Most personal injury lawsuits pass to a jury who decide on the verdict based on testimonies, evidence, and the cross-examination. Rows of strangers make the final decision on who wins and lose the case. This may seem unfair, and it definitely is a challenge for plaintiffs to consider since it takes time to acquire testimonies and prepare a defense. For suburban woman Tierney Darden, 26, a personal injury case concluded with a large settlement, one that will doubtlessly help her cope with the financial costs of her medical condition. A court awarded Darden $148 million after she suffered a serious injury in an O’Hare bus shelter collapse. The catastrophe left Darden partially paralyzed.
The Chicago Tribune reported on the story. Tierney Darden was a dance student who was at the O’Hare airport in Chicago one day in early August, 2015. Her 19-year-old sister and her mother were with her, all grouped just outside O’Hare on the lower-level street access to Terminal 2. The three had spent time in Minneapolis and had only just returned to Chicago. They had been shopping for bridesmaids dresses for a wedding. Back in Chicago, the three were waiting out some stormy weather underneath a pedestrian shelter. They were patiently waiting on their ride to pick them up when part of the shelter collapsed–seriously injuring Darden. In addition to the pain and anguish of the initial injury, doctors later confirmed that Darden’s spinal cord had been severed in the accident. Tragically, no medical treatments could help and she was left paralyzed from the waist down. This injury was particularly devastating for the young Darden, a dancer with a bright future ahead of her.
Darden decided to seek redress through the legal system. Investigators ultimately concluded that the shelter was in disrepair. There were important components such as bolts missing when it collapses in the storm. The same investigators looked at other shelters and found that they were also badly maintained. Missing, corroded, and otherwise compromised parts were scattered throughout Chicago shelters. Darden’s legal counsel took this information to the Cook County courts. A jury ultimately ruled that Darden deserved $148 million from the City of Chicago. At the culmination of the trial, Darden became understandably emotional. She started crying when Judge Clare McWilliams announced the jury’s decision. The trial had taken seven days, but the jury needed only four hours to come to a verdict.
It is a harsh reality that we cannot anticipate what can happen to us. The City of Chicago needs to be more liable and held accountable for their poor maintenance. Because of this tragedy, Darden will not be able to use her legs to dance and express herself. The city effectively ruined her life. While $148 million is a lot of money to have won, it does not reverse what happened to Darden. She will have to adjust to her new reality. How can we make sure we are safe by the products we use? Cities should make sure their public goods and commodities are checked regularly for safety so people’s lives and bodies will not be ruined.Read More