Man receives settlement for eye injury at East Lyme auto body shop

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An East Lyme man who lost the use of his right eye while helping out at the A-1 Auto Center body shop has received an out-of-court settlement of $960,000, according to his attorney.

John McKim, now 26, was not employed at the shop, then located at 184 Flanders Road, but went there on April 10, 2017, to see about sanding a boat for A-1 owner Christopher S. Douton, according to attorney Kevin G. Smith of the Faulkner & Graves law firm.

Douton asked McKim to help him dislodge a hitch from a truck that was on a lift in the garage bay, Smith said. At Douton's direction, McKim struck the hitch with a sledgehammer, and a shard of metal shot into his right eye.

In a civil lawsuit brought against A-1 and Douton in May 2019, Smith claimed Douton was negligent because he knew McKim was not wearing safety glasses and did not provide them to him.

McKim's eye injuries include tears of the retina, rupture of the globe, and hemorrhages. He underwent four surgeries within three months, but his vision is permanently lost. McKim might need additional surgery to treat infection, and the eye may have to be removed and replaced with a glass eye, Smith said.

Attorney Stephen Leary of the Meehan, Roberts, Turret law firm of Wallingford represented A-1 and Douton. Smith said he negotiated directly with an insurance adjuster employed by Liberty Mutual, the insurance company of A-1 and Douton.

The civil lawsuit has been withdrawn as a result of the settlement.

Douton did not immediately return a phone message left Thursday afternoon at the shop, which is now located at 208 Flanders Road. 

McKim, of East Lyme, attended Norwich Technical High School and the University of Northwestern Ohio, according to Smith. He's currently not working, Smith said. McKim is able to drive but the injury has limited his employment options, and he has suffered from social anxiety due to his appearance, Smith said.

k.florin@theday.com

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