Major Defense Verdict in Ironworker Construction Case

October 4, 2017

Patton & Ryan Senior Partner John W. Patton, Jr., Managing Partner David F. Ryan, and associate Natalie J. Eschbach secured this 100% defense verdict after a month-long trial in Cook County, Chicago, Illinois involving a catastrophic injury. On May 30, 2012, the Plaintiff, a 47-year-old journeyman union iron-worker employed by a subcontractor, was working on a construction project, on a bridge deck on a ramp on Interstate 90 in Chicago. Plaintiff and a co-worker were transporting multiple 30-foot-long pieces of rebar from under a Bidwell bridge-paving machine, to another area of the construction site. As Plaintiff and his co-worker attempted to move the rebar, Plaintiff began to walk backwards, looking at his co-worker and not his path of travel, in order to allow his co-worker to walk out from under the paving machine. As he turned to walk forward, Plaintiff tripped and slipped on a spacer, placed by an ironworker, and fell. Plaintiff alleged that due to the incident he tore three ligaments in his left knee, which required surgery, and also resulted in a complex regional pain syndrome (“CRPS”) diagnosis. Plaintiff’s past medical expenses were over $350,000. Plaintiff claimed that his knee injuries and CRPS rendered him disabled from employment as a union ironworker. Plaintiff also claimed he suffered from adjustment disorder caused by his inability to work, which resulted in emotional distress.

Plaintiff claimed that the defendant general contractor for the project was negligent for positioning its Bidwell machine over a subcontractor’s staging area, which caused him to alter his means and methods of carrying the rebar. The general contractor brought a third-party claim against Plaintiff’s employer for failing to properly train its employees and for failing to provide its employees with a safe workplace. At trial, Patton & Ryan argued that the location of the Bidwell over the rebar material is customary and a trade practice on multi-pour projects of this type. Additionally, the Bidwell machine did not affect the ability of the iron-workers to perform their jobs safely.

Plaintiff asked the jury for an award of $16.5 million. Patton & Ryan inherited the case on the eve of trial with numerous treating physician and expert evidence depositions set to take place in the days leading up to trial. This defense verdict is the result of an aggressive and focused trial team of Patton & Ryan attorneys. Should you want John and our team to help you on a large exposure matter, anywhere in the nation, or just want more information, please do not hesitate to email or call.