The Law Offices of Parente & Norem, P.C. is proud to congratulate trial attorney Cole H. Munvez, on achieving the top settlement in Cook County in the category of $700,000. Way to go, Cole! To read more click here.
Congratulations to attorney Dennis M. Lynch for his selection as Chicago Lawyer Top 40 Under 40 Member! You can read the full article by clicking here: Chicago Daily Law Bulletin Class of 2021 – Top 40 Under 40.
The Law Offices of Parente & Norem, P.C. was featured again on NBC Channel 5 News as the 25-foot-tall Tower Slide at Chicago’s Maggie Daley Park is set to be removed after dozens of reports of injuries and lawsuits have been made, as well as several emergency vehicles responding to the park. You can view attorneys Christopher Norem and Jason Gatzulis by clicking on this link: Maggie Daley Park Will Lose Popular Attraction Following Injuries, Lawsuits. The Law Offices of Parente & Norem, P.C. currently represents numerous plaintiffs that have sustained serious injuries, typically on the lower left side of the body, from using the Tower Slide at Maggie Daley Park. Contact our office today if you believe that you sustained a fractured knee or ankle after using the Tower Slide at Maggie Daley Park.
Subcontractor hauling dirt for projects at O’Hare had shoulder, knee injuries
BY JORDYN REILAND
Law Bulletin staff writer
A truck driver who was injured when the dump truck he was operating flipped onto its driver’s side has settled his lawsuit with all but one of the defendants for more than $3.9 million.
Circuit Judge Irwin J. Solganick entered a settlement order on Jan. 7 after the parties completed four mediations with retired Cook County judge and ADR Systems mediator William E. Gomolinski. The case remains pending against defendant Chicago Airport Resources Enterprises LLC.
In January 2016, a major construction project was ongoing at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. All of the contractors involved in the projects were instructed to dump their excess dirt “spoils” onto the “Schlitz Road Stockpile” — located on airport property — so they did not have to pay to haul it elsewhere.
On Jan. 5, 2016, Gildardo Antunez, employed by CAS Construction Inc., was tasked to haul the dirt on behalf of defendant Reyes Group Ltd., an excavation contractor for some of the ongoing projects. Antunez was brought onto the site by defendant hauling sub-contractor E. King Construction.
On that day Antunez, while attempting to dump the spoils onto the designed site, flipped his truck onto its driver’s side after the wheels sunk into the soft soil as he raised his dump box.
He contended the ground was too soft, he was on a greater than 5% slope and no spotters were present, making for unsafe conditions, according to one of his attorneys Christopher M. Norem of Parente & Norem P.C.
Antunez, then 57, sustained a left scapular fracture, a left full thickness rotator cuff tear that required surgery, a right knee medial meniscus tear requiring surgery, aggravation of a preexisting degenerative disk disease, among other injuries. He has not returned to work, Norem said.
The settlement also includes a $3.975 million set-off, the total value of the agreement, with the remaining defendant.
Antunez was also represented by Matthew J. Coleman of Parente & Norem P.C.
Norem said he is “extremely pleased with the result on a very complicated fact pattern.”
“Gildardo was literally the lowest level third tier hauling subcontractor on the project and we were able to obtain a just resolution for him from the settled defendants despite their best efforts to blame him and his employer for the event,” Norem said in an email.
Meccon Industries, a general contractor, is represented by Anthony J. Cacchillo of Cacchillo Law Group.
The city and Aero Chicago LLC, a project developer, are represented by Michael S. McGrory of SmithAmundsen LLC.
Reyes Group is represented by Yaro M. Melnyk of Cassiday Schade LLP.
Autumn Construction Services Inc., Meccon’s site safety contractor, is represented by Matthew J. Ligda of Pretzel & Stouffer Chtd.
FCL Builders Inc., a general contractor, is represented by Daniel P. Costello of Daniel P. Costello & Associates PC.
Austin Power Partners, a general contractor, and Lindahl Brothers Inc., an excavation contractor, are represented by David J. Darling of Stone & Johnson Chtd.
Plote Construction Inc., an excavation contractor, is represented by Bryan Curry of Litchfield Cavo LLP.
E. King Construction Co. is represented by John S. Huntley of Sanchez Daniels & Hoffman LLP.
Chicago Airport Resources Enterprises LLC, in charge of providing quality control, site engineering and site safety on behalf of the city, is represented by Thomas R. Pender of Cremer Spina Shaughnessy Jansen & Siegert LLC.
None of the above parties could immediately be reached for comment.
CAS Construction Co. is represented by Jennifer Rawe Wagner of Magnani & Buck Ltd. Wagner declined to comment.
The case is Gildardo Antunez v. Meccon Industries, Inc., et al., 16 L 10332.
High-low agreement, however, reduces sum to $15M; transit broker included in verdict
BY JORDYN REILAND
Law Bulletin staff writer
A federal jury awarded $18.6 million to the wife of a Canadian truck driver who died after a collision with a tractor trailer on Interstate 80 in LaSalle County.
But the plaintiff, Natalia Volkova, will recover $15 million following a high-low agreement the lawyers entered into after closing arguments. The high was $15 million; the low was $4 million.
A verdict was reached Thursday after a trial before U.S. District Judge Ronald A. Guzman.
Dung Quoc Nguyen owned and operated Antioch Transport Inc., a trucking company based in Antioch, Calif.
Shortly before 4 a.m. on Aug. 10, 2014, Nguyen was hauling a load for freight broker C.H. Robinson Co. Inc. when he fell asleep and crossed over the median, entering the westbound traffic lanes of I-80 in Rutland Township, east of Ottawa, in LaSalle County, according to court records.
Nguyen woke up and attempted a U-turn, blocking all westbound lanes of travel.
Alexandre Volkov, 54, also a truck driver, was driving west along I-80 when he “unavoidably” crashed into the side of Nguyen’s tractor trailer.
Volkov died from injuries sustained in the crash, according to his family’s attorney, Christopher M. Norem of Parente & Norem P.C.
Volkov’s wife filed a lawsuit in February 2016 against Nguyen, Antioch Transport Inc. and C.H. Robinson, alleging negligence, wrongful death, vicarious liability, negligent hiring and survival action claims against the defendants.
Norem said the negligence claims against Nguyen, his company and the agency claim against C.H. Robinson proceeded to trial.
He argued C.H. Robinson was responsible for Nguyen’s conduct that day because of the level of control they had over his work. C.H. Robinson mandated Nguyen remain in constant contact with the company, that he meet certain deadlines or face penalties, ensure his trailer is set to a certain temperature, among other standards.
The jury found the driver was a legal agent of C.H. Robinson making them legally responsible for the crash.
Norem said the jury’s finding was significant because C.H. Robinson is one of the largest freight transportation service companies and third party logistics providers in North America.
“They are putting thousands of supposed ‘independent contractor’ drivers like Dung Nguyen on our highways every day, controlling all of their conduct and when one of them negligently kills someone they immediately claim they are ‘independent contractors’ so they have no legal responsibility for them,” he said.
Nguyen’s defense attorneys denied negligence and argued Volkov was contributorily negligent in the crash. Norem said a state police crash reconstructionist testified at trial that Volkov was only traveling 65 miles per hour at the time, used his horn and attempted to break before hitting Nguyen’s truck.
Cole H. Munvez of Parente & Norem also represented the plaintiff.
Nguyen and Antioch Transport Inc. were represented by Jamie S. Lane of SmithAmundsen LLC.
C.H. Robinson Co. Inc. and C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. were represented by William J. Ryan and Eric J. Munoz of Scandaglia Ryan LLP.
They could not immediately be reached.
The case is Natalia Volkova v. C.H. Robinson Co. Inc., et al., 16 C 1883.
The Law Offices of Parente & Norem, P.C. was featured in an NBC Channel 5 News investigative report relating to the Maggie Daley Park Tower Slide Injuries. You can view Christopher Norem in the NBC Channel 5 News investigate report by clicking on this link: Has Maggie Daley Park Cleaned Up Its Slide Issues? NBC Channel 5 News originally did a piece regarding growing safety concerns at Maggie Daley Park back on August 20, 2015. Four years later the Tower Slide remains unaltered and opened. The Law Offices of Parente & Norem, P.C. currently represents numerous plaintiffs that have sustained serious injuries, typically on the lower left side of the body, from using the Tower Slide at Maggie Daley Park. Contact our office today if you believe that you sustained a fractured knee or ankle after using the Tower Slide at Maggie Daley Park.
The Law Firm of Parente & Norem, P.C. takes great pleasure in announcing Matthew J. Coleman has been elevated to a Partner at the firm and head of its Workers’ Compensation practice. Parente & Norem, P.C. is a Plaintiff’s litigation and trial practice firm that concentrates in workers’ compensation, wrongful death, medical negligence and all forms of personal injury including FELA. We have offices in Chicago and Joliet, IL. Matt and the rest of our attorneys can be reached at 312-641-5926.
29-year-old driver suffered back injury in highway collision
BY JORDYN REILAND
Law Bulletin staff writer
A man who sustained a back injury after a Will County sheriff’s deputy rear-ended him has settled his suit for $1.95 million.
The settlement entered on Thursday was reached roughly two weeks before the case was scheduled for trial, according to plaintiff’s attorney Christopher M. Norem of Parente & Norem P.C.
In June 2014, Justin Wojtkowski was driving north on Interstate 55 near Bolingbrook when traffic came to a stop and he was rear-ended by Will County Sheriff’s Deputy Anthony J. Hofer.
Norem said in an interview his client’s vehicle sustained “significant” rear-end damage and the front of the squad car was equally damaged with airbags deployed.
Wojtkowski, then 29, sustained herniation of the disk between the L5 and S1 vertebrae in the lower back, also known as the lumbosacral joint.
Wojtkowski went to physical therapy and received epidural injections to treat the injury. Norem said his client’s doctor recommended a lumbar fusion, but he declined given the risk he would no longer be able to continue work as a pipe fitter and welder.
Regardless of the operation, Wojtowski’s doctor determined his “work life” has been shortened by 10 years as a result of the injury, Norem said.
Wojtkowski previously worked as a diesel technician and trailer mechanic but trained to become a pipe fitter and welder for ExxonMobil in 2015 — giving him the ability to earn more than $100,000 a year.
Will County admitted negligence by its deputy but contested the seriousness of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Norem said the county’s neurosurgical expert contended Wojtkowski’s injury was degenerative and that he only experienced symptoms related to the crash for nine months after the crash.
While his client is still able to work in his field, Norem said the settlement compensates him for a potentially shortened career.
He said the case shows “you don’t necessarily need a huge operation or high medical bills to be fairly compensated.” Wojtkowski was also represented by Joseph D. Parente and W. Jason Gatzulis of Parente & Norem.
Will County and its deputy were represented by Thomas J. Condon Jr. and Dominick L. Lanzito of Peterson Johnson & Murray — Chicago LLC. They could not be reached for comment.
The Will County Circuit Court case is Justin T. Wojtkowski v. Anthony K. Hofer, et al., 15 L 120.
Man settles injury case for $6.1M, including $700K in post judgment interest, after the verdict was affirmed by the Appellate court.
Man settles injury case for $6.1 Million
BY JORDYN REILAND
Law Bulletin staff writer
A diesel mechanic has settled his lawsuit against Union Pacific Railroad Co. for $6.1 million seven years after he sustained lower back and groin injuries when he slipped while working at a rail yard.
The settlement agreement was reached in November after a series of post-trial motions and an unpublished 1st District Appellate Court opinion, according to plaintiffs’ attorney Christopher M. Norem of Parente & Norem P.C.
In February 2017, Cook County jurors awarded $5.4 million to plaintiff Andreas Bakopoulos in his Federal Employers’ Liability
Act case against the railroad company. The verdict was reduced from $9 million for contributory negligence. Bakopoulos sued the railroad in 2013 alleging it failed to give him proper tools and a safe workplace while he was repairing a fuel leak in April 2011.
Union Pacific filed post-trial motions requesting a new trial which Circuit Judge Thomas V. Lyons II denied in September
The defendant then appealed to the 1st District Appellate Court, arguing Lyons erred when he submitted a jury instruction regarding the assumption of risk doctrine; approved use of the plaintiff’s itemized verdict form; and reinstructed the jury to deliberate further and return a newly calculated verdict after it initially returned an inconsistent verdict.
Union Pacific contended that including the specific jury instruction would confuse jurors when they determined if Bakopoulos was contributorily negligent. The panel, however, was not convinced. “Considering the jury instructions in their entirety along with the evidence and argument presented at trial, we are not persuaded that the assumption of risk instruction misled the jury about its ability to find contributory negligence,” Justice Mathias W. Delort wrote. “Indeed, the jury found Bakopoulos 39.5 [percent] at fault, which comports with the evidence and indicates that the jury was not confused by the alleged instruction.”
The panel also rejected the defense’s argument as to Lyons’ instructions to the jury when they returned an inconsistent verdict.
Delort wrote, at this point, it was clear the jury had found in favor of Bakopoulos.
He also noted the defense never objected to the proceedings at the time or moved for a mistrial.
“The circuit court in this case had the authority to direct the jury to correct the defects in its verdict prior to recording and discharge,” he wrote. “The polling of the jury thereafter confirmed the verdict rendered.”
Once the order was entered Norem said settlement discussions ensued. Norem said at that time Union Pacific owed Bakopoulos roughly $6.26 million, which included interest.
Despite the defense’s efforts to lower the amount they ultimately agreed upon $6.1 million.
Bakopoulos was also represented on appeal by Timothy J. Storm of the Law Office of Timothy J. Storm in Wauconda and Joseph D. Parente of Parente & Norem P.C.
Union Pacific was represented on appeal by J. Timothy Eaton and Jonathan B. Amarilio of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP.
They could not be reached for comment.
The case is Andreas Bakopoulos v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., 13 L 2997. firstname.lastname@example.org