Jury Awards Trucker For Career-ending Knee Injury ($2 Million)
In a case tried by Clifford Horwitz and Jay Luchsinger, a Cook County jury has awarded $2,031,513 to a 48-year-old Local 705 Teamster truck driver for a knee injury which ended his career as a trucker. Before the trial, the defendant, Albertson’s, offered the Teamster $250,000 to settle the case.
The injury occurred when a forklift operator clipped a stack of pallets, one of them striking the Teamster’s right knee. The trucker worked the rest of the day and went to the hospital the following morning.
After three a half years of litigation, Albertson’s finally admitted liability one week before the trial date, but it claimed the injuries were not serious. It argued that the forklift only clipped a pallet and that the pallet merely bruised the trucker’s knee. It also argued that the trucker’s knee problems were pre-existing, claiming he had chondromalacia in the injured knee. Lastly, the company claimed that if the trucker had wanted, he could have returned to his truck-driving occupation. It argued that after the accident, the injured trucker went into business for himself and intentionally incurred tax losses to increase his monetary damages.
Albertson retained a well-known orthopedic surgeon as an expert witness who opined that the chondromalacia to the back of the kneecap pre-existed the accident. He stated that he could improve the trucker’s condition through extensive physical therapy.
Horwitz and Luchsinger rebutted these arguments by demonstrating, through a three-hour cross-examination, that the condition was not pre-existing and the injury was directly caused by the accident. They demonstrated that the injury led to a vicious cycle of knee problems and thigh weakness that were incurable.
The defense counsel claimed that because the trucker had established his own business and built annual revenues from $6,000 to $400,000 in just a few years, he had not suffered serious economic damage. The trucker testified that, despite the increase in gross revenues, the business was losing money.
Horwitz and Luchsinger called a physical therapist and two orthopedic surgeons to illustrate the severity of the damage to the trucker’s knee. They also introduced substantial evidence to emphasize the dedicated attitude of the Local 705 Teamster who had worked all of his life as a trucker. They demonstrated to the jury that, even though the trucker has to endure the career-ending injury and struggle to make a living, he continues to work hard.