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Parking Lot Accident at 7-Eleven Causes Man to Lose Both His Legs

When the franchise store giant 7-Eleven opened its storefront in Bensenville, Illinois, it included parking spaces directly facing the front of the building. Perhaps for convenience or heedlessness, the retail company did not install any barriers between the parking spaces and the building façade. However, that unobstructed path from the parking lot to the front of the store led to tragedy for one of 7-Eleven’s customers. Carlos, an employee at a Chicago-area food processing plant, was casually leaning against the building, waiting for a ride. A sedan attempting to park mistakenly pressed the gas pedal instead of the brake and jumped the curb. The car crashed directly into Carlos, pinning him against the wall and crushing both of his legs beyond repair.

First responders rushed Carlos to a nearby hospital by ambulance. His injuries were so severe that surgeons needed to amputate both of his legs.

Carlos sought an attorney to help secure fair compensation for his injuries. His initial counsel was aware of another firm’s success in a similar case. Thus, they contacted Joe Power, Jr. and James Power of Power Rogers, LLP. A team specializing in personal injury, Joe and James got to work on the case. The driver who hit Carlos was uninsured. However, the attorneys understood that the accident could have been prevented entirely had 7-Eleven constructed their parking lots and storefronts to be safer for pedestrians. They knew the key was to prove that 7-Eleven was, in fact, aware of the hazards outside its stores but did nothing about it.

The attorneys requested a record of accidents in 7-Eleven parking lots for the previous 15 years. The franchise ignored the request, even though Joe and James had a court order for the information. The company dragged its feet for over a year before producing the data. Shockingly, the records revealed that, on average, a storefront crash occurred at a 7-Eleven location more than 1.3 times per day! Despite this evidence, the Defense delivered many challenges.

During pretrial motions, the Defense claimed Carlos was a trespasser on 7-Eleven grounds, arguing that they weren’t aware he was even on the property. Additionally, they attempted to place fault exclusively on the uninsured driver who struck Carlos.

The Powers were persistent, proving that Carlos was a frequent customer and had a legal right to be at the store that morning. The attorneys then enlisted the help of Robert Reiter, co-founder of the Storefront Safety Council, who had testified against 7-Eleven and other retailers many times. Next, they sought expertise from Warren Vander Helm, a parking lot design specialist. Finally, Joe and James hired DK Global for a visual demonstrative to prove the convenience store’s liability. The legal team felt that an animation would best present what occurred. In addition, they wanted to show how the tragedy could have been avoided if 7-Eleven had installed bollards in the parking lot.

The animation opened with a satellite perspective, showing the lot from the sky. It then zoomed in on the Bensenville 7-Eleven and included footage from the store’s surveillance of the car driving into the lot and hitting the building. The Plaintiff was not yet visible in the video. The animation picked up in the parking area, with Carlos leaning against the convenience store, waiting for his ride. Then, a black sedan pulled in, bounced over the curb, and hammered Carlos into the wall. After rendering the accident, the presentation turned to a “What If” scenario that displayed what would have happened if 7-Eleven had equipped its facility with bollards. This depiction showed the car driving in, accidentally accelerating toward Carlos, then bouncing off the bollards, coming nowhere near Carlos.

The Defense initially offered $15,000,000 to settle the case, which The Powers declined. Then, the attorneys put the animation into play. After seeing the visuals, Joe and James successfully got the Defense to settle for a landmark sum – $91,000,000 – which broke the pretrial record for a personal injury case in Illinois.

Joseph A Power, Jr. is a founding partner of the Chicago-based firm Power Rogers, LLP. He specializes in personal injury, catastrophic injury, product liability, medical malpractice, and defamation cases. Joseph has obtained the largest jury verdict in Illinois for a medical malpractice case, $55.4M, and has recovered over $1 billion for his clients. He has received many honors, including the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and Top Verdict Top 10 Med Mal settlements in the United States in 2018. Additionally, Joseph was the 2019 Number 1 Leading Lawyer among the Top 10 attorneys in the following areas: All Areas of Practice, Litigators, Consumer, PI Plaintiff’s, Med Mal Plaintiff’s, and Product Liability Plaintiff’s.

James Power joined the firm at Power Rogers, LLP in 2016. He primarily focuses on personal injury and wrongful death. James has successfully secured and collaborated in securing over $400 million on behalf of the firm’s clients. He is an active member of many professional organizations, including the Chicago Bar Association, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, American Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, and the American Association for Justice. James is also admitted to practice law in the State of Illinois and the United States District Court for the State of Illinois.

"The ability to be able to show that to the jury, as best we can — actually what occurred — is invaluable."
James Power - Power Rogers, LLP
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