Wrongful death lawsuit in 2010 pole vaulting incident at Illinois College hears closing arguments

By Gary Scott on May 11, 2018 at 12:32pm

Closing arguments in the wrongful death lawsuit against Illinois College are ongoing at the Morgan County courthouse today.

The case is centered on the death of Robert Yin, a pole vaulter at Grinnell College who passed away due seven days after suffering injuries sustained during a track meet at Illinois College in 2010. Jurors continue to hear closing arguments from both sides, with the prosecution nearing the end of their closing argument as of approximately 11:30.

Attorneys representing Yin’s mother, Sandra Giger, focused on a number of aspects in the case during their closing argument. During their closing arguments, the prosecution utilized a number of images and testimony in an attempt to prove that, during the course of the pole vaulting incident, Yin did not miss the protective landing pad situated below the beam, claiming that Yin did in fact land on the right side of an add-on portion of the landing pad, and that he slid off of the padding, causing him to sustain injuries that would ultimately take his life seven days later. The prosecution focused on the idea one, Yin did not in fact miss the protective landing pad – as they maintain the defense bases their argument around – but that the portion of the protective landing pad he did land on was not properly attached to the main protective pad.

Throughout the course of their closing argument, the prosecution pointed to NCAA rules regarding pole vaulting mats, which were altered to make them several inches wider back in 2002. They also point to a number of requirements spelled out in the safety standards of the ASTM, which specifically touch on how wide the landing pads for pole vaulters should be, as well as how to properly attach any necessary add-on padding, which was utilized in the incident that resulted in Yin’s death.

Testimony from various witnesses at the track meet, including those given by the lead official at the 2010 track meet, Grinnell’s head track coach and individuals in charge of overseeing the attachment of extensive padding was used by the prosecution in attempting to show that Yin’s death was caused by improperly installed add-on attachments.

Nearing the end of their closing argument, the prosecution addressed the jury in regards to the damages and monetary compensation to Yin’s family as a result of his death. As for the medical costs incurred during Yin’s death, the prosecution is seeking nearly $125-thousand dollars. For the pain and suffering of Yin, as well as that suffered by family members, prosecutors are asking for $250-thousand dollars. In terms of the “Loss to Society” that occurred as a result of Yin’s death – which includes monetary estimates that each of Yin’s family members would have received if he continued to live – the prosecution is seeking $10 million dollars. And for the grief and suffering of Yin’s next of kin, prosecutors asked for an additional $2 million dollars.

Taking all of those damages together, the plaintiffs in this case are seeking more than $12.3 million dollars to be paid out to Yin’s family. As for which institutions are responsible for paying that more than $12 million total, prosecutors were getting close to providing a breakdown of who they felt was responsible, including Illinois College and Gill Athletics, the company that produced the protective landing pad and, as the prosecution argues, failed to provide instructions for properly attaching or binding add-on padding.

As of 11:30 today, the prosecution was nearing the end of their closing argument, with the defense team yet to have their turn at presenting a closing argument. The defense team will have the opportunity to present their closing argument before the jury today. Depending on the length of that closing argument, as well as the time it takes for members of the jury to deliberate, a decision is likely to be read to the court some time this afternoon.