ENGEL v. CHICAGO & NW. TRANSPORTATION CO.
186 Ill. App.3d 522 (1989)
Appellate Court of Illinois — First District (4th Division).
Opinion filed February 16, 1989.
The second group of documents were inspection reports prepared by Frank Barton, a safety inspector employed by the Park District. According to his testimony, he customarily prepared inspection reports on the day of the inspection, using a yellow legal pad. At the end of the day he tore the report off the pad and placed it in a file in
the office. Each new report would be prepared outside of the office and then put in the file.
The six original Barton reports, which had not been produced prior to trial, appeared to have been prepared with the same pen, on the same pad, despite the fact that they supposedly had been prepared on different dates over a two-year period. The reports were examined by a documents examiner who noted that each sheet of paper contained impressions of writing as if from another sheet of paper that was on top. Using a special technique geared to raising legible copy from the impressions on the paper, the examiner deduced that the Barton report dated September 12, 1979, for example, had been written on top of the July 12, 1979, report because of the imprint left on the July 12 report. Yet according to its date, the September 12 report would not have been in existence on July 12. The other five original Barton reports contained similar imprints.
On the day that Engel was injured he had met some friends at the park. They decided to go to a nearby store for candy. From inside the park, the shortest route to the store was through the opening in the fence and over the railroad tracks. Engel noticed a train coming at a very slow speed. The train came to a stop and Engel waved to the conductor, who waved back. When the train started up again, Engel got on a ladder on the side of the train. At the time the speed of the train was four or five miles an hour. The speed limit in that area was 10 miles an hour.
Engel rode the train for approximately 30 feet and then alighted to join his friends. He had seen others getting on and off the moving trains, including the railroad employees. He attempted to mimic the way in which the men had jumped off the train. Instead, he got spun around and fell, his left leg going under the train. The first wheel crushed his leg and caused it to stick to the track. Twenty-five cars then ran over his leg while he was helpless to move it.
After Engel's leg was surgically amputated in the hospital, the stump beat against the bed in uncontrollable spasms. He underwent repeated and painful skin grafts. He also underwent a lengthy and painful struggle to regain even limited use of his leg. The medical evidence indicates that he is in chronic pain and can walk only short distances on an artificial leg.
The jury returned a verdict in his favor, awarding him $5 million in compensatory damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages on the wilful and wanton misconduct count. The trial judge later vacated the punitive damages award on the ground that municipal corporations are immune from punitive damages awards.