Experienced Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers
Chicago personal injury lawyers (from left to right: Jay Luchsinger, Clifford Horwitz, and Michael Carter from Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates) at the Jury Verdict Reporter Trial Lawyer Excellence Awards in 2013 where they received the award for the largest non-death compensatory personal injury verdict in Illinois history.
The Prime Contractor Claimed the Construction Accident was All Carpenter’s Fault
After five years of litigation and a week-long jury trial fighting against ISEC, Inc., twelve jurors awarded a local 10 journeyman carpenter, Gary Markovich, $5,745,600.00. Before the trial, defendant ISEC Inc., through their insurance carrier, Liberty Mutual Insurance, offered Mr. Markovich nothing.
Less than two years after receiving what was the largest personal injury verdict in Illinois history, the lead trial team at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates recovered another record-setting verdict on behalf of their client, Gary Markovich. Gary was a seasoned journeyman carpenter with 34 years of experience in the trade.
Seven years ago, Gary Markovich was on a construction site at the Northwestern Prentice Women’s Hospital working as a precision carpenter for Ventura Enterprises, a subcontractor hired by the prime contractor, ISEC, Inc.
During the morning hours of work, Gary was instructed to install changing room doors and partitions for handicapped persons in the basement of the hospital. For over an hour and a half, Gary set up the partitions for the dressing rooms by himself. When he began to drill and attach the hinges necessary to connect the swinging doors to the partitions, he was approached by ISEC’s superintendent.
“This was about 15 minutes before lunch when ISEC’s superintendent – Ed Bennet – approached Mr. Markovich and said, ‘Let me help.’ The defendant claimed that Gary should have never let his superintendent help him. Lead trial attorney, Clifford Horwitz commented, “What would you do when the boss of your boss tells you that they are going to help you?”
Within two minutes, Ed Bennet drilled into Gary Markovich’s right hand – his dominant hand – ending any future career in carpentry for Gary who was 55 years old at the time of the construction accident. The quarter of an inch drill bit wrapped the ulnar nerve, ultimately shredding it like spaghetti.
If you have ever hit your funny bone, then you have an understanding of what the ulnar nerve is – it is what causes that uncomfortable jolt in your arm when you accidently hit the inside of your elbow. The nervous system is a collection of neurons made up axons, dendrites and synapses that work together to transmit electrochemical responses from the rest of the body to the brain and vice-a-versa.
“When you destroy a nerve like Gary’s ulnar nerve, it’s synonymous with cutting an electrical cord that is still plugged in. Electricity is still being transmitted through the cord, but it’s not reaching the destination that it is supposed to. In Gary’s case, this problem is creating consistent painful sensations throughout the hand, arm and shoulder,” stated Cliff Horwitz.
CRPS, also known as complex regional pain syndrome, is a chronic pain condition that results from injury to the peripheral and central nervous systems. Treating doctors of Mr. Markovich testified that Gary had stage III CRPS and that there was no cure. There are two types of CRPS and Mr. Markovich has CRPS-II (also known as causalgia), meaning that Mr. Markovich has confirmed nerve injuries.
Gary Markovich reached maximum medical recovery after years of surgeries and procedures. He underwent nerve grafts, nerve blocks, and all proved unsuccessful. All three of his treating doctors stated he would not be able to return to employment due to the loss of function in his dominant right hand, the CRPS, and the numerous nerve/pain medications that he now must take.
The case was previously handled by the largest personal injury firm in Illinois who told Mr. Markovich that he had no third party case. So Gary contacted Horwitz and the lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court. The lawsuit alleged that ISEC, Inc. violated their own safety procedures by carelessly and negligently failing to properly operate the drill.
Chicago personal injury lawyer, Clifford Horwitz, stated, “The only safety rule that ISEC followed from the ISEC Safety Manual in regards to this construction accident was to never admit responsibility. That was in fact why had to try this case.”
Thankfully, these jurors collectively made the right decision and after seven years, Mr. Markovich and his family were able to receive the justice they deserved. The verdict was confirmed by the Illinois Jury Verdict Reporter to be the largest jury verdict for a non-amputation hand injury in Illinois, exceeding the previous record verdict of $4.2 million.