Jury presents verdict in wrongful death lawsuit involving Illinois College

By Blake Schnitker on May 12 at 11:48am

A verdict has come down in the wrongful death trial against Illinois College and a Champaign-based athletic equipment company.

After three weeks of hearing testimony, looking over evidence and hearing closing arguments, the jury in the wrongful death case of Robert Yin, a Grinnell College pole vaulter who died after injuries sustained during a 2010 track meet at Illinois College, has finally come down with a verdict.

Closing arguments took up nearly the entire work day yesterday, starting shortly after 9:30 a.m., and ending shortly before 4:15 p.m. Attorney Martin Healy, representing the Plaintiff, Yin’s mother Sandra Giger, was the first to present his closing argument. After a lengthy closing argument, Healy concluded by laying out the plaintiff’s monetary requests, and all together, the total requested amount came out to approximately $12.3 million.

Following a brief lunch break, the two defense teams representing Illinois College and the Litania Sports Group – the company responsible for providing the protective landing pad that played a primary role in this case – gave their closing arguments. Attorney David Mueller represented Illinois College. Mueller’s closing argument stressed the lack of legitimate scientific evidence presented by Healy, the fact that, as he argues, Illinois College complied by all NCAA rules, and precisely where and what part of Yin’s body landed on the protective landing pad.

Attorney Brian Hunt, representing Litania, was the last to make his closing argument. Hunt addressed jurors by saying that, if they decided on a verdict in favor of the Plaintiff, they should be one hundred percent confident in their belief that the two add-on protective pads became separated from the main protective landing pad, and that those add-ons were hanging over the edge of the track surface. A lack of evidence to support these claims is what Hunt based the majority of his argument on.

As closing arguments and Attorney Healy gave a brief rebuttal, Judge April Troemper provided the jury with a list of very specific instructions and duties prior to sending them off for deliberation.

Following deliberation, the jury came back with its verdict, which rewarded $2.5 million to the Plaintiff, with 50 percent reduced for contributory negligence – which was applied because it was determined that the Plaintiff, or in this case Robert Yin, contributed to his own death through a some degree of negligence – with Illinois College to pay 60 percent of the $1.25 million dollars, and Litania to provide 40 percent of that total.

Thus, Illinois College will end up paying a total of $750,000 to the Plaintiff, while Litania will cover the remaining $500,000.