CHICAGO, ILL—A DuPage, Illinois County court awarded a Chicago-area man $4.16 million for serious injuries he received while providing the city of Elmhurst an estimate on fixing a broken garage door spring.
Court records state that Joshua Jaeger, 29, went to an Elmhurst Public Works garage in November 2009 to examine the repair needed. A city employee lifted Mr. Jaeger, a garage door serviceman, 16 feet into the air with a forklift. When Mr. Jaeger moved from one side of the platform to the other, the platform gave way, sending Mr. Jaeger crashing to the concrete floor below. Mr. Jaeger severely fractured his right femur and suffered a back injury.
Mr. Jaeger’s attorney told the Chicago Tribune that his client’s injury put an end to his career as a garage door serviceman. “He’s got a disability and is restricted,” Mr. Jaeger’s lawyer said. “He can’t lift over 70 pounds and he can’t climb ladders.”
The jury awarded Mr. Jaeger $1.86 million for lost earning capacity, $1.3 million for pain and suffering, and $1 million for loss of a normal life. The Chicago Tribune reported that “Christine Davis of the Illinois Jury Verdict Reporter confirmed the verdict is a state record for a fractured femur and soft tissue back injury and a DuPage County record for a non-medical malpractice personal injury verdict for a single plaintiff.”
Although the City of Elmhurst admitted negligence “that caused regrettable injuries to Mr. Jaeger,” the city’s lawyers denied Mr. Jaeger’s back injury was caused by the fall. They also argued that the plaintiff’s leg healed well and that his loss of earnings would be minimal because he worked for a small family business and might one day take over the company with his brothers. One official told the Chicago Tribune the city might consider appealing the verdict.
“Mr. Jaeger was hurt through no fault of his own, and instead of being a 26-year-old hardworking garage door serviceman with a bright future, he is a 29-year-old high school graduate with chronic pain and disabilities which he will be forced to live with for the rest of his life.” Mr. Jaeger’s lawyer told the Chicago Tribune. “This verdict is not a windfall, it is proper compensation for the amount of economic and non-economic harm the City has caused to Mr. Jaeger’s life.”