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Powers v. Illinois Central Gulf R.r. Co.

OPINION FILED JUNE 18, 1982.

STEVEN LYNN POWERS, APPELLEE,

v.

ILLINOIS CENTRAL GULF RAILROAD COMPANY, APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fifth District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, the Hon. Alvin H. Maeys, Jr., Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE WARD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This appeal is from an action brought by Steven Lynn Powers in the circuit court of St. Clair County under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (45 U.S.C. § 51 et seq. (1970)). The plaintiff complained of back injuries sustained while employed by the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad Company in Paducah, Kentucky. A jury which had been given an itemized verdict form returned a verdict for the plaintiff that totaled $300,000. The court's instructions to the jury on damages had listed four elements of damage for the injuries, and the verdict form given to the jury was itemized as to those elements. The appellate court, with one justice dissenting, found no error in the instruction or the itemization of damage on the verdict form, and it affirmed the judgment that had been entered on the verdict. (92 Ill. App.3d 1033.) We granted the defendant leave to appeal (73 Ill.2d R. 315).

The defendant contends that the court erred in giving the following instruction to the jury over its objection:

"If you decide for the plaintiff on the question of liability, you must then fix the amount of money which will reasonably and fairly compensate him for any of the following elements of damage proved by the evidence to have resulted, in whole or in part, from the negligence of the defendant:

The nature, extent and duration of the injury.

The disability resulting from the injury.

The pain and suffering experienced and reasonably certain to be experienced in the future as a result of the injuries.

The value of earnings lost and the present cash value of earnings reasonably certain to be lost in the future.

Whether any of these elements of damages has been proved by the evidence is for you to determine."

Excepting the phrase "in whole or in part," which is not involved on this appeal, the first and last paragraphs of the instruction are the basic Illinois pattern measure of damages instruction for personal injury. (Illinois Pattern Jury Instruction, Civil, No. 30.01 (2d ed. 1971) (hereinafter cited as IPI Civil).) The other four paragraphs set out separate elements of damage claimed here by the plaintiff and which appear in the pattern instructions. IPI Civil Nos. 30.02, 30.04, 30.05, 30.07.

The defendant also says there was error in the following verdict form that was given to the jury over its objection:

"We, the Jury, find for the plaintiff and against the defendant. We assess the damages as follows:

Nature, extent and duration of the injury $ _________

Disability resulting from the injury $ _________

Pain and suffering experienced and reasonably certain to be experienced in the future as a result of the injury $ _________

The value of earnings lost and the present cash value of earnings reasonably certain to be lost in the future. ...


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