G. S., 37, slipped and fell making a delivery of Coca Cola products to a local grocery store. He fell on his left shoulder, sustaining an impingement type injury. This is where the space between the shoulder muscles and bones is narrowed because of inflammation and results in pain and weakness of the arm and shoulder.
G.S. had parked his truck in an alley about 100 feet from the back entrance of the grocery story, which opened onto an unpaved alley. Immediately outside the back door was a cement block, 4' x 10', 3 inches higher than the ground. Deliverymen had to haul their loads from the unfinished pavement onto the cement block, to gain access to the back door. A corrugated roof overhung the block, which had no gutters or downspout. When it rained, or when snow melted, water was channeled directly onto the the cement block.
G. S. unloaded a stack of beverages onto his 2 wheeler, and pulled it backwards over the snow covered ground until getting to the cement block. He then stepped on a piece of cardboard some unknown person placed over ice that had formed on the block. As he attempted to pull his 2 wheeler onto the block, the cardboard flipped out from under his feet, causing G.S. to fall.
After filing suit, we hired an engineering firm to inspect the property where G.S. had fallen. They found holes in the overhang of the roof above the back entrance, and numerous additional code violations. A store employee testified at deposition that both he and the store owner were aware that whenever it rained, or there was melting snow, water would fall through the overhang onto the cement block. There was discussion of fixing the roof but the owner hadn't gotten around to it.
G.S. did not respond to non-surgical treatment (ie. therapy, medication, injections) and eventually had shoulder surgery about 5 months after his fall. In all it was a year before he returned to his regular job.
Before filing suit, we contacted the insurance company for the grocery store to see if settlement could be achieved. They offered $15,000, which G.S. and Lipkin & Apter rejected. Two years later, after receiving our engineering expert's report and after the employee deposition, defendant urged us to accept mediation with a retired Cook County Circuit Court judge. We did so. The case settled for $290,000.