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Donnellan v. First Student, Inc.

Appellate Court of Illinois
891 N.E.2d 463 (2008)


Facts

Thirty-one-year-old Vincent Donnellan (plaintiff) was driving a cargo van when he was rear-ended by a school bus driven by Earl McClendon (defendant). First Student, Inc. (First Student) (defendant) owned the school bus. Donnellan suffered serious, debilitating, and permanent injuries as a result. Donnellan filed a negligence suit against First Student and McClendon. Prior to trial, McClendon was dismissed from the action, and First Student admitted that it was negligent. At trial, Donnellan testified about the extensive medical treatment and physical therapy he required due to the injuries he sustained in the crash. Donellan’s wife, Rosanne, testified about Donnellan’s daily pain and frequent inability to sleep. Additionally, Rosanne laid the foundation for the admission of a 4 1/2 minute “day-in-the-life” video, which showed Donnellan going to his physical therapist to receive treatment. Although Donnellan winced and showed signs of being in pain, he also smiled and talked with his therapist. First Student objected to the video, arguing that First Student had only received the video the day before the trial started. Further, First Student claimed that it had the right to depose the physical therapist. The trial court ruled that the video was admissible and that First Student could depose the therapist in the video. At the conclusion of the evidence, the jury held for Donnellan and awarded $6 million in damages, including awards for past medical expenses, past and future disability, disfigurement, and past and future pain and suffering. The trial court denied First Student’s post-trial motions. First Student appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Murphy, J.)

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