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Man Awarded $7.4 million

Chicago (AP)

A man paralyzed after he fell 20 feet over a railing at Soldier Field has been awarded $7.4 million, and a lawsuit filed Thursday asks that the park district open exit gates that have been closed for nine years.

A Cook County jury Wednesday awarded the money to Byron Boll, who broke his neck after a Chicago Bears game in September 1983.

Boll’s attorney, Terrence Hegarty, said his client was forced over a railing by fans leaving the game.

If the north gates had been open, Hegarty said, there would not have been a stifling crowd of fans and Boll would not have fallen over a railing.

Boll sued the Chicago Park District, which owns the stadium, as a result of his injuries.

The new lawsuit asks the park district to open the north gates that were closed nine years ago to make room for parking space for skybox owners.

“We want to open up the exit ramps,” Hegarty said.  “In th course of the trial, experts said you could lose hundreds of people if there were a panic” and spectators rushed for the gates.

Jack Doyle, attorney for the park district, would not comment on the new lawsuit, but said the district would probably appeal the $7.4 million judgment.

"I think it’s probably a situation reflecting a jury’s compassion for a young man with very serious injuries, “ Doyle said.