$8.8 MILLION Settlement For Bus Accident Victim

 In General Interest Blog

An $8,800,000.00 settlement was reached in a traumatic brain injury case that occurred on april 21, 2009. The lawyers representing the injured party, Leonardo Elias, are Lawrence Ruder and Louis Cairo of Chicago’s largest injury law firm, GWC. The defendant was represented by Kathleen McDonough, managing partner at Degal, McCambridge’s office and attorney Brian Eldridge.

Managing partner and personal injury lawyer, Louis Cairo, and partner, Lawrence Ruder, resolved the lawsuit against alltown bus company and their insurance carriers, scottsdale, lexington and everest insurance companies. The defendant stipulated to liability and the parties agreed to a $13m – $6m high-low arrangement, which included waiving all rights to appeal a jury verdict. The case was scheduled for jury trial on june 4, 2012.

However, given the impending trial and the parameters of the high-low, the parties agreed to attempt a mediation session in an effort to resolve the matter without proceeding to trial. Cairo and McDonough agreed to set up the mediation before ADR Systems and further agreed to have the honorable joseph casciato preside over the all-day mediation at adr systems’ offices.

The case involved a collision that occurred on April 21, 2009 at the intersection of diversey and Austin in Chicago at 9 a.m. Mr. Elias had just walked his two young children to school and was walking to a Dunkin Donuts at the corner to get a cup of coffee before returning home. as he was walking in the crosswalk, with the green light and walk sign illuminated, the alltown school bus made a left turn across the crosswalk and struck the innocently walking pedestrian with enough force to throw him almost 10′ in the air and slamming him onto the roadway and causing extensive head injuries.

Elias was admitted to Illinois Masonic hospital where he had emergency brain surgery to evacuate a brain bleed. He went into respiratory failure and remained in a coma for ten days after which he was then transferred to a rehabilitation facility.

Ultimately, Elias attended a six-and-a-half month brain rehabilitation program at R.I.C. in Chicago where he underwent extensive speech, occupational and physical therapy. He was discharged by R.I.C. with instructions that he could live independently and unsupervised in familiar environments. The main issue in the case concerned whether Elias, 44 years old at the present, required a caregiver due to his head injuries. There existed support in the record for each party and the experts for each supported their respective positions as well, of course. Plaintiff contended that Elias’ tbi was a disabling injury despite the fact that he appeared to look and function normally. The defense disputed the extent of the disability and the need for any caregiver at all.

Defendant’s expert, richard lazar, md, opined that since elias was only educated in Mexico through 6th grade, and only had work experience as a landscaper, there was no normative data to support his true pre-morbid mental status. accordingly, he opined that the extent of elias’s tbi could not be determined by any medical professional. Plaintiff responded with evidence that Elias held steady employment as a foreman of various landscaping companies, read blueprints, operated multiple types of machinery and was highly respected by his boss and co-workers. plaintiff offered expert opinions from Dr. Phil rushing on economic damages, James Radke on vocational rehabilitation and dr. gary yarkony on Elias’s future needs that related primarily to caregiving needs.

Plaintiff claimed medical bills of around $560k to date with no future medical expenses at all. Past and future lost wages were between $800k to $900k. The caregiver needs were ranged at $3m to $4m, and were the most hotly contested aspect of the litigation.

“this is why i became a lawyer” stated Lawrence Ruder, primary handling attorney. “words cannot describe what it feels like to know that we were able to provide the financial security and just compensation to this wonderful family who have been through so much as a result of this tragedy. the harms and losses that they have suffered are enormous. Now they can start living their lives again and get Leonardo the assistance that we believe will improve his quality of life, and the lives of his wife and two beautiful young children.”of significant interest is the fact that Pam Zekman of cbs news did an¬†expose on “unsafe bus drivers” which aired on april 26th and featured the Elias v. Alltown case.

The footage included a video of the accident itself, which was caught on a red light camera, which would likely have been barred at the trial given alltown’s admission of liability. but it is on gwc’s website, it is on cbs’s website and it has resonated through the community since it was aired. “there can be little doubt that someone on the jury would have ultimately come across the piece and its effect on the jury’s verdict could have been quite devastating to the defendant,” stated cairo.

This is the fourth $8m+ result that gwc partners have secured for their clients in the last 12 months:

  • GWC partners Joseph Sorce and Colin O’Malley secured an $8.376 million verdict for an injured local 21 bricklayer who sustained severe injuries when a walking plank gave way underneath him, causing him to fall thirty feet to the ground below.
  • GWC partners Louis Cairo and Colin O’Malley reached a record breaking $8 million settlement for a tbi injury stemming from a highway collision in Colorado

GWC is also representing the estates of kenneth puplava, an ironworker who was killed in a construction collapse on february 8, 2011, and James Quigley, an ironworker who was killed at a new road construction project on Torrence Avenue and 130th street which occurred last month. both fatalities received extensive news coverage. GWC is the largest personal injury and workers compensation law firm in illinois. The firm’s attorneys handle catastrophic cases throughout the country in all types of cases involving, particularly, transportation industry, construction, nursing home abuse, product liability and mass tort.

Please contact Lawrence Ruder or Louis Cairo for further information related to this case or about GWC.

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