A Cook County judge’s decision was recently upheld in appeals court, enforcing a $25 million dollar settlement between a boatmaker and a paralyzed man. Boatmaker Brunswick arrived at the settlement amount with the paralyzed man just moments after the plaintiff’s attorney learned information about jury deliberations.
Allegedly, the lawyer received information he should not have known from a court clerk, giving the attorney an edge in the settlement discussions shortly before the jury was going to issue a decision in favor of Brunswick.
Paralyzed Man Gets to Keep Settlement Despite Attorney’s Improper Behavior
According to the original lawsuit, the plaintiff fell from the top of a yacht and suffered paralysis from the neck down.
The Illinois First District Appellate Court sided with the plaintiffs in the dispute over the settlement. According to the three-justice panel, their decision was not to support attorney misconduct. Instead, the justices shared that the boatmaker did not have legal grounds to challenge the original settlement.
The allegations are tied to the final day of jury deliberations in the case of the paralyzed man who argued that the boat manufacturer was responsible for life-changing injuries. The trial was set to wrap up in June of 2015 after the suit was originally filed in 2010.
The paralyzed man received a separate settlement from the yacht charter operation in 2012.
Jury Decision Revealed Prior to Settlement
During jury deliberations, the boatmaker came forward with an offer of $25 million to settle before any verdict was revealed. The case was then dismissed before the jury could render a verdict when the plaintiffs accepted the offer. It was later discovered that a court clerk had improperly delayed the contents of a jury note that was sent to the plaintiff’s lawyer. When Brunswick found out about that communication, they raised concerns about the validity of the settlement agreement.
The judge from that case then reached out to the jury to conduct a poll and changed the verdict in favor of the boatmaker. When the case was transferred to another judge in 2016, however, that judge upheld the original settlement agreement. According to the judge who upheld that settlement, the lawyers should have been aware or did know about the contents of the jury’s note and could have used that information to withdraw their settlement offer because the jury was in deliberations. That decision was appealed by Brunswick. Ultimately, the final judge upheld that allowing this to go back to another jury could be problematic because both sides now know how the jury was leaning prior to the settlement offer.
The paralyzed man will keep that settlement due to these most recent developments despite the attorney’s misconduct during the case.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a boating accident or similar personal injury claim, you may have grounds to pursue compensation with the help of an injury attorney. Contact the experienced team at Bradley/Grombacher today for more information.
Note: Bradley/Grombacher is not representing the plaintiff in this lawsuit.