Illinois-American settles suit over worker's suffocation death

By Amelia Flood | Jun 6, 2011


A woman's suit over her husband's death due to suffocation in a utility vault is over.

Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge signed an order June 3 approving the settlement reached between Carolyn Estes and the Illinois-American Water Company.

Carolyn Estes sued Illinois-American on behalf of husband, Jerry Estes' estate.
The settlement amount is confidential.

Carolyn Estes filed suit two years ago seeking a judgment of more than $150,000 on wrongful death claims.

The plaintiff alleged that Illinois-American failed to warn her husband that he was entering an environment with little oxygen when he entered one of the company's utility vaults to turn off water valves in 2008.

Jerry Estes suffocated in the vault. Jerry Estes was an employee of the Forest Homes – Maple Park Water District.

Illinois-American sued the Forest Homes – Maple Park Water District in a counterclaim alleging it failed to properly train Jerry Estes.

According to Carolyn Estes' motion for leave to settle the case, she will take 90 percent of the undisclosed settlement amount and will pay her attorneys from it.

The remaining ten percent of the settlement will go to the Estes' adult children.

The plaintiff's attorneys will received about 33 percent of the settlement in fees with litigation costs also paid. Those costs total over $8,000.

Mary Massa represents Carolyn Estes.

Carl Pesce represents the water company

Michael Garavalia represents the water district.

The case is Madison case number 09-L-734.

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