December 7, 2016
By Stephanie West
Chicago, IL – On November 3, 2016, 12 jurors unanimously agreed to award Anthony Fonte, a 61-year-old Local 1 Union Iron Worker, a record-setting $8,000,000.00 jury verdict.This is the highest reported verdict in Illinois history for an adult male shoulder injury. The previous record was $3.8 million and that verdict was awarded in 2006.
On May 2, 2012, Fonte was working in a safety skiff (jon boat) fastened to a McHugh Construction Company work-flat barge by the Adam’s Street Bridge on the Chicago River. Fonte had been tasked with manning the john boat in the event one of his fellow iron workers fell into the river – he was to respond immediately and save his men.
While watching his fellow ironworkers, a barge operated by the American River Transportation Co. (ARTCO) allided with the safety skiff. An allision is a nautical term for the running of one ship upon another ship that is stationary, distinguishable from a collision.
“Fonte managed to barely escape the impact, but in doing so he severely injured his shoulder,” stated Clifford W. Horwitz, a principal partner and lead trial attorney at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates, who represented Fonte. Horwitz continued, “While exiting the safety skiff his hand was caught in a chain, which wrenched his shoulder causing a major rotator cuff tear.”
Fonte suffered a subscapularis tear, bicep tendon tear, bursal surface fraying of the supraspinatus, and a posterior labral tear. After undergoing three major surgeries, Fonte was deemed permanently disabled with a five-pound lifting restriction to his arm.