Jury Awards Verdict To Local 134 IBEW Electrician After Crane Accident ( $9.987 Million)

A Cook County jury awarded a verdict of $9,987,000.00 to a union IBEW local 134 Electrician who suffered several injuries after a crane struck him while working at a steel plant.

The Case

The electrician’s company was contracted to do maintenance on the light fixtures at the steel plant. While removing the chains to light fixtures at the steel plant, the electrician’s aerial lift was struck by a crane; the steel plant’s employee was in operation of the crane. Upon impact, the aerial lift began to tip, and then violently catapulted back to its upright position. The electrician suffered severe injuries including a rotator cuff tear, a labrum tear, a gluteus maximus tear, and aggravation of spondylolisthesis.

In-Depth Look

CHICAGO, IL – On September 14, 2017, 12 jurors unanimously agreed to award a $9,987,000.00 verdict to a 55-year-old Local 134 IBEW Union Electrician. Clifford W. Horwitz and Michael D. Carter, Jr., partners at Horwitz Horwitz & Associates, tried the case on behalf of the journeyman electrician who was injured when a Corey Steel company employee crashed an overhead crane into the electrician’s aerial lift. Corey Steel’s insurer, Liberty Mutual, spent four years arguing that the accident was the electrician’s fault and contested his medical treatment.

In 2013, the electrician’s company was contracted to maintain the light fixtures at Corey Steel. On July 16, 2013, the electrician was cleaning and re-lamping light fixtures at the plant. Due to the height of the ceiling, this process required the electrician to use an aerial lift.

While performing his work, a Corey Steel overhead crane ran into the lift that the electrician was operating. The union electrician suffered a rotator cuff tear, a labrum tear, a gluteus maximus tear, and aggravation of spondylolisthesis – a condition where one vertebral bone in the spinal column slides forward over the vertebra bone below it.

“We alleged that the Corey Steel operator had been improperly trained and wasn’t looking where he was taking the load of steel,” stated Clifford Horwitz. He continued, “[The electrician] already underwent two surgeries, and still needs three more—a back fusion, a rotator cuff repair, and a potential hip replacement.”

The injuries were severe enough that the journeyman electrician was forced to quit his job. Horwitz commented, “[The electrician’s] injuries have limited his work capacity to light duty, but there’s no light-duty electrician’s work – so [the electrician] is currently looking for other employment.”

The steel company admitted liability for the accident just before the trial started, but continued to contest the electrician’s medical treatment and lost wages.

“Despite causing all this hardship – forcing [the electrician] to suffer serious injuries and taking away a career that [the electrician] loved – the insurer was only willing to offer $500,000.00,” stated Horwitz.

At trial, the insurer contended that the electrician’s injury resulted from a pre-existing arthritic condition. Horwitz and Carter attacked the insurance company’s arguments.  “[The electrician] had injured the same three areas before, but [the electrician] never had to miss work because of the earlier injuries,” commented Horwitz.

The jury ultimately agreed with Horwitz and Carter’s arguments, resulting in a $9,987,000.00 verdict for the journeyman electrician. “Though very grateful for the jury verdict, [the electrician] knows there is a long process ahead with potential appeals and that the steel company and their insurance have never negotiated in good faith in the case,” said Horwitz.

Our Attorneys Stand Up For Workers

The Illinois Jury Verdict Reporter is honoring Clifford W. Horwitz in October of this year – awarding him with the Plaintiff’s Achievement Award. This coveted award has only been awarded to 15 attorneys since the Jury Verdict Reporter was established over 55 years ago. To be considered an attorney must first win at least five jury verdicts in excess of $5,000,000.00. Since 2012, Cliff’s trial team at Horwitz Horwitz & Associates has secured record verdicts at an astounding rate – every two out of three cases that Cliff has tried resulted in record-setting jury verdicts. In addition to securing what was the largest personal injury verdict in Illinois history, Cliff and his team have secured a number of record-setting jury verdicts since 2012, including the largest jury verdict in Illinois history for a construction worker, a quadriplegic, a brain injury, a neck injury, a hand injury, a complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) injury, and a shoulder injury.

If you have been injured in a work accident, contact our dedicated Chicago personal injury lawyers at Horwitz Horwitz & Associates today for a free consultation.