligent and asserted that Domin was traveling at a reasonable rate of speed and at a reasonable distance behind Eells. The defense also said the combination of the crash in front of them and the road conditions made his collision with Eells unavoidable and that he acted as any ordinary person would under the same or like circumstances.

The expert for Domin/Sysco estimated that Domin’s speed was about 12 mph at impact. The defendant for Grinstead argued that he lost control after his vehicle fishtailed on the icy roadway and blamed the crash on an act of God with icy road conditions that got worse in the area of the accident.

All of the defendants disputed Eells’s claim that she could no longer work as a dental hygienist based on testimony from her surgeons who released her return to work without any restrictions.

The jury’s verdict was against Dustin Grinstead only and found that Wayne Domin and Sysco were not guilty. The jury’s verdict of $329,073 was made up of the following damages:

• $167,582 for past medical expense;
• $111,691 for past and future loss of earnings;
• $50,000 for past and future pain and suffering;
• $0 for loss of normal life; and
• $0 for disfigurement.

The attorneys representing Michelle Eells were D. Phillip Kesler and Mary I. Wood. The demand to settle the case before trial was $1 million. The lawyers for Eells asked the jury to return a verdict of $1,250,000. The offer before trial by Dustin Grinstead was his $100,000 automobile insurance policy limits. There was no reported offer made by Domin or Sysco to settle the case before trial.

Michelle Eells v. Dustin Grinstead, Wayne Domin, Sysco Chicago, Inc., Sysco Food Services Chicago, Inc., No. 09 L 76 (DeKalb County, Illinois).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile crashes, rear-end crashes, head-on crash cases and truck 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 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including River Grove, Riverside, Robbins, Rolling Meadows, Rosemont, Sauk Village, South Barrington, South Holland, Streamwood, Summit, Tinley Park, Wheeling, Willow Springs, Wilmette, Worth, Niles, Dixmoor, Deerfield, Crete, Crestwood, Country Club Hills and Chicago Heights, Ill.

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