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Jury awards $1.25 million to pilot who sued United after falling on icy O’Hare tarmac

A pilot who sued United Airlines after he fell on an icy patch of tarmac at O’Hare Airport was awarded $1.25 million by a Cook County jury Wednesday morning.

When Jim Reiners, who’s now 50, stepped off the stairs leading from his small aircraft to a lined path on the tarmac in December 2004, he fell and injured a disk in his back, said Reiners’ attorney Dave Wise.

The injury ended Reiners’ career because, his attorney said, he can’t sit more than an hour or two without back pain.

The jury awarded Reiners $1.7 million, but reduced the amount by 28 percent due to negligence on Reiners’ behalf because, they decided, he should have been looking for the ice and was not using the handrail as he descended to the tarmac.

Reiners, who lives in Colorado, made about $65,000 a year plus benefits as a pilot for United Express when he was injured, said Wise.

In an emailed response, a United spokesperson wrote: “Although we have great respect for the jury system and are evaluating our options, we disagree with and are disappointed by the verdict.”

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