Johnson & Bell, Ltd. Shareholder, Joseph B. Carini, III, received a not guilty verdict on behalf of his client, Meade Electric Company. The plaintiff, a hoisting engineer, was performing work in connection with a water main repair when the backhoe he was operating came to a sudden and violent stop after striking an object in the street. The plaintiff contended that the object was an I-beam used to support Commonwealth Edison Company ducts, which had been negligently installed above grade by Meade Electric Company. The plaintiff suffered post-concussion syndrome, a shoulder injury requiring SLAP lesion repair, and claimed low back injuries ultimately resulting in fusion surgery four years after the accident. The plaintiff claimed he had lost over $220,000 in past income and $1.5 million in future income, in addition to over $210,000 in medical expenses. The plaintiff asked $6.4 million of the jury.
The defense contended that the beam was properly installed below grade, and that the plaintiff struck another object, not that installed by the defendants. The defendants also contended the plaintiff was at fault for traveling too fast for conditions, such that he was catapulted from the operator’s position of his vehicle upon impact with the unknown object. The defendants also contended that the low back surgery was not related to the incident. The jury returned a not guilty verdict in favor of the defense finding the plaintiff was more than 50% at fault for causing the accident and injury.