Madison County jurors returned a verdict of $725,000 in compensation for injuries suffered by Trevor Brady in 2010 at a Plocher Construction Co. work site and $185,000 for his parents, Brian Brady and Dannette Dorsey of Edwardsville.
Plaintiff’s attorney Richard Witzel had sought $3.3 million for Trevor who sustained a facial laceration and mouth and teeth injuries after striking iron construction beams while riding his bike to Lincoln Middle School nearly four years ago.
Closing arguments were held Thursday afternoon in Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder’s court in a damages-only trial against defendant Plocher Construction Co.
The trial began Monday. Jurors reached their decision at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Plocher had admitted negligence for allowing two 20-foot angle iron beams to protrude onto a sidewalk without barricades at a construction site at 411 St. Louis Street in Edwardsville. Plocher was three months into the construction of the law firm Byron Carlson Petri & Kalb when the incident occurred March 5, 2010.
Witzel asked jurors to compensate Trevor, who sat at the plaintiff’s table throughout trial, for disfigurement, loss of normal life, pain and suffering and emotional distress.
“Money is not going to unscar his cheek,” Witzel said. “Money is not going to level the plane of his jaw and teeth. Money is not going to change his face and the emotional dealings that Trevor is going to deal with in the future.”
But, he said, that money was the only way society can provide justice for Trevor.
According to testimony, Trevor’s cheek was torn off after he came into contact with the beams that had been loaded onto a backhoe scoop and which were protruding about two feet into the sidewalk. Among other things, Trevor lost some sensation on the right side of his face and had problems with eating and speech. He has had plastic and oral surgery and has had more than 60 visits to treating physicians.
“There’s been bad press about phony lawsuits,” Witzel said.”This is not one of them.”
Witzel also asked the jury to award Trevor’s parents $150,000 for the more than 60 trips to hospitals, doctors and therapists, a figure which included $103,685.65 for actual medical expenses.
“Their life changed,” he said.
Trevor’s parents also sat in the audience throughout the four-day trial and each testified.
Plocher attorney David Simkins of St. Louis suggested jurors award approximately $250,000 to the family, a figure that would include the actual medical expenses.
He said Plocher took responsibility for the accident on the same day it happened.
He told jurors that the reason he showed pictures of Trevor in various settings - riding a motorcycle and with friends, smiling - was to demonstrate that he is “leading a normal life.”
“Trevor is leading a great life,” he said. “He’s doing fantastic in school. He’s going (to go) to college. He wants to be an engineer.”
Simkins took a shot at the plaintiff's “legal team" saying that it "wants to make $3 million off this case.”
He said that Trevor has “come a long way” and has gotten “better and better.”
“He’s got a good group of friends. He’s dating. He goes to dances.”
On re-direct, Witzel took issue with Plocher’s claim of taking responsibility.
“Plocher’s report- it was an internal report," Witzel said. "It was one step short of being meaningful.”
Witzel said Plocher didn’t provide the report to Trevor or his family. He said it was obtained only through discovery.
He said the damages sought for Trevor and his family were “not a prize” and this wasn’t a “game.”
“It’s to give what can’t be given back to Trevor,” he said.