SW Legal studies in Business

$9 Million in Damages for Death of Construction Worker Not Excessive
Description

Appeals court held that despite conflicting testimony about how a worker died at a construction site, the jury could hold one party completely responsible. An award of $9 million for the death of the 61 year old worker is not excessive.

Topic Torts
Key Words

Wrongful Death; Negligence; Survivor; Damages

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Francesco Colella was working at a construction site when he was killed in an accident. A dump truck owned by JMS backed over him. No one saw the accident, so how it happened was not clear. The driver claimed that Colella must have been in an improper location and so was negligent. Colella’s survivor, his wife, sued for negligence and damages. The court found the driver and JMS to be at fault and awarded $1 million for Colella’s pain and suffering and $8 million for the loss suffered by the survivor. The truck driver and his employer, JMS, appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. The jury, hearing all the evidence, could find that the driver and JMS were 100 percent responsible for the accident despite some evidence that pointed to Colella’s possible negligence. The award of $1 million damages for pain and suffering for Colella was not excessive. Testimony was that he lived for 3-4 minutes after being run over. The $8 million for his survivor was not so excessive as to require a reduction or new trial. Colella was 61 years old and had a life expectancy of 21.5 years and his wife and other family members relied on him for support.

Citation Colella v. JMS Trucking Co., ---N.E.2d--- (2010 WL 2977602, Ct. App., Ill., 2010)

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