Meyers, Flowers, Bruno, McPhedran & Herrmann Trial Attorneys Craig D. Brown, James McPhedran, Patrick J. Herrmann, and Christopher J. Warmbold recently secured a $4.91 million settlement for their client’s claims against a Central Illinois municipality for catastrophic injuries sustained in a sledding accident.
For decades, the sledding hill located in the municipality was the preferred sledding destination for families around the area looking for an enjoyable outdoor activity to share together. While the Midwest is not known for its elevation, the unusual height and length of the sledding hill in this municipality made it an anomaly that attracted visitors from all around the surrounding area. In the lead up to the winter season, the municipality routinely removed a section of fencing at the base of the hill to allow an opening for sledders who historically arrived not long after a fresh snowfall hit the area.
In the early afternoon of January 16, 2021, the firm’s client arrived at the sledding hill with his wife and young children to experience what they anticipated to be a fun-filled day of sledding at the hill they had heard much about from friends and through word of mouth. Soon after arriving, the client was requested to sled down the hill once with his daughter, which he agreed to do. As the client descended the hill with his daughter, their sled began to shift closer to the left side of the hill, altering their intended trajectory. When they reached the base of the hill, the client unsuccessfully attempted to steer and stop the sled with his hands and immediately realized the two were heading straight toward the outermost fence post at the base of the hill. Unable to stop and with little to no time to react, the client pushed his daughter off their sled just before his body violently collided into the unbarricaded metal fence post. The force of the impact left the client, an active father and husband, permanently paralyzed from the waist down.
In desperate need of help, the client and his family sought out the trial attorneys at Meyers, Flowers, Bruno, McPhedran & Herrmann in LaSalle County to level the playing field against the grossly negligent municipality.
Discovery in this case, spearheaded by James McPhedran, led to the revelation of several facts demonstrating the municipality’s alleged utter indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of others. The most important of which was the discovery of a prior accident years earlier involving a sledder who collided into one of the metal fence posts at the base of the hill, which placed the municipality on notice that the metal fence posts posed a danger to users of the hill. It was also discovered that after this earlier accident, the municipality placed hay bales to barricade the outermost fence posts at the base of the hill then inexplicably abandoned this practice after a few years. The trial team also uncovered documents revealing the municipality chose not to follow a recommendation made by a risk management specialist to line the sledding hill with a V-shaped pattern of hay bales after the earlier accident. “Had the municipality followed this simple directive, the life-altering injuries our client experienced could have been avoided,” said Christopher Warmbold.
Through an unwavering commitment to right the wrongs that caused their client’s injuries, Craig Brown, James McPhedran, Patrick Herrmann, and Christopher Warmbold built a strong enough case to convince the municipality that any attempted defense pursuant to the Tort Immunity Act would be futile. In light of the formidable challenge they would face if the case proceeded to trial, the municipality agreed to do the right thing and promptly tendered the full insurance limits available on its policy to resolve the case. “Although this settlement cannot undo the tragedy that our client has suffered, it has brought some closure to a deserving family that was in need of justice,” said Craig Brown.
This outcome is a testament to the value an experienced and committed team of trial lawyers bring to a case. Craig D. Brown, James McPhedran, Patrick J. Herrmann, and Christopher J. Warmbold, and the entire team of trial lawyers at Meyers, Flowers, Bruno, McPhedran & Herrmann have earned a reputation for recovering substantial personal injury settlements and verdicts through their relentless pursuit of justice for people who have been harmed by the negligence of individuals, medical providers, corporations, and municipalities.
If you or a loved one has experienced a personal injury matter and is in need of a committed team of advocates, we want to hear from you. Call our St. Charles office at 630-576-9696 or our Peru office at (815) 223-0230 for your free, no obligation case evaluation or click here.