Amy Skinger brought a personal injury case against Wells Fargo after being struck in the head by a metal door closer at a local office located west of Chicago. A jury awarded her a $4.5 million judgment, the largest non-medical malpractice award in DuPage County history. Skinger entered the retail mortgage office through the primary entryway, when suddenly the metal door closer assembly became detached and hit her in the head. This incident demonstrated a failure to maintain property conditions. The accident caused her to re-aggravate her spondylosis, which led to a need for a cervical fusion in her neck and installation of a spinal cord pain pump.
The severity of Skinger's medical condition should not be underestimated. Cervical spondylosis describes bones, joints, and discs in the neck that have degenerated, which usually is quite painful. It is closely related to osteoarthritis of the neck that can be treated with pain medication, exercises, and physical therapy. In more severe cases (such as this) surgical treatment is an option. An intrathecal pain pump implant (spinal cord pump) is used to treat chronic pain. Medicine flows through a small tube into the spinal cord that is controlled by an external electronic device.
The trial lasted for a period of two weeks; however, the jury took only two hours to reach their verdict. A spokesman for Wells Fargo stated that they were disappointed with the jury's finding and that they were considering their current options. The jury allocated 80% of the fault to Wells Fargo, whose lease agreement explained that they were responsible for the maintenance of the door. The remaining 20% of the responsibility rested with Cannella NY Square, LLC, who owns the property that was leased.
In addition to the recovery for the costs of medical care, the jury awarded $1.25 million for the plaintiff's disability, another $1.25 million for pain & suffering, with an additional $1 million for mental distress. During the trial, the defense did offer a $125,000 settlement, which was refused. An attorney for the plaintiff said that they felt justice was served and that Skinger will be able to get adequate medical treatment.
Illinois Personal Injury Summary
The state allows for the following damages when calculating an award:
- Past and future medical costs
- Disabilities and losses of a normal life
- Pain and suffering
- Lost past and future earnings
- Worsening of an existing medical condition
The state uses a modified system of comparative fault which is similar to a system of contributory negligence. Plaintiffs are eligible for recovery as long as their percentage of fault in the matter is under 50%. The percentage of fault that is attributed to the plaintiff is reduced from any award for damages. The statute of limitation in actions of personal injury is two years. The state's Supreme Court ruled that capping (limiting) the amount of recoverable noneconomic damages was unconstitutional.