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Article updated: 11/9/2012 10:28 PM

DuPage brain-injury lawsuit settled for $5.1 million

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An Orland Park man whose brain-injury lawsuit hinged on medical research conducted on NFL players has settled the case in DuPage County for $5.1 million, his attorney said Friday.

Willie Wakefield, 56, sued after a pile of lumber fell three stories from a forklift at a Chicago construction site and struck him in the head.

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The March 2005 accident left Wakefield -- a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning worker -- with a concussion and a diminished capacity for memory and learning, Hinsdale attorney George Avgeris said.

Avgeris used the "cutting-edge" research of two doctors who conducted neuropathological studies on former NFL players' brains to prove that a single concussion caused his client's symptoms, which were similar to Alzheimer's disease.

"This is the research that has led to all of the NFL guidelines and all of the guidelines in any contact sport," Avgeris said Friday. "It is the cutting edge of traumatic neurology."

The $5.1 million settlement with the defendants -- general contractor Dubin & Associates and subcontractor Asbach & Vanselow -- is a record high in DuPage, according to the Jury Verdict Reporter, a division of Law Bulletin Publishing Company. Judge Patrick Leston presided over the case.

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