Cook County Jury Awards $27.67 Million to Car Crash Victims

A Cook County jury awarded $27,672,152.15 to a woman who suffered paralysis below her chest in a car accident.

Nancy Hoffman, 59, lost use of her lower extremities in 2002 when a semitrailer truck struck her car on Interstate 80 in Iowa.  The truck driver transported steel coils to Iowa and was returning to Illinois.

Hoffman filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against the truck driver and three companies — the company that the driver leased the truck from, the logistics company that arranged the coil transportation and the company that supplied the coils.

She alleged that a principal-agent relationship existed between the truck driver and all three corporate defendants because they had a right to control his actions at the time of the crash.  The logistics and steel companies disputed this liability theory.

Jurors responded last week with $10 million of loss of normal life; $5 million for pain and suffering; $4 million for past and future medical expenses; $3.5 million for disfigurement; $1.3 million for lost earnings; and $750,000 for shortened life expectancy.

The jury also awarded about $2.8 million to Hoffman’s husband for his loss of consortium claim.  Hoffman’s daughter, who was a passenger in the car, received $800,000 for pain and suffering.

The family was represented by Robert J. Napleton and Daniel T. Madigan of Motherway & Napleton, LLP.

Napleton said the key to the verdict was that the jury agreed that the three companies should be linked to the truck driver.

“The plaintiffs are salt of the earth people and I’m happy that hopefully Nancy can receive the future care she needs,” Napleton said.

Hoffman’s husband and daughter provided constant care for Hoffman since the accident, Napleton said.

“And they need a break.  This verdict will allow them to get professional care that comes into the home to take care of Nancy,” Napleton said.

Associate Judge Patrick F. Lustig presided over the two-week trial.  The case is Nancy Hoffman v. Dorlan Crane, et al.  No. 07 L 11406.