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Transportation Representative Cases

  • Obtained partial summary judgment in favor of their food transportation client and one of its drivers.  The ruling in favor of Johnson & Bell’s clients is likely to have positive ramifications for defendants in the future as it eliminates a trial tactic used by plaintiffs to seek “inflated” compensatory damages at the conclusion of trials. This case arises out of a December 2015 collision between the defendant’s truck and the driver of an automobile. The truck’s driver also is being defended by Johnson & Bell.  The driver veered into plaintiff’s lane as he was looking at his driver’s side-view mirror, coming into contact with plaintiff’s car.  Plaintiff filed a complaint that brought two counts, one against the truck driver and the other against the food transportation company. The count against the food transportation company presented two alternative theories of liability: vicarious liability under respondeat superior and negligent entrustment of the truck by the company to its driver. After the parties had exchanged some written discovery, Johnson & Bell filed an amended answer on behalf of its clients in which our client admitted that the driver was at fault for causing the accident; that he was an employee at the time it occurred; and that the company could be vicariously liable for his conduct should plaintiff succeed in proving damages.
  • Secured a favorable outcome for his public transit client. While the plaintiff sought $1.8 million in damages and the jury ultimately ruled in his favor, the jury awarded only $195,000 in damages.  In this case, the plaintiff, a conductor at a public transit agency, claimed to trip, fall and injure his wrist while walking through a rail yard. The plaintiff was originally diagnosed with a possible fracture that was later determined to either be a fracture or sprain, depending on the doctor. The plaintiff returned to work on two separate occasions before having surgery to repair carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel syndromes. Ultimately, the plaintiff returned to work less than a year after the incident. At trial, defense contended that the public transit agency provided the plaintiff with a reasonably safe place to work, as required by the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). Johnson & Bell also argued that his client did not receive notice of a hazardous condition in its rail yard – a fact the plaintiff contested.  Defense also asserted that the plaintiff was not injured to the extent that was claimed and that the symptoms of carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel syndrome were not related to the incident in question. In granting a verdict to the plaintiff, the jury appeared to give enormous weight to defense’s argument as they awarded less than 11 percent in damages compared to plaintiff’s demand to the jury.
  • Secured summary judgment in favor of our transportation client, who was mired in a business dispute over an alleged promise of start-up funding. In this case, plaintiff sought more than $500,000 in damages. Plaintiff claimed they were retained to create an Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliant ride-sharing program in Chicago – with the help of $500,000 of start-up funding allegedly promised by employees of our client. Plaintiff claimed that the funds were never provided, despite plaintiff investing more than $125,000 in services into the venture. Plaintiff charged our client with promissory estoppel and unjust enrichment in its complaint.The court accepted the plaintiff’s version of the facts. However, it still ruled in favor of our transportation client. On the issue of promissory estoppel, the court agreed that under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, our client could not be bound by promises made by its employees. Any such promises had to come from the board of directors of the company. With respect to the unjust enrichment claims, the court agreed with our contention that the services provided by plaintiff were covered by a separate contract with another organization. We argued that the plaintiff had been paid $50,000 under this separate contract – the maximum allowed under the agreement. As a result, the court ruled that plaintiff could not claim unjust enrichment.
  • Obtained a favorable outcome for a public transportation agency in a case of admitted negligence.  Plaintiff, who suffered various injuries when his vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle owned and operated by the client, asked for $7.5 million at trial.  In pre-trial negotiations, the defense team sought a more realistic damages amount given the plaintiff’s injuries, but plaintiff stated he would not settle for less than $1.5 million.  The team made a settlement offer of $750,000, and once this offer was refused, the case headed to trial.  The jury viewed the case and the plaintiff’s injuries very similar to the defense team.  While the jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff, it only awarded $500,000 in damages.
  • Obtained a defense verdict in a personal injury lawsuit where the plaintiff sought $1.4 million in damages for alleged injuries suffered while a passenger on a vehicle owned by the client, a public transportation agency.  Plaintiff claimed that he would never work again due to his injuries, which he said would require knee replacement surgery on both of his legs, in addition to other alleged injuries. Plaintiff also presented an elaborate accident reconstruction as part of his case. The defense countered that plaintiff suffered no injuries. The jury found that the plaintiff suffered no injury and awarded a verdict for the defense.
  • Obtained a verdict in favor of all defendants, including a waste-removal trucking company and its driver, from a Cook County, Illinois jury. The plaintiff, a 34-year-old male, had pre-existing paraplegia from a gunshot to the back when he was 15 years old. The plaintiff sought $3.3 million in damages, alleging that the defendant driver pulled out of an alley and t-boned him.
  • Obtained summary judgment in wrongful death action pending in federal court on behalf of trucker and trucking company in which the plaintiff alleged that defendant improperly merged in front of an oncoming tractor trailer.
  • Obtained a favorable result for a trucking company in federal court in South Bend, Indiana. In this case, the trucking company admitted fault, as its driver, who died as a result of the accident, rear-ended the plaintiff. The plaintiff was also in a semi-truck and stopped at a red light when the collision occurred. After a five-day jury trial in which the plaintiff asked the jury for $1.75 million, the jury returned a verdict of only $300,000. At a mediation before the trial, our client made a settlement offer of $450,000, but the plaintiff refused to drop his demand below $850,000.
  • Obtained defense verdict in rear-end accident case by establishing that a plaintiff's claims were fraudulent and based on pre-existing conditions unrelated to the incident in question.
  • Represented commuter railroad in various proceedings before the Indiana and Illinois Supreme Courts, and served as lead counsel in class action litigation involving claims of more than 200 passengers injured in the collision of two commuter trains.
  • Obtained summary judgment in wrongful death case involving a 24-year-old Academic All-American swimmer who pulled out from a stop sign into the path of a loaded refuse vehicle whose driver had admitted to speeding at the time of the accident. J&B established that the plaintiff decedent's conduct was not only the cause in fact of the accident, but also that her contributory fault was more than 50 percent the cause of the accident, thus barring her claim despite the speed of the defendant driver.
  • Represented over the road and local trucking companies and logistics companies in numerous catastrophic injury and wrongful death actions pending in state and federal courts.
  • Obtained summary judgment on behalf of the bus manufacturer in a wrongful death/product liability action involving a six year-old boy run over by a school bus.
  • Won favorable defense verdict in case in which a truck driver cut in front of a motor cyclist causing alleged severe brain damage by establishing at trial that the plaintiff's functional levels were much greater than he claimed.

Johnson and Bell

Johnson and Bell