For the second time in two years, Jenner & Block Partner Louis E. Fogel and second-year Associate E.K. McWilliams teamed up to win a jury trial for a pro bono client. The case stemmed from a car accident that occurred in January 2015. The client, Sakib Choudhury, initially filed a pro se complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County, alleging that the defendant collided with his car while the defendant was attempting to merge lanes on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. The defendant’s insurance company denied the claim, forcing Mr. Choudhury to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket to repair his car. Although he prevailed at non-binding arbitration, the defendant’s insurance company still refused to settle the case.
At that point, the Chicago Bar Association and CARPLS (Cook County’s largest provider of free legal services) reached out to the firm seeking pro bono representation for Mr. Choudhury.
After a one-day trial in which McWilliams conducted voir dire, selected the six-person jury, presented opening statement, questioned two witnesses on direct and re-direct examination, cross-examined the defendant’s fact witness and made the closing argument, the jury awarded Mr. Choudhury $3300, which was 30 percent more than the defendant’s final settlement offer. The award included transportation-related costs for the four months that Mr. Choudhury did not have access to his vehicle.
Summer associates Mila Babic, Jing X. Quek and Smitha B. Uthaman attended the trial, joining Mr. Fogel and McWilliams in the judge’s chambers for argument on motions in limine and jury instructions.