7-Eleven to pay $91 million to suburban man who lost both legs in storefront crash

The man’s legs were crushed in 2017 when a driver plowed into a Bensenville store, one of thousands of similar crashes at 7-Elevens across the U.S., attorneys said.

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A sign hangs outside of a 7-Eleven store on January 10, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.

A suburban Chicago man will receive a $91 million payout to settle a lawsuit against 7-Eleven. In 2017, a car ran into the front of a Bensenville store, crushing his legs.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

A 57-year-old suburban man who became a double amputee after a car pinned his legs against the front of a Bensenville 7-Eleven will receive a $91 million payout from the convenience store chain.

The 2017 crash was one of the thousands of similar incidents identified in discovery for the case, collisions that frequently resulted in crippling injuries, said James Power, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiff, who wished to be identified as “Carl” to avoid drawing attention to his windfall.

The settlement was approved by a Cook County judge on Monday, the day the case had been set for a jury trial, and is the largest pre-trial settlement in a personal injury case in state history, Power said. Joseph Power Jr., Larry Rogers Jr. and Louis Berns also represented the plaintiff.

“(Carl) was in shock. Just silent amazement,” Power said, noting that his client had been hospitalized for a month after the crash and now walks using prosthetic legs. “He has been through a lot of pain.”

The case was the first in which attorneys had access to some 15 years of reports from 7- Eleven, which identified some 6,253 storefront crashes at 7-Eleven stores across the country, Power said. Data from a previous lawsuit against the company identified another 1,525 crashes between 1991 and 1996.

The crashes could have been prevented if 7-Elevens had installed bollards — thick posts anchored in the ground — between storefronts and parking spaces, Power said.

A spokesperson for 7-Eleven, which operates some 8,000 locations nationwide, said, “We are heartbroken by this tragedy and our thoughts continue to be with Mr. Garcia and his loved ones. It is important to note that this unfortunate accident was caused by a reckless driver who pled guilty, and this store followed all local building codes and ordinances.”

Carl was a frequent customer of the Bensenville store, and most days would walk a few blocks from an apartment he shared with his three sons to buy his morning coffee and wait for his carpool to his job at a food processing plant, Power said.

The morning of Sept. 20, 2017, Carl’s ride was running late, and a man pulling into a parking space in front of the store stepped on his car’s accelerator instead of the brake. The car lurched over the curb, across a sidewalk and pinned Carl against the storefront, causing injuries that would require the amputation of both his legs above the knees. Another driver had crashed into the front of the same store 16 months earlier, Power said.

“We have evidence 7-Eleven had been getting sued for these kinds of incidents going back to 1990,” Power said, noting the total number of storefront crashes identified in the case indicated that, on average, a car crashed into a 7-Eleven store about once a day.

“They said they were not tracking the crashes, but the idea that nobody knew about them is a little unbelievable,” Power said.

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