A St. Clair County jury awarded a construction worker $6 million in a personal injury suit alleging he was injured while riding in the back of a work truck.
The trial began on Sept. 12 in Circuit Judge Vincent Lopinot’s court.
Jurors awarded the multimillion verdict to plaintiff Edward Kimme.
Kimme was represented by Gregory Shevlin of Belleville at trial, who said he was pleased with the jury’s verdict.
Defendants Highway Technologies and Danny Shannon were represented by Sanchez Daniels and Hoffman in Chicago.
Kimme filed his claims with plaintiff Dennis Knutt in a joint 2011 lawsuit against Shannon and his employer, Highway Technologies Inc. The two cases were litigated together until trial, when they were tried separately because the damages were so different.
Shevlin said the jury instructions would be too complicated if the plaintiffs’ claims were tried together. He explained that the age of the plaintiffs, the severity of the injuries and the wage losses were different.
“Ed was hurt and could no longer be in labor. You’ve got a 43-year-old guy with a cane,” he said of Kimme's injuries.
Kimme and Knutt claim Shannon was operating a construction truck and was rear-ended when he pulled in front of another vehicle while driving on I-255 near the junction with I-64.
The plaintiffs had sought more than $200,000.
They claim they were not provided any safety equipment to protect them while riding in the back of the truck.
In their affirmative defenses, the defendants argued that the plaintiffs were negligent for having stood up in the flat bed area of the pick-up truck while it was being driven.
The trial for Knutt’s case began on Aug. 29. The case settled the morning of closing arguments on Sept. 1.
Shevlin said the undisclosed settlement was “significant,” but it wasn’t as significant as the jury verdict in Kimme’s case.
Jurors had apportioned 65 percent responsibility to Highway Technologies and Shannon. They apportioned the remaining 35 percent liability to third party defendants Stamm Transport and Jason Berry.
Shevlin said he was surprised the defendants didn’t make a settlement offer in the Kimme case after making one in the Knutt case.
“Since they settled [the Knutt case], I sort of expected to get an offer,” he said.
Shevlin added that Kimme has done everything he could to try to get better and return to work, but the defendants still refused to make an offer.
“They weren’t coming to the table and taking responsibility for these injuries,” Shevlin added.
He explained that Shannon already admitted fault at the scene, so the trial was “just a matter of what the damages were.”
“It just doesn’t make any sense to me,” he said. “But that’s why we have juries.”
St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 11-L-30