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On Appeal, $41M Bar “Tab” Reversed; Defendant Gets New Trial

January 15, 2023

Johnson & Bell Shareholders, Robert M. Burke, David M. Macksey, and Garrett L. Boehm, Jr., secured a 2nd District Appellate Court ruling in favor of their client that reversed a $41 million verdict in Kendall County, IL.  The dispute also is remanded for a new trial.

The verdict initially was awarded to a man paralyzed after being forcibly removed by employees from a bar.  In this case, plaintiff became so intoxicated that he was cut off by the bar.  Soon after, plaintiff started a fight with the person with whom he came to the bar.  Employees broke up the fight and put plaintiff in a separate room.  Shortly thereafter, plaintiff emerged from the room only to start a second fight with the same individual.  Employees attempted to forcibly remove plaintiff from the bar, but he resisted and grabbed a pillar as he was being thrown out.  When employees pulled plaintiff from the pillar, they all fell through the door into the vestibule and onto the floor.  Plaintiff alleged that he was dropped on his neck, fracturing two vertebrae.  Despite surgery, his spinal injury was determined to likely be permanent and he remains a quadriplegic.  The defense firm that tried the case, in conjunction with Johnson & Bell, put together a post-trial motion for a new trial which was denied.  Johnson & Bell handled the appeal.

Johnson & Bell argued that the trial court erred by refusing to allow trial defense to amend its affirmative defenses to include self-defense after allowing plaintiff to amend his complaint. The appellate team also argued that the trial court denied defendant an opportunity to use plaintiff’s expert witness testimony as evidence of some other sole proximate cause of plaintiff’s injury.  The appellate team also raised a number of other issues related to improper arguments and other evidentiary issues, arguing that the cumulative nature of the errors required a new trial.

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