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02/23/89 James Blevins, v. Teel Company

February 23, 1989

JAMES BLEVINS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT AND CROSS-APPELLEE

v.

INLAND STEEL COMPANY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE AND CROSS-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FOURTH DIVISION

535 N.E.2d 972, 180 Ill. App. 3d 286, 129 Ill. Dec. 207 1989.IL.231

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Thomas J. Janczy, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE LINN delivered the opinion of the court. JIGANTI, P.J., and JOHNSON, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE LINN

Plaintiff, James Blevins, brought an action for damages against Inland Steel Company for injuries he sustained on Inland Steel's property when he stepped into a large pothole. After trial, the jury returned a verdict in his favor for $15,555, specifically finding that Blevins was not negligent with respect to his injury. He appeals on the ground that the jury's verdict was manifestly inadequate in that it was for a lesser sum than that established by his medical expenses and lost wages. Inland Steel cross-appeals, arguing that its motion for directed verdict should have been granted because Blevins failed to present a prima facie case of liability.

We reverse in part and remand for a new trial on damages.

Background

On November 15, 1980, Blevins was working the 4 p.m. to midnight shift at the Harbor Works Plant in East Chicago, Indiana. The plant is owned, operated, and maintained by Inland Steel. Blevins was an ironworker employed by Furnco Construction Company, which was hired as an independent contractor to perform repairs at the plant. Inland Steel had designated a parking lot to be used by the Furnco employees, and it was in this designated lot that Blevins was injured. Blevins knew that the parking lot contained many potholes because he had navigated them during the several days that he had been working on the job.

A company bus transported the employees from the parking lot to the jobsite and returned them to the lot after their shifts. On the night of November 15, 1980, Blevins boarded the bus at the jobsite, at approximately midnight, and was returned to the parking lot. When the bus stopped, Blevins went down the steps and stepped off the bus into a hole that was at least three feet wide and six inches deep. It was wider than the bus door.

When he stepped into the hole with his left foot, he twisted his knee and heard something pop. He felt pain but went home. His knee swelled during the night, and he went to an emergency room, where he was X-rayed and given a brace to wear. The following morning he attempted to

On November 19, 1980, Blevins underwent surgery. The knee joint was opened up and repairs were made to his ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and the medial collateral ligament. For seven weeks thereafter Blevins wore a long leg cast, which was then converted to a knee-hinge cast. After 9 or 10 weeks with the hinged cast, Blevins received a knee brace with a hinge to replace the cast.

Approximately two months after his injury, Blevins could not straighten or bend his knee. He took 36 physical therapy treatments over a 2 1/2-month period, after which he continued therapy at home for a year and one half.

According to the surgeon's trial testimony, Blevins sustained permanent damage, a residual instability and traumatic degenerative joint disease. Blevins was taking pain medication and continued to wear a brace for one year after the occurrence. He also ...


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