Law Bulletin staff writer

A Chicago man who suffered a severely broken ankle in a vehicle accident has received a $2.95 million settlement. On Aug. 22, 2012, Andreas Bakopoulos was driving his Mitsubishi Eclipse near 4350 W. Ohio St. He was on a lunch break from his job as a mechanic for the Union Pacific Railroad.

At the same time, Scott Lee Ridenour, an employee of Grand Warehouse and Distribution Corp., was driving a Ford cargo van owned by the company east on Ohio Street. Ridenour made a left turn and collided with Bakopoulos’ car, the lawsuit alleges.

As a result of the accident, Bakopoulos’ right leg became wedged underneath the car’s dashboard resulting in a severely broken right ankle, said his attorney, Christopher M.
Norem, a partner at Parente & Norem P.C. Bakopoulos, 38, later underwent two surgeries on his ankle. His medical bills were $144,000. A lawyer for Grand Warehouse asserted that Bakopoulos was speeding and talking on his cellphone when the accident occurred. Bakopoulos denied those allegations.

At the time of the accident, Bakopoulos was assigned to light duty at work because of a previous back injury suffered on the job that was unrelated to the vehicle accident. Due to his back injury, Bakopoulos had spinal fusion surgery in May and is unable to work for the railroad, Norem said.Grand Warehouse’s lawyer disputed that Bakopoulos lost any wages from the accident because the unrelated spinal fusion surgery prevented him from working. The lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court in 2012 alleges that Ridenour, as an agent of Grand Warehouse, negligently operated the van, turned into the left side of Bakopoulos’ vehicle when it was unsafe to do so and failed to yield the right of way. Bakopoulos is the divorced father of two young children. His injury prevents him from running around with his children, and he experiences difficulty walking on stairs and when entering and exiting vehicles, Norem said. Bakopoulos plans to invest the money from the settlement and live on the income provided by the investments, Norem said.

“It’s unlikely that he will return to an occupation with the wage earning power he had previously,” Norem said. The settlement “recognizes that something that sounds so innocuous, a broken ankle, can lead to changes in someone’s life that merit a $2.95 million settle- ment,” Norem said. Norem’s law firm partner, Joseph D. Parente, also repre- sented Bakopoulos.

The Hanover Insurance Group, the insurer for the defen- dants, paid the settlement money to Bakopoulos and his lawyers on Tuesday. The case is Andreas Bakopoulos v. Grand Warehouse Distribution Corp. and Scott Lee Ridenour, No. 2012 L 011551.

The defendants were repre-sented by Ronald R. Aeschliman, an associate at the Law Offices of Loretta M. Griffin. He couldn’t be reached for comment. Griffin declined to comment. The settlement resulted from a daylong mediation session last week with John A. Ward, a retired Cook County circuit judge.