Verdicts & Settlements
Semitrailer Loading Negligence Results in Permanent Back Injuries
Our client was a former marine who knew the importance of doing his job in a safe manner. As a truck driver, our client was responsible for unloading products that were loaded into his trailer by the defendants. Although our client repeatedly warned his supervisors that the defendants were carelessly loading his trailer, the defendants did nothing to improve the safety of their loading methods. On one particular instance, the defendants’ carelessness resulted in products tipping over and spilling inside our client’s trailer. Attempting to upright the products, our client suffered terrible back injuries when the products shifted and fell on top of him. Because the defendants denied responsibility for our client’s injuries, our client was forced to burn through his savings and sell many of his personal possessions, including his fiancé’s engagement ring.
At trial, through the use of expert medical testimony, the jury agreed with JKFM attorney Jarrett Northup that our client’s injuries were a direct and proximate result of the defendants negligence and would continue to plague our client for the rest of his life. After a two hour deliberation the jury returned one of the largest verdicts, for a case of this type, in Cuyahoga County history.
Turnpike Accident Results in Traumatic Brain Injury & Fractures
Our Client worked as a tow truck driver on the Ohio Turnpike. He responded to a disabled tractor-trailer on the right berm during a snowstorm. Due to weather conditions, only one lane had been plowed and traffic was moving at about 30 mph. A driver on his employer’s business set his cruise control at 60 mph and tried to “make time” in the unplowed left lane. The driver lost control, skidded across three lanes and struck our Client as he worked near his tow truck with its overhead caution lights flashing. Our Client suffered multiple fractures and a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Permanent symptoms of the TBI included stuttering, a loss of executive function, amnesia and tremors. The driver claimed he could not be held responsible for the incident as he had been cut-off in traffic and experienced a sudden emergency. The defense also challenged the extent of the TBI. After extensive investigation and discovery, we established a good deal of evidence to show that the driver simply lost control while traveling far too fast for the weather conditions. Working with a nurse psychologist, neuropsychologist, neurologist, physical medicine & rehabilitation specialist, economist and life care planner, Attorney Dave Forrest demonstrated the severity of the brain injury. A very substantial settlement was reached at mediation.
Pedestrian Suffers Concussion and Fractures of Both Femurs
Even though our Client lived in a group home, due to mental illness, she was active, productive and loved to walk. She also knew the importance of crossing streets in the crosswalk and with the light. She followed these rules in March 2006, but could not avoid the SUV that made a left turn directly into her path. Our Client was struck and thrown into the roadway suffering a concussion, forehead lacerations and fractures of both of her thigh bones (femurs). She required both plastic surgery and orthopedic surgery, including the installation of plates, screws and surgical nails. Following surgery, she then entered a nursing home in order to again learn to walk. The driver of the SUV did not accept responsibility, but claimed that our Client jumped from the curb directly into the path of his vehicle. Testimony obtained from police officers, including accident reconstruction specialists, demonstrated that it was the driver who broke the rules of the road. Our efforts not only resulted in a significant recovery for our Client, but reimbursement to Medicare for the medical costs that it had paid due to the injuries caused by the driver’s negligence. Resort to the civil justice system and the efforts of our lawyers resulted in a benefit not only to our Client, but also to the health care system.
Contaminated Food Causes Botulism and Severe Injuries
A 38 year old printer did something we all do – he ate food from a can purchased at a local grocery. The canned food was contaminated by toxic bacteria which was shown to have caused botulism, a dangerous and potentially deadly illness. Our Client suffered temporary quadriparesis (loss of use of arms & legs), required a tracheostomy (which resulted in vocal chord damage), was hospitalized for more than 3 months and incurred medical bills of almost one-half million dollars. Attorney Mike Monteleone reached a substantial settlement with the food manufacturer based upon claims including negligence, breach of warranty and violations of the Pure Food & Drug Act and the Consumer Sales Practices Act.
Medication Error During Surgery Causes Brain Damages
A 45 year old man was taken to surgery to repair a recurrent hernia. On admission, our client reported allergies to penicillin and Bacitracin, a drug commonly used to irrigate surgical sites to prevent infection. The Bacitracin allergy was noted in the surgeon’s chart, the hospital records and the red alert bracelet placed on the patient’s wrist. During surgery, the operative site was doused with Bacitracin causing anaphylactic shock and a loss of oxygen to the patient’s brain. Our client is now quadriplegic and will remain in an extended care facility for life. A substantial settlement was recovered from the hospital and, on the eve of trial, the surgeon also agreed to settle. The knowledge and skill of attorney Jane Rua was instrumental in obtaining just compensation for our client.
Electrical Explosion Causes Burns to 77% of Client’s Body
A second-shift maintenance man attempted to troubleshoot an electrical problem affecting operations at the plant where he worked. The plant was part of a larger business complex which was leased from a company which was responsible for maintaining all electrical transformers, substations and switchgear. Our client opened an electrical cabinet (which was supposed to be locked) to look for any obvious problems. As he opened the door, a ball of flame shot out of the cabinet setting our client ablaze. He suffered burns to 77% of his body surface, mostly 3rd degree. Our client underwent 11 surgeries, multiple skin grafts and developed post-traumatic stress disorder. Working with a team of electrical experts and engineers, attorney Dave Forrest showed that the fire was caused by the landlord’s negligent maintenance; the switchgear and substations were shown to contain years of rodent infestation which caused the malfunction. A substantial settlement was reached at mediation.
Lack of Guard on CNC Milling Machine Results in Leg Amputation
Our client, a Croatian immigrant who played European professional soccer, operated a CNC milling machine for a Northeast Ohio corporation. As part of the machining process, metal chips accumulate at the rear of the machine and must periodically be cleaned up. The company provided a rake-like tool used to remove chips and kept the rake in the area between the machine bed and a pallet changer. As our client raked the chips, the bed of the machine moved and the leg was trapped and lacerated to the extent that the doctors had no choice but to amputate the leg. This area of the machine was a “pinch point” which was to be guarded according to state and federal regulations. While the company had no safety guard in place, it blamed the operator and denied responsibility. After a good deal of investigation, including obtaining information from the company that serviced the CNC machine, a significant settlement was reached.
Contractor Negligently Delivers Drywall / Leg Fracture & Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
Our client was excited to have an addition built on her home. She and her fiancé did a lot of the work themselves and then hired a drywall contractor once the shell of the structure was enclosed. A drywall supplier delivered materials and leaned 15 – 20 sheets of drywall (about 90 pounds / sheet) against the wall. Manufacturer warnings and industry standards say that drywall should not be leaned due to the risk of the material falling. As our Client walked through the room, the drywall fell striking her right lower leg and snapping her right tibia. While the fracture healed, a painful and disabling condition, reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) developed. Our lawyers worked with a construction professor at Ohio State University and secured a fair settlement at mediation.
Drill Press Operator / Ring Finger Amputation
A drill press operator with more than 20 years’ experience knew that the danger area of the press should be guarded. The employer had a guard in place but then removed it. Not only did the company fail to replace the guard, but it instructed workers to insert and remove pieces while the drill function of the press remained running. While trying to remove a piece from the machine our client’s glove was caught by the rotating drill bit. Medical efforts to save her fingers were only partially successful and the left ring finger was amputated. While our client was pleased with the settlement we reached for her, she was saddened that after 40 years of marriage she could never wear her wedding ring on her left ring finger.
Gasoline Station Explosion / Manager Engulfed in Flames
As the manager of a gasoline station in Central Ohio, our Client was responsible for maintenance of the valves and hoses of the gas pumps. Unfortunately, the company he worked for required him to keep the pumps running while he did the work so gas could be sold from all other pumps. This procedure permitted gas to flow from all pumps dispensing the same grade of gas. As the manager changed a filter, gas began to flow and he became drenched with fuel. He could not hit the emergency shut-off because the company located it in a locked building across the lot. Our client tried to stop the gush of gasoline but the fumes ignited setting him on fire. Extensive medical bills were incurred for the treatment of the horrendous burns and their psychological effects. The company argued that it had no idea that this could happen and claimed the manager was at fault. Lawyers at Jeffries, Kube, Forrest & Monteleone secured a sizable settlement for the station manager.
Rapid Transit Train Strikes and Kills 7 Year Old Near City Park
Our clients lived only a couple of blocks from a local park in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood. Their children often played at the park but, on a clear Spring day, their 7 year old son wandered through an opening in a fence onto a path leading to the RTA rapid transit tracks. The operator of a westbound train saw the young boy near the track, slowed his train, blew the whistle and issued a radio alert to all trains telling operators to watch out for the child. The operator of the train traveling eastbound testified that she did not hear the radio alert and did not see the child near the track until it was too late to stop. The train struck and killed the little boy. The boy’s parents turned to Mike Monteleone for help with their wrongful death claim. Not only was it argued that the operator should have heard the radio alert, but with the assistance of a traffic reconstruction expert experienced in train litigation, a compelling case was made that the boy could have been seen by the operator from a distance more than sufficient for the train to stop. A substantial settlement was obtained for the family of the child.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE/DEATH OF PREGNANT MOTHER DUE TO MISDIAGNOSIS
17-year-old expectant mother was taken to the emergency room with terrible abdominal pains. She was sent home and told she had a urinary tract infection. Ten hours later her uterus ruptured. She died and the fetus drowned in the mother’s blood. The case was tried to a jury which returned one of the largest verdicts on behalf of the family in a neighboring county.
FOOD POISONING CAUSES RARE REACTIVE ARTHRITIS
A family ordered Chinese food from a local carry-out restaurant. Every person who ate chicken fried rice became seriously ill. Testing of the leftovers by the Health Department found salmonella bacteria, apparently due to improper storage and refrigeration of chicken. Unfortunately, due to a unique genetic factor, the salmonella triggered a painful condition called reactive arthritis in one of the family members. A significant recovery was obtained from the restaurant in settlement of a pending lawsuit.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT CAUSES MEDICAL CONDITION AND DEATH
A grandmother was a passenger in a car driven by her husband of 50 years. A semi-truck failed to yield to the couple’s right-of-way causing what appeared to be a relatively minor collision. The passenger suffered a contusion to her chest which, in turn, caused inflammation and shortness of breath. The decreased lung activity increased the risk of infection, and our client developed sepsis which caused her death 10 days after the collision. The trucking company claimed that the infection was a consequence of cardiac surgery, including aortic valve replacement, 10 months earlier. Careful attention to the medical facts enabled us to obtain a significant recovery for this wrongful death.
IMPROPER SAFETY DEVICE/EMPLOYER AND MACHINE REBUILDER CONTRIBUTE TO SETTLEMENT
Products liability/employment intentional tort claim against a rubber processing plant. The worker lost four (4) fingers in a rubber milling machine. The products liability claim against the re-builder was for failing to install a pressure sensitive “belly-bar” near the nip point. Instead, re-builder installed a cable type emergency stop device that had to be physically pulled by the operator of the machine. Plaintiff’s hand got caught in the tacky rubber product and was pulled into the nip point. The employer had experienced similar incidents on other nearly identical machines and only updated the machine involved in those injuries. The case settled for a significant amount shortly before trial.
PRODUCTS LIABILITY/WRONGFUL DEATH – WORKER CRUSHED BY TRAILER DOOR
Products liability claim against manufacturer of race trailer. The trailer door also served as a ramp to drive race cars into trailer. Decedent raised the trailer door and leaned into the space between the trailer body and the door to wipe mud off the inside. Decedent’s belt buckle got caught on the toggle switch that controlled the door causing the door to close on him crushing him to death. The claim against the manufacturer was that the design of the switch was defective and that it should have been recessed or if not, it should have been covered with a shroud. This wrongful death claim settled shortly before trial.
DEATH OF CHILD/SURGERY IMPROPERLY PERFORMED WHILE HE HAD PNEUMONIA
An eight-year-old child was brought to both the pediatrician and emergency room with clear signs of pneumonia and was diagnosed as having appendicitis. The x-ray doctor who reviewed the x-rays neglected to point out he had pneumonia in one of his lungs. Surgery was done for appendicitis and the child died.
TRACTOR TRAILER ACCIDENT RESULTS IN BRAIN DAMAGE
Young, single, female executive was out-of-town helping to merge two giant grocery chains. She left a party one evening with an employee of one of the grocery stores, and their car was demolished by a tractor trailer. She is permanently disabled and has suffered brain damage, among other injuries. Her case was settled before trial for one of the largest settlements in the county.
GUARD REMOVED RESULTING IN CRUSHED HAND
A young woman was injured when her hand inadvertently entered the point of operation of a package sealing machine when she was trying to adjust the package as she had been instructed. The employer had removed a guard which would have prevented the injury. The case resulted in a confidential settlement in favor of the young woman.
UNDERINSURED DRUNK DRIVER CAUSES SPINAL INJURIES
A young mother and three children were struck by a drunk driver while returning from a family vacation. The mother sustained a very serious spinal injury requiring surgery. The drunk driver had insufficient insurance limits and an underinsured motorist claim was brought against the family’s own insurance carrier in addition to the claim against the drunk driver. A substantial settlement was entered after lengthy litigation.
VERDICT AGAINST INSURANCE COMPANY/UNDERINSURED MOTORIST CLAIM
A jury awarded a verdict in favor of a young man injured while a passenger in his friend’s motor vehicle. The friend had a low limit of insurance and a claim was brought against the young man’s own insurance carrier for underinsured motorist benefits. The insurance company claimed that the young man had been reasonably compensated and therefore was not entitled to any money from the insurance company for underinsured motorist benefits. The Summit County jury disagreed and made an award in excess of the insurance company policy limits.
JONES ACT/MARITIME – BRAIN INJURY
Maritime case under Jones Act against ship owner and employer of merchant mariner. Plaintiff suffered a brain injury and numerous spinal fractures when he fell 40 feet into a cargo hold. Plaintiff was standing on a hatch. The hatch operator mistook Plaintiff’s gesture for a signal and opened the hatch, causing the fall. The problem would have been avoided had the ship been adequately manned. The case resolved at mediation for a substantial, confidential amount.