Jury deliberations only beginning in 2010 pole vaulter wrongful death trial

By Benjamin Cox on May 11, 2018 at 6:55pm

The two defense teams in the wrongful death case regarding a fatal pole vaulting incident at Illinois College in 2010 wrapped up their closing arguments late yesterday afternoon while the jury continues its deliberation.

As previously reported, Attorney Martin Healy, representing Plaintiff Sandra Giger, the mother of Robert Yin, who suffered fatal injuries after a pole vaulting fall at an Illinois College track meet eight years ago, was the first to deliver his closing argument yesterday morning. And after taking a recess for lunch, the two defense teams representing Illinois College and Litania, the company that supplied the protective landing pad used in the deadly pole vaulting incident, got their chance to present closing arguments to a panel of twelve jurors.

Going first was Attorney David Mueller the defense lawyer for Illinois College in this case. In his closing argument, Mueller pointed to a number of aspects, including a lack of scientific evidence presented by Attorney Healy; the fact that, based on what he referred to as uniform testimony, Illinois College complied with all NCAA rules throughout the course of the 2010 track meet, and evidence regarding what part of Yin’s body landed on the landing pad.

According to Mueller, with the exception of one questionable testimony, all of the eye witnesses from the May 14th, 2010 track meet claimed that Yin landed on the right edge of the landing pad. Mueller argued that this evidence, provided by a number of testimonies, that the impact of Lin’s body on the add-on portion of the landing area caused the padding to compress, in turn causing the additional protective padding to separate. In the conclusion to yesterday’s closing argument, Mueller encouraged members of the jury to start by thinking about the problem, and then work their way towards finding answers that point to an accurate conclusion as to what exactly led to Yin’s death. He also asked the jury to consider the aspects of the trial that can be scientifically proven, unlike the testimony provided by one witness in particular by the name of Gerald George, who Mueller argues never used scientific theory to support any of claims made during his testimony.

Next to present his closing argument was Attorney Brian Hunt, who represents Litania Sports Group, an innovative athletic equipment company based out of Champaign. Hunt’s argument focused mainly on his claim that, in order for the jury to decide in favor of the plaintiff, Attorney Healy must prove that both the add-on protective pads were separated and overhanging – two claims that Hunt says are not supported by any of the evidence presented.

Following the closing arguments of both defense teams, Healy was given 15 minutes for a rebuttal. After that, Judge April Troemper provided members of the jury with a lengthy list of specific instructions about their respective duties, then dismissed them for deliberation at approximately 4 p.m.

Given the lengthy day of closing arguments, plus the fact that jurors did not start deliberating until closer to 4 p.m., there’s a chance this already-extensive case could see yet another small delay, as the Morgan County courthouse closed at 4:30, and the limited time provided for deliberation, there’s a chance that this case could be continued until Monday.