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Illinois Partner Prevails at Three-Day Jury Trial in Trucking Collision Case

Chicago Partner Scott D. Stephenson recently obtained a favorable jury verdict in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court in Will County, Illinois. The total verdict for both Plaintiffs was significantly less than the pre-trial settlement offer made by our masonry contractor client.

Prior to the July 2023 jury trial, Scott’s client admitted negligence in causing the accident, which occurred when its employee, while driving a company dump truck on the interstate at 60 MPH, collided with the rear of the vehicle occupied by Plaintiffs and their two minor children. Photos of the substantial damage to both vehicles were submitted in evidence by Plaintiffs to indicate the force of the impact.

Following the collision, the female plaintiff, who was 27 at the time of the accident, claimed she suffered a herniated disc in her lumbar spine. The male plaintiff, also 27 at the time of the accident, claimed cervical disc protrusions and facet joint syndrome in the thoracolumbar region of his spine. Plaintiffs’ two children who were in the vehicle at the time of the collision allegedly sustained minor injuries. Both Plaintiffs continue to receive extensive treatment for their injuries, and claim to have incurred more than $300,000 in combined medical expenses. Our defense disputed the extent of the injuries claimed by both Plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs’ treating pain management physician, who was also disclosed as their controlled expert witness, opined that both Plaintiffs suffered permanent injuries and will require ongoing treatment for the remainder of their lives. Plaintiffs’ counsel put into evidence testimony from their treating physician that the present cash value of their future medical expense is more than $1.4 million collectively.

On cross examination of Plaintiffs’ treating physician, Scott solicited testimony that Plaintiffs’ physician never reviewed any of the radiological imaging of either Plaintiffs’ spine, and simply relied on the radiology reports generated by the radiologists who read the films. Our partner was also able to establish through testimony of Plaintiffs and their treating physician/expert that both Plaintiffs were sent to that specific physician by their attorneys. During testimony, Plaintiffs also admitted that their attorneys referred them both to two additional physicians. Scott’s medical expert, a highly regarded spine surgeon in the Chicago area, disputed Plaintiffs’ claims and opined that both Plaintiffs suffered cervical and lumbar strain injuries that should have healed within a few months. Unlike Plaintiffs’ treating physician/expert, the defense medical expert reviewed the MRI’s of each Plaintiffs’ spine and concluded that neither suffered any underlying injuries to their respective spines.

In closing argument, Scott emphasized to the jury the disparity in the qualifications between Plaintiffs’ treating physician/expert and the defense expert. He also underscored the fact that the defense expert actually reviewed the radiology films, and emphasized the lack of any objective evidence of an underlying spinal injury to either Plaintiff. Plaintiffs’ counsel asked the jury to award Plaintiffs more than $4.7 million collectively. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of Plaintiffs in the collective amount of $450,000.

Due to his experience in the courtroom and litigation excellence, the jury awarded a verdict that was 25 percent less than the final combined pre-trial settlement offer, and more than 90 percent less than the amount Plaintiffs’ counsel requested the jury to award.

Scott has more than 30 years of experience as a trial attorney handling complex commercial litigation. He has extensive experience defending clients involved in trucking and commercial vehicle litigation, and also handles toxic tort, construction injury, construction defect and premises liability cases. Scott’s representative clients include general contractors, sub-contractors, owners and developers.