Illinois Appellate Court Affirms Jury Verdict of $1.3 Million in Car Crash Over Causation Objections of Defendant

On July 28, 2008 Mai Leen Aguilar-Santos was injured in a car crash alleged to have been caused by the defendant, Helen Brine. On April 1, 2010 the lawsuit against Brine was filed by Mai Leen Aguilar-Santos seeking to recover damages for her injuries caused in the accident. Mai Leen claimed she sustained injuries to her neck, back and burns to her arm from the deployment of the airbag.

Before trial, the court granted Mai Leen’s motion for partial summary judgment, finding that Brine breached her duty of ordinary care in causing the car collision. Brine then filed an amended answer admitting that her negligence was the proximate cause of Mai Leen’s injuries, but denied that the injuries she sustained in the accident were permanent. Two treating doctors provided trial testimony.

One doctor, Dr. Lim, an orthopedic surgeon, testified that Mai Leen’s injuries and symptoms identified in the medical records were caused by the accident. He said Mai Leen’s condition may deteriorate with age or treatment. Dr. Lim examined Mai Leen recently and testified that she required future and further medical treatment for her pain and problems related to the automobile collision. The other treating physician, Dr. Malek, testified that Mai Leen suffered a permanent injury. Dr. Malek had not seen Mai Leen for 15 months prior to his evidence deposition that was presented to the jury.

Brine’s attorney filed motion in limine to attempt to keep out at trial the testimony of both of Mai Leen’s treating physicians, claiming that Mai Leen did not present sufficient evidence that future medical expenses would be necessary. The motions in limine were denied.

Following closing argument, the jury returned its verdict in favor of Mai Leen in the amount of $1,301,048.04. The verdict was made up of these damages:

  • $107,500 for loss of normal life experienced;
  • $310,250 for the loss of normal life reasonable certain to be experienced in the future;
  • $107,500 for past pain and suffering;
  • $310,250 for future pain and suffering;
  • 95,549.04 for the reasonable expense of necessary medical care, treatment and services received; and
  • $370,000 for the reasonable expenses of medical care, treatment and services reasonably certain to be received in the future.

Subsequently, the defendant filed a posttrial motion seeking a new trial or remittitur (reduction of the amount of the  jury’s verdict). The defendant contended that the trial judge erred in overruling the defendant’s objection to Dr. Lim’s opinion that the car collision caused Mai Leen’s herniated disc and that the court was wrong in denying the defendant’s motion to keep out Dr. Malek’s testimony that Mai Leen would suffer loss of normal life in the future because he had not examined her for 15 months before giving his trial testimony. The doctors gave evidence depositions that were read or played on videotape to the jury.

The appeals panel found that the defendant’s motions in limine were properly denied. In addition, the court held that the plaintiff presented evidentiary support for the jury’s verdict and the award amount.  The appellate court said the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant’s motion for a new trial or remittitur. For those reasons and more, the judgment of the circuit court of Cook County was affirmed.

The attorneys handling this matter for plaintiff were Michael T. Wierzbicki and Michael D. Carter, Jr. of the Chicago law firm of Horwitz Horwitz Associates.

Mai Leen Aguilar-Santos v. Helen Briner, 2017 IL App (1st) 153593.

Kreisman Law Offices has successfully handled automobile crash cases, catastrophic injury cases, truck accidents, bicycle accident cases and motorcycle accident cases for individuals and families who have been injured, harmed or killed by the negligence of another for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas including Melrose Park, Winnetka, Wilmette, Skokie, Schiller Park, Tinley Park, Evanston, Glencoe, Northfield, Rosemont, Chicago (Chinatown, Wicker Park, Bucktown, Rogers Park, Pullman, Pilsen, Little Italy, Lincoln Park), Brookfield, Justice, Palos Park and Cicero, Ill.

Related blog posts:

Illinois Appellate Court Finds that Restriction on Order Regarding Motion in Limine Does Not Prevent Other Party from Attempting to Enter Evidence for a Permitted Use

Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Directed Verdict on Injured Parties’ Lost Profits and Lost Earning Capacity

Illinois Appellate Court Rules That Kotecki is Not an Affirmative Defense to a Contribution Action