(STMW) — A military veteran will receive $15.2 million in damages for injuries suffered when his foot was crushed by a forklift at a 2012 event at McCormick Place.
On Sept. 18, 2010, Thomas Neuhengen, 33, of Cudahy, Wis., was taking down a booth for Hermle Machine Company at the International Manufacturing Techonolgy Show at the McCormick Place when a 58,000-pound 40/60 Versa Lift forklift struck him and ran over his left foot, according a statement from the Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard law firm.
As a result of the accident, Neuhegen, a staff sergeant in the Wisconsin Army National Guard who served two tours in Iraq, suffered an injury to his foot, which required a number of surgeries, according to the statement.
Cook County Judge Lorna Propes approved the settlement Thursday.
Neuhengen’s lawyers argued the forklift driver, Frederick Neirinckx, failed to keep a clear view of the path of travel, failed to maintain a proper lookout, and failed to use a spotter, according to the statement.
The lawyers also argued that Global Experience Specialists, the Nevada company that set up the show and hired the lift driver, did not have a policy in place to make sure forklift drivers were trained and evaluated before the start of an event.
Global Experience Specialists was cited with four safety violations by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration for the incident.
“As a result of a corporation ignoring safety rules, Tom’s life will never be the same,” attorney Patrick Salvi II said in a statement. “The jury’s verdict demonstrates the substantial impact and ongoing challenges this incident has had on Tom. We hope this verdict serves as a reminder to companies to ensure employees receive proper training and resources.”
A spokesperson for Global Experience Specialists sent CBS 2 a statement in response to the award:
“We are disappointed by the jury’s decision. The incident involving Mr. Neuhengen was very unfortunate. The safety of everyone on the show floor is of highest importance to GES, the venue, the unions and our clients. GES has had comprehensive training and safety policies in place long before the 2012 incident, and is constantly evaluating and further developing those policies. GES employees work 6.8 million hours a year at shows and must coordinate with numerous other companies on the show floor. Nonetheless, we are a safety leader in our industry because we believe that we can always improve. We are dedicated to remaining a leader in safe work practices for our unique industry. We diligently adhere to federal and state safety requirements and are committed to protecting our employees and GES’ solid safety reputation.”
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2015. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)