$6.785M settlement (plus the complete waiver of a $269K worker’s comp. lien) in the matter of Juan Hernandez Aguilar v. Kinzie Builders, LLC, et al. (2018 L 010486) pending in Cook County, IL before the Honorable Judge Jerry A. Esrig.
This matter settled late Friday afternoon (10/28) following motions in limine, which occurred earlier in the week. Jury selection was scheduled to begin Monday, 10/31/22.
Juan Hernandez Aguilar is a 41 year-old bricklayer foreman working for Third-Party Defendant, Hill Masonry, Inc. in Lake County, Illinois on a large town home and apartment project known as “Deer Park Crossing.” The General Contractor on the project was Kinzie Builders, LLC and the Carpentry Subcontractor on the project was Horizon Carpentry, Inc.
On January 26, 2018, Juan and his crew were assigned to work on a building that was in need of a masonry repair in the garage area on the ground floor. While he and his crew were working on the repair, a 70lb sheet of plywood fell out of a second story window of the building striking him on the top of his head and fracturing his C6 vertebrae requiring a C5-C7 double level fusion surgery with plates. After 10 months of rehabilitation Juan returned to his position as a foreman bricklayer for Hill Masonry in a “Medium” job capacity. His employer accommodates his permanent restrictions.
The plywood was brought onto the job site by the Carpentry Subcontractor, Horizon Carpentry, and left sticking out of the second story window for several days prior to the event. The General Contractor, Kinzie recognized the unsafe condition presented by the plywood the day before the event and ordered the carpenters to remove it but they did not do so prior to high winds displacing one of the sheets causing it to fall onto Juan.
On October 1, 2021, Judge Esrig granted plaintiff’s motion for leave to plead punitive damages against Defendant Horizon Carpentry based on their reckless disregard for safety on the job site. That order is attached.
Plaintiff did not seek medical bills or wage loss as part of his damages in this case.
The $6.785M settlement was apportioned $4,642,500.00 on behalf of Horizon Carpentry and $2,142,500.00 on behalf of Kinzie Builders.
The plaintiff was represented by:
- Christopher M. Norem
- Dennis Lynch
- Joseph D. Parente, all of The Law Offices of Parente & Norem, PC
Parente & Norem trial attorney, Dennis Lynch, has been published in this month’s Illinois State Bar Association Tort Trends newsletter. The article, ‘Confusing Duty and Breach of Duty in Motion Practice’ highlights differences between the two and how they are often conflated and confused in practice.
Congratulations to Dennis on his publication! To learn more about Dennis Lynch and to contact him for a free case evaluation click here.
$6,000,000 settlement for carpenter after offer is increased by $2,000,000
following opening statements
A Cook County construction negligence case has settled for $6,000,000 mid-trial.
Joshua Rominski was a Local 13 Union Carpenter when he was injured on the job on February 9, 2016. Rominski was working for Service Drywall and Decorating doing rough carpentry during construction of an addition to the Mather Place retirement home in Wilmette, Illinois. W.E. O’Neill was the general contractor for the project.
As part of the project, a temporary scaffold staircase was constructed to allow each worker to access the site. Rominski alleged that on the morning of February 9, 2016, after using the stairs several times, he slipped on snow and ice and fell down several steps, injuring his back. Weather reports showed there was minimal snow that morning – .04 of an inch – and Rominski’s foreman and coworkers could not recall there being snow or ice on the stairs. Accident reports filled out later that day indicated there was ice and snow.
Plaintiff claimed that any ice or snow on the stairs violated OSHA’s scaffolding rules. They further claimed that W.E. O’Neill was short staffed on the day of the accident – its site safety supervisor has left W.E. O’Neill and had not been replaced, the labor foreman was sent to another jobsite that day, and the project manager did not come to work until later in the day. One W.E. O’Neil laborer testified that he would have gotten to work early and cleared any snow and ice from the stairs before any subcontractors started working.
As a result of his fall, Rominski had an L5-S1 fusion and was unable to return to work as a union carpenter. However, W.E. O’Neil claimed Rominski was able to work at the medium demand level, which was all that Service Drywall’s job description required. Rominski’s father and grandfather were union carpenters, and his inability to return to that job had a profound impact on him.
The case was twice mediated before Judge William Gomolinski of ADR Systems. Prior to opening statements, W.E. O’Neill offered $4,000,000. After opening statements, W.E. O’Neil offered $6,000,000, which was accepted by Rominski. Additionally, Service Drywall agreed to reduce its workers’ compensation lien by half. Judge Israel Desierto presided over the trial.
Attorney Matt Coleman also represented Rominski in his workers’ compensation case. In that case, the Workers’ Compensation Commission Arbitrator denied the claim – finding that Rominski only suffered a back strain and could return to work. The Workers’ Compensation Commission reversed the arbitrator and awarded benefits. This decision was recently affirmed by the Appellate Court. Service Drywall and Decorating v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, 2022 IL App (1st) 210965WC-U (4/22/22). As a result of the Arbitrator’s ruling denying the claim, Rominski went without pay or medical benefits for over 5 years.
W.E. O’Neil was represented by Katherine Crouch and Howard Trafman of Lindsey, Picket and Postel.
Service Drywall and Decorating was represented by Brad Smith of Keefe, Campbell, Biery.
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.