$2,000,000 Record Setting Settlement Reached In Winnebago County Slip And Fall Case

May 21, 2018

A record setting settlement for an ankle injury in Winnebago County has been reached in a lawsuit arising from a slip and fall that took place at the Chrysler Belvidere Assembly Plant on March 25, 2014. On that day, a fire utility officer employed by a third party contractor and stationed at the main security gate of the Chrysler Plant, suffered a severe ankle fracture when he slipped and fell while crossing the parking lot to put out a reported fire due to runoff from an improperly placed and maintained pile of snow which had refrozen into a dangerous patch of black ice.

The injured worker sued Chrysler and Snow Systems in 2014, alleging that they had failed to develop a proper plan for removing and relocating snow onto safe parts of the property, instead assembling a pile of snow 15 feet tall adjacent to an employee entrance and where they should have foreseen it would melt and refreeze as spring approached.

The plaintiff was represented by Matthew S. Sims and Joshua L. Weisberg of Rapoport Law Offices, P.C. in Chicago. According to Mr. Sims, the defendants blamed each other for the creation of the dangerous condition and neither was willing to fix the issue until after the worker had already been severely injured. While each defendants' respective experts agreed the ice was a dangerous condition that resulted from an unnatural accumulation that had been the result of negligence, the defendants ultimately blamed each other for the creation of the condition.

According to Mr. Sims: "Unfortunately for the injured worker, this was an injury that could have been prevented had the defendants simply used common sense. Instead, they were both presented with a condition they knew would become dangerous, but instead of taking the proper steps to keep the ice patch from forming, ignored the problem and hoped it would just go away."

Mr. Weisberg added, "Emails showed that Chrysler and Snow Systems were aware of the potential hazard in this case, yet they chose not to act and instead put others on their property at risk. We hope that Chrysler and Snow Systems have learned to act more responsibly in the future to protect others on their worksites from an impending hazard before a serious injury occurs. While our client has suffered greatly due to the defendants' negligence, we are glad that Chrysler and Snow Systems are ultimately being held accountable and that we were able to obtain a just result for our client."

After the accident, the injured worker was treated by an orthopedic physician in Rockford before ultimately transferring his care to a specialized team in Chicago. He is hopeful he will return to work, albeit in a different capacity than as fire utility officer, which was the position he held at the time of the accident. According to the Law Bulletin Publishing Company, the settlement is the highest reported settlement involving an ankle injury in Winnebago County. The settlement also includes a full waiver of the substantial workers' compensation lien.

The case was featured on the front page of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, which confirmed the case was record setting in Winnebago County. Click here to read the full version of the Law Bulletin article.