A Cook County jury awarded $1,985,000.00 to a man who suffered a low back injury as a result of a work injury. The gross award was reduced by 20% to account for the jury’s finding of plaintiff’s contributory negligence.
On September 29, 2004, Teodoro Ramirez, 39, suffered the injury that rendered him unable to work as a roofer.
Ramirez sued the general contractor, FCL Builders. Plaintiff alleged he injured his lower back while pushing a 2,700 pound roll of roofing material known as a rubber membrane. Plaintiff further claimed the defendant, FCL Builders, Inc., the general contractor on the job told the roofing crew not to use Honda ATVs, a mechanical means of pushing the heavy, bulky rolls to various locations along the large (450,000 square feet) roof. The construction documents (meeting minutes, progress photos, change orders, etc.) showed the metal deck was being damaged due to weight of the rubber membranes being moved by the ATVs which weigh approximately 700 pounds.
Before trial, Ramirez’s lawyers rejected the defendant’s settlement offer of $50,000.00.
The defendant disputed liability. The trial lasted 1 1/2 weeks as both sides presented experts concerning the liability of FCL Builders. The jury apportioned liability 20% to the plaintiff, 40% to FCL Builders and 40% to Sullivan Roofing, Inc., a non-party who was plaintiff’s employer. Under principles of joint and several liability, FCL Builders is responsible for the entire judgment amount.
To reach $1,985,000, jurors awarded $285,000 for past medical expenses; $20,000 for disfigurement; $190,000 for loss of normal life; $190,000 for pain and suffering; and $1.3 million for past and future lost earnings.
Teodoro Ramirez was represented by Robert J. Napleton and John C. Coyne.
Circuit Judge Susan Zwick presided over the one and a half week trial.
The case is Teodoro Ramirez v. FCL Builders, Inc., No. 08 L 6482.