A couple has settled a lawsuit for a Knox County, IL record amount of $4 million. Attorney Dennis VanDerGinst from the law firm of VanDerGinst Law, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Wesley and Virginia England. The lawsuit stemmed from an accident that occurred at People’s Do-It Center in Galesburg, IL. People’s Do-It Center, Inc. and the corporate giant, Georgia-Pacific Corporation, were named as defendants in the suit. The lawsuit alleged that on 10/3/97, Mr. England was injured while examining paneling that had been stored in an upright display rack. In so doing, the entire stack, somewhere between 25 and 45 panels weighing 28 pounds each, cascaded down upon him, pinning him against the opposite aisle way. As a result, Mr. England has remained in a persistent vegetative state ever since.
The lawsuit further alleged that Georgia-Pacific, the manufacturer of the paneling and distributor of the display racks, knew that it was potentially dangerous to store this particular type of paneling in this upright fashion but failed to warn the retailer. Further allegations were that People’s Do-It Center was also aware of the potential hazard, yet failed to remove the hazard, warn of the hazard, or direct employees to assist customers with the paneling.
The defendants denied liability but, nevertheless, ultimately agreed to the settlement. The case was scheduled for trial beginning at the end of February. According to the Illinois Jury Verdict and Settlement Reporter, the settlement is the largest in the history of Knox County, largely out-distancing the second largest reported settlement of $1.275 million.
A statement released by VanDerGinst reveals that a portion of the settlement has been structured to make monthly payments to the Englands for the rest of their lives, insuring that Mr. England’s medical needs will be met without public assistance and that the family will be financially secure without the earnings of Mr. England as the family breadwinner. If both Wesley and Virginia England were to survive to the normal life expectancy, the payout over time would exceed $12 million. Mr. VanDerGinst said, “No amount of money will replace what this family has lost. No mount of money can adequately compensate for what this family has endured. However, this will help make Wesley’s life a bit more comfortable and will make the family financially secure.”