MILWAUKEE (WITI) — $39 million. That’s how much a Milwaukee County jury awarded the victims hurt by a concrete panel that fell from the O’Donnell parking garage. But FOX6 News has learned there is a chance the victims may never see most of that money.
The jury undoubtedly intended the victims in the O’Donnell parking garage tragedy to be compensated for the death of 15-year-old Jared Kellner.
The Wosinski family is also on the jury’s list of those who should benefit. The family was injured as they walked next to Jared on their way to Summerfest in 2010.
The jury also wanted the company they deemed mostly responsible — Advance Cast Stone, which installed the panels — to be punished. But the $39 million awards may be just numbers and wishful thinking by the jury. The jury also determined there was intentional wrongdoing by the company — and that could allow the insurance company to say it won’t cover it.
Professor John Kircher of Marquette University wrote the book on punitive damages, literally.
“Under the so-called commercial liability policy, there is an exclusion that says the policy does not apply to bodily injury or property damage either intended or expected from the point of the insured,” said Kircher.
The jury may have to come back to court and rule if in this case, the insurance company has to cover the award after all.
“When it boils down, it’s unlikely the victims would get anywhere near that much — especially if the defendant doesn’t have a pot or window to put it in,” said Kircher.
On Monday, there is a hearing to sort out some of the issues at hand. But it’s clear, $39 million doesn’t necessarily mean $39 million in the end.