In our final video about the O'Donnell Park case, attorney Al Foeckler describes why cases like this one are the reason he became a lawyer.
In the first of four short videos about the O'Donnell Park case, attorney Al Foeckler discusses the initial reactions he and his client had after the verdict was read.
O'Donnell foremen give conflicting testimony on panel installation
Two cousins who worked on the O’Donnell Park construction gave conflicting testimony Tuesday about the installation of heavy concrete panels including the one that fell from the structure three years ago. Two cousins who worked on the O'Donnell Park construction gave conflicting testimony Tuesday about the installation of heavy concrete
Official tells O'Donnell jury he doesn't recall change in panel work
A key employee on the O’Donnell Park garage construction said Monday he didn't remember ever hearing about a change in the method of attaching concrete panels to the building. A key employee of the project manager on the O'Donnell Park garage construction said Monday he didn't remember ever hearing about,
Fom JSOnline October 17, 2013:
An eyewitness to the 2010 O'Donnell Park fatality said Thursday she watched from across Lincoln Memorial Drive as a huge concrete slab broke loose and fell, then she ran to aid the survivors in the chaotic aftermath.
Reanne Bagemehl said the upper left corner of the slab over the O'Donnell parking garage exit detached first, then the entire panel tilted forward and landed face down on the driveway.
Part of the upper left corner of the panel crumbled as it broke loose, Bagemehl testified, during a civil trial over who is to blame for the accident.
"The left-hand corner slipped and started to crumble a lot," she said. "Moments later, it started to collapse."
She said there was a loud rumble when the panel broke loose and agreed she heard a scraping sound.
Bagemehl, who now works as a nursing assistant, was a 16-year-old high school student who was attending Summerfest the day of the O'Donnell accident.
It took 3 to 5 seconds for the panel to fall, Bagemehl said. The panel weighs more than 13 tons.
The timing is crucial to damage claims by the victims. Later testimony is expected to focus on whether there was enough time for fear of dying to register before the panel struck. Expert witnesses differed on that point, in pretrial depositions.
Bagemehl said she ran first to Amy Wosinski, whose lower leg was hit by the slab. A nurse who was passing by urged Bagemehl to go to Eric Wosinski, who suffered a broken leg and gash to his head.
She said Eric was covered with blood, but it was from his 15-year-old friend Jared Kellner, who was crushed by the panel and died instantly. She tried to calm down Eric by asking him simple questions, Bagemehl said.
Steven Wosinski, Amy's husband and Eric's dad, was "extremely shocked and frightened," Bagemehl said. "He was devastated that Jared didn't make it," she said.
Steven Wosinski testified Wednesday that he saw fear in the eyes of Eric and Jared in the moment before the panel hit the pavement.
By the time the injured Wosinskis were taken away from the scene, workers were using a jackhammer to break up part of the fallen slab, Bagemehl said.
Bagemehl, now 19, said she has become friends with the Wosinskis since the accident.
The Wosinski and Kellner families are suing Advance Cast Stone, the company that made and installed dozens of huge decorative concrete slabs for the O'Donnell structure, and Milwaukee County.
In other testimony Thursday, John A. Cliffe, the project manager for the O'Donnell construction, said project plans called for four top connectors to mount the panels.
Only two connections were used and they were done by a different method than project specifications called for, according to lawyers for the families and an engineering consultant's report done for the county.
Cliffe also agreed that Advance faced penalties of $1,000 a day for completing the project late and that if the firm had been forced to remake some of the panels that might have caused a big delay.
Cliffe, now retired, worked for J. H. Findorff & Son on the O'Donnell project, which was finished in 1992. The Findorff firm was hired by the county to manage the $30million project. The company paid an undisclosed sum to settle claims it also was at fault in the accident.
Attorneys for Advance said in their opening statement Wednesday that lack of maintenance to O'Donnell by the county and vehicles hitting and scraping the panel were to blame for its collapse.
From JSOnline October 16, 2013:
A man who witnessed the deadly 13-ton concrete panel falling from O'Donnell Park in 2010 and its bloody aftermath said Wednesday the accident had devastated his family and left him feeling guilty, fearful and angry.
Steve Wosinski described a chaotic scene, as he turned around while walking from the O'Donnell parking ramp's Lincoln Memorial Drive exit and saw the 34-foot-long slab twist off its moorings and crash to the pavement.
He saw his son Eric and his 15-year-old friend Jared Kellner in the split seconds before the panel dropped, then ran frantically to his son, Wosinski said in the first day of testimony in a civil trial over who was at fault for the accident.
"I didn't know what was happening at that point," said Wosinski, of East Troy. "I didn't know if the whole (structure) was going to collapse on top of us."
Jared was crushed to death by the panel. Eric Wosinski suffered a double twist fracture of his leg from the force of his own movement to dodge the slab, but was not struck by the panel itself. Amy Wosinski, Steve's wife and Eric's mother, was hit by the slab on her lower leg and later had it amputated below the knee.
Steve Wosinski described running to the aid of his son, then glimpsing Jared's body.
"I lost it at that point," Wosinski said. "I just started screaming, 'Oh, God, please, no.'"
He found his wife lying on the pavement at the opposite end of the slab and spent the next few moments running between his wife and son, trying to comfort them, said Wosinski.
He described recurring nightmares and guilt about how any little change in the events leading to the accident might have prevented the death and injuries. The Wosinski family had agreed at the last minute to include Jared in an outing to the June 24 opening day of Summerfest.
"I blame myself," Wosinski said. "I still do."
He drove and chose the route to downtown Milwaukee, including a slight delay from missing a freeway entrance. He decided to park at the O'Donnell structure, because that's the first place he saw near Summerfest.
Irrational fears of accidents still plague him, Wosinski said. When driving on expressways, he often glances at bridges overhead and worries about whether they'll collapse, he said.
His often emotional testimony dominated the trial Wednesday, with Amy Wosinski and Dawn Kellner, Jared's mother, seated nearby. It followed presentations by lawyers from multiple parties in the case summarizing theories on who was to blame for the tragedy.
Advance Cast Stone used an unapproved shortcut method of hanging many of the massive concrete panels on O'Donnell Park garage — including the one that fell, attorneys for the plaintiffs said in opening statements.
The Random Lake concrete fabricator "is a business that would rather lie to make a buck than to do the job safe," said Allan Foeckler, the lawyer representing the Kellner family.
Advance lawyer Matthew McClean blamed lack of maintenance by Milwaukee County and vehicles hitting or scraping the panel since O'Donnell opened more than 20 years ago.
McClean said the firm had approval for the way the panels were hung, but said no documents were found that show that. Some key players in the O'Donnell construction are deceased and can't tell their stories, McClean noted.
"In some respects, there's a mystery here and you've been asked to solve it," he told jurors.
The firm changed the way the panels were supposed to be hung — with stainless steel pins that were to slide into the underlying concrete wall — to get the job done faster, Foeckler told the jury.
The firm switched to a "drill-and-pound" method of attaching the 13-ton panel and others like it on the east side of the O'Donnell structure to avoid having to wait for grout sealing the connections to dry, Foeckler said.
The 30- to 40-minute wait for the grout to dry was important because that meant costs of using a crane to lift panels in place would be much higher, Foeckler said.
McClean said, however, that the county "did no maintenance and they did no inspection. The county's own policy was waiting for things to fail and then fixing them."
County Executive Chris Abele has been subpoenaed to testify in the case. He's expected to be asked about statements he made in 2011 linking deferred maintenance to the O'Donnell accident.
Abele later said he had misspoken.
At some point during the five-week trial, jurors will be taken by bus to examine the panel that fell and the one that was mounted adjacent to it, Circuit Judge Christopher Foley said. The panels are in storage at a building near Mitchell International Airport, he said.
Foeckler said Jared's parents are seeking $7.5 million in damages, plus an additional unspecified amount in punitive damages against Advance.
The Wosinskis' injuries and loss of time from work added up to more than $800,000, plus $2 million for future earnings lost by Amy Wosinski, their lawyer Timothy Andringa said. She hasn't worked since the accident and needs another surgery, he said.
Foeckler and Andringa dramatized the size of the faulty panel by pacing off its 34-foot length in the courtroom with a tape measure. Foeckler, holding one end of the tape, backed nearly to the outside door to the courtroom.
Its weight matched two elephants or three big pickup trucks, Foeckler said.
The county, which built and owns O'Donnell Park, is blaming Advance Cast Stone for the accident and is seeking $7.1 million to cover costs of repairing the structure and for lost parking revenue.
Patrick O. Dunphy was invited by Marquette University Law School to teach a class in advanced Torts. The presentation by Mr. Dunphy dealt with current practical issues in the day to day practice of personal injury law. His discussion included legislative changes in the law of products liability, joint and several liability, the collateral source rule, the growth of statutory immunities, caps on damages in medical malpractice cases, and insurance coverage issues in automobile accidents. Mr. Dunphy also discussed how low offers that are being accepted by high volume law firms are adversely affecting the entire personal injury practice to the detriment of the injured clients. Mr. Dunphy advised the class that the low settlement offers encouraged by these high volume law firms will likely lead to an increase in the number of trials over the next 5-10 years because law firms like his will not short change his clients to avoid trials and the low offers do not create much risk to his clients by going to trial. During the course of the class, the subjects of work place accidents, punch press accidents, medical malpractice cases, limitations on damages, auto, truck and jet ski accidents, and personal injury damages and the practical impact that changes in the law has had on the rights of injured people were all discussed.
Award-winning attorney Pat Dunphy explains the most appropriate time to settle a personal injury case.
Article by James Romesko
THE STATISTICS PROVE IT: More and more people need lawyers these days. They’re splitting from their spouses, getting scalded in industrial accidents, going after shysters of all sorts and just trying to see justice done.
In just one year, the number of cases in Milwaukee County Family Court skyrocketed 24.4 percent – from 15,169 divorce, paternity and custody cases in 1988 to 18,869 last year, according to records in the Clerk of Courts Office.
Civil cases, too (which include large and small claims, personal injury suits and garnishments), jumped 7 percent in Milwaukee County last year – to 81,212 cases.
With these numbers, the chance of your needing an attorney sometime in your life are very good. But where do you go for good legal advice?
Milwaukee Magazine’s second best lawyers survey (we did our first in 1985) is designed to recognize legal talent and serve as a guide for readers seeking an attorney. We recognize that there are numerous excellent attorneys in the Yellow Pages who don’t appear on these pages; the following men and women were most often cited for their exemplary performances.
David Erne, president of the Milwaukee Bar Association, suggests that people in need of an attorney seek out other lawyers for advice. To whom would that attorney go if he needed legal advice outside his specialty?
Erne also suggests that people consult the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which rates lawyers on an A-B-C scale and offers biographical sketches of attorneys. (The directory is available at the Central Library.)
The Milwaukee Magazine survey results are based on a polling of several hundred Milwaukee-area attorneys as well as numerous follow-up interviews. As might be expected, we got many of the same names that surfaced in our 1985 poll, but dozens of new ones were brought to our attention – men and women who’ve gained the respect of their peers in recent years.
(FOR THE PLAINTIFF)
Several well-known attorneys received nearly the same number of votes from their peers, although William Cannon (Cannon & Dunphy) landed on top. A former partner with the Habush firm, Cannon and his partner, Patrick Dunphy, recently made headlines for the $17.2 million judgment they won for three Manitowoc burn victims.
The 42 year old Cannon, whose first four years as a lawyer were spent representing insurance companies in personal injury cases, won the largest malpractice award against the United States in 1982 when he “uncovered and unraveled the mess” of a former Air Force surgeon who came to Milwaukee and left a women in a coma after he reversed the lines on a heart-lung machine. The case was featured on 60 minutes.
Reporter Eldon Knoche in Milwaukee and correspondent
Mike Kinzel in Manitowoc contributed to this story
Three construction workers who were severely burned in a flash charcoal fire while rebuilding an incinerator were awarded $17.2 million Friday in a verdict believed to be the largest for actual damages ever awarded in Wisconsin.
The verdict against Red Arrow Products Co. Inc., a Manitowoc manufacturer of liquid wood-smoke flavors, ended a nine-week trial that featured more than 2,400 exhibits.
It was the longest trial in Manitowoc County history, Circuit Judge Allan Deehr said.
The verdict will be reduced by $3 million because the jury found the supplier of the space heater that ignited the charcoal liable for that portion of the total.
The jury did not know the supplier, William Shaus & Sons of Manitowoc, already had agreed to settle its share of the case for $2 million.
Added to the award will be $4.6 million in interest and court costs, said Patrick O. Dunphy and William M. Cannon, the workers’ Milwaukee attorneys.
That means the three will receive a total of $20.8 million.
“My clients had their day in court and they won a terrific result,” Dunphy said.
The men were working for Hamann Construction Co. of Manitowoc, which was rebuilding Red Arrow’s incinerator Feb. 27, 1986.
Charcoal dust in a feed pipe leading to the incinerator fell out of the pipe. An estimated 100 pounds or more of the dust came into contact with a propane gas space heater and ignited, Dunphy said.
Plaintiffs in the case were:
· Thomas Theisen, 27, of Manitowoc, who suffered burns over 86% of his body. He has had 145 skin grafts and became deaf as a result of antibiotics used to fight burn infections. He stands to receive about $15 million.
· David Kuehnl, 48, of Manitowoc, who was burned over 64% of his body. He would get $3.7 million.
· Michael Dietrich, 32, of Valders, who had burns over 50% of his body. He would get about $2.1 million.
The men alleged Red Arrow was negligent in failing to seal off the pipe and failing to clean the charcoal dust out of it.
Testimony indicated Red Arrow had plugged the bottom of the 3 foot long, 6-inch-diameter pipe with a rag to keep the dust out of the work area, Dunphy said.
Ten days after the construction had started, the men, not knowing the pipe contained dust, removed the end of it at Red Arrow’s direction, Dunphy said.
Medical mistake left former White House aide from area disabled.
The following is an excerpt from an article appearing in the January, 1998 issue ofMilwaukee Lifestyle West:
Article by Rob Golub
Photography by Luke Weber
If you should be so lucky as to wind up in litigation, you don’t just need a lawyer on your side. You need a pit bull.
You want a trial lawyer who’s tenacious. You also want your lawyer to approach your case with intellect and common sense. He needs to know when and how to settle. Not to mention, he needs the ability to connect with a judge and jury. Southeast Wisconsin has a litany of great trial lawyers who do just that. But after a good deal of research, we’ve whittled the local bar down to ten lawyers who are among the best.
We came up with our list by way of paper research, talking to lawyers, and even interviewing local judges who will remain anonymous. We asked lawyers and judges who they thought was best, or who they wouldn’t want to face in court.
There were those — in the minority — who insisted that you want to face a good attorney in court, that the man you don’t want to face is the incompetent attorney.
Some attorneys were less idealistic, such as those who suggested themselves. We didn’t give those votes too much weight. Some lawyers selected their own partners. Through careful questioning and research, we did our best to ferret out that sort of thing. We also checked with the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, to ensure our choices are members of the bar in good standing.
Our result is a short list of great litigators. These are guys you want on your side, people you don’t want to mess with. If you’re the bad guy, these are lawyers you definitely do not want to face in court.
Cannon & Dunphy
Though Bill Cannon and Pat Dunphy make our list as individuals, the two have practiced together for 12 years. Actually, they grew up together, part of the Irish-Catholic community in Wauwatosa. “All the kids ran together,” remembers Dunphy, so the two got to know each other even though Cannon was three years older.
Cannon and Dunphy once terrorized the neighborhood together. They would “ring the doorbell and run,” remembers Cannon. “Our perspective has changed a little bit since then.”
They attended separate law schools, but were brought together again when both joined Robert Habush’s firm in the late ’70s. In 1985, the two left Habush to form their own firm. It was not a sweet parting. “I would call it less than amicable, but that’s ancient history,” says Dunphy.
Today, Cannon & Dunphy, S.C. is one of the best-regarded personal injury firms in the state. The dynamic duo have only tried a case together on three occasions, but they both handle auto accidents, employee injuries, and both medical and legal malpractice.
“We love what we do,” says Cannon. Dunphy agrees: “I feel like I got my law degree for a socially useful purpose.” Indeed, one Milwaukee lawyer says Cannon and Dunphy are “righteous about their cases,” that getting into the shoes of their clients makes them more effective. Another attorney says, “They’re very aggressive. These two are head and shoulders above the rest.
The following is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the October, 1999 issue of Milwaukee Magazine:
PERSONAL INJURY (for the plaintiff)
Leading a well-seasoned pack of PI attorneys is Patrick Dunphy (Cannon & Dunphy). Formerly with Robert Habush’s firm, Dunphy began his legal career as a defense attorney for insurance companies. Last year, he represented a survivor and the widows of three men killed in a fiery truck-van crash on U.S. Highway 41, settling with Consolidated Freightways for an undisclosed amount.
“He doesn’t mislead people, his success is well-deserved,” says a peer. “He can write, he can think and he can try cases,” adds another.
Dunphy’s personal recommendations: Excluding past and present associates, to whom would Dunphy refer clients? “I’d highly recommend Jim Murphy, Ric Domnitz, Don Prachthauser and Gerry Bloch,” he says. “Terrific people as well as highly skilled lawyers.”
William Cannon (Cannon & Dunphy), also an alum of the Habush firm, scores points for his intensity and doggedness. When he’s in a trial, “he can’t let go,” says one attorney. “He eats it, he breathes it – a great quality for most cases, a — quality for some.” Says a Milwaukee judge: “He’s every bit as good as everybody says.”
by Dave Daley
of the Journal Sentinel staff
A 12-year-old Egg Harbor boy whose arm was wrenched off last year by a defective Laundromat washing machine won nearly $9 million Thursday in what legal experts believe is among the largest personal-injury settlements in state history.
The $8.85 million awarded Michael R. Newell and his family by the manufacturers and distributors of the heavy-duty commercial washing machine is believed to be the largest award ever for an amputation injury in Wisconsin. It is among the half-dozen biggest personal-injury awards in the state’s history.
Michael, 11 at the time of the accident in May 1994 at the Bay Ridge Laundromat in Sturgeon Bay, had his left arm reattached later during a 15-hour operation.
However, he’ll probably never regain more than 5% use of the arm, court records show.
“The doctors say it’s a hanging appendage that’s about 95% useless,” said William Cannon, the Brookfield lawyer who negotiated the settlement on behalf of Newell.
“This is probably the fifth-or-sixth-largest settlement ever for personal-injury case in Wisconsin history,” Cannon added. “And for an arm amputation, there are no ifs ands or buts – this is a record.”
Under the settlement, approved Thursday in Brown County Circuit Court, the manufacturer of the washing machine, IPSO International NV of Belgium, will pay the Newell family $5 million, and the distributor, Mac-Gray Co. Inc., will pay $3.5 million.
In addition, Wisconsin-based American Queensway Inc., which installed the IPSO Big Mac triple-load washer, is paying the Newell family $350,000 to avoid a jury trial on the personal-injury claim, Cannon said.
Under the settlement, Cannon and his law firm, Cannon & Dunphy, are to receive $2.9 million in attorney fees – 33% of the $8.85 million settlement, the standard share generally given lawyers in personal-injury suits, Cannon said.
The only remaining defendants in the case are the owners of the Laundromat, Struck Bros. Inc., who are not part of Thursday’s settlement. Cannon said negotiations with Struck Bros. had ended and a jury trial on a more than $1 million claim against them is expected in May next year.
“We believe they were negligent for having known unsafe premises – the defective door on the washing machine,” Cannon said.
The injury to Michael, described at the time as a freak accident, happened after the boy, his older brother and their mother went to the Laundromat to wash blankets, rugs and other items too big to wash at home.
The mother, Terri Newell, sent Michael in to see whether the machines had stopped. He opened the door of one while the machine was in the spin cycle, then apparently got his arm caught in the machine’s rotation after trying to stuff back in laundry that had fallen out.
According to Cannon, the washing machine was designed with two safety features, neither of which worked: a locking device to keep the door shut while in operation, and device to stop the machine from spinning if the door is pried open.
The first police officer on the scene reported the mother holding the boy, trying to stop bleeding from his shoulder and the boy’s left arm, which she had retrieved from the washing machine.
In a letter made part of the settlement, Hani S. Matloub, a professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin, said the boy still suffered considerable psychological problems relating to the injury, including sleep disturbances, nightmares and flashbacks.
Matloub said Michael would need further bone grafts, nerve grafts and other surgeries over the next few years that may cost as much as $100,000.
by Tom Kertscher
of the Journal Sentinel staff
St. Michael Hospital has agreed to pay $1.1 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a Milwaukee woman who alleged that lack of care forced her to get a heart transplant.
The woman’s lawyer, Mark Thomsen of Brookfield, said the hospital relied on a resident doctor when a specialist should have been on duty.
“Despite the denials, the payment of $1.1 million by St. Michael and its insurers reflects that St. Michael ultimately conceded that it was responsible for the lack of care provided,” he said.
The hospital’s lawyer, Lori Gendelman of Milwaukee, would not comment, but the hospital did not admit any liability in settling the case.
Under the law, hospitals can be held responsible for their own actions, such as staffing levels, as well as the actions of doctors or other staff.
Halina Zurad, 51, of the 3400 block of N. Dousman St., was a patient at St. Michael on May 27, 1997. A cardiac catheterization was performed, and when a second one was needed, there was a delay of about three hours because a specialist was not available, according to Thomsen.
“She’s essentially dying in the room, and the resident doesn’t know what to do,” he said.
The delay, Thomsen said, damaged Zurad’s heart so much that a heart transplant had to be performed. Zurad, a clerk at Boston Store in Glendale, has not returned to work and suffers from lethargy and other problems, he said.
Zurad filed a lawsuit in May 2000 in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. She reached the settlement, to be paid from insurance, last week, Thomsen said.
The information is based on published and publicly available information. Results depend on the facts of each case.
Award-winning personal injury attorney Bill Cannon identifies important differences among personal injury lawyers, and explains why choosing Cannon & Dunphy is "the right call."
Award-winning personal injury attorney Pat Dunphy explains the passion he has for his clients, and why he enjoys being a lawyer.
Award-winning personal injury attorney Bill Cannon describes the quality of lawyers at Cannon & Dunphy, and offers the firm's promise