On July 18, 2010, Natalie Cozzi, defendant Sergio Ramirez and Caitlyn Hopkins were involved in a four-car crash on the Dan Ryan Expressway near Washington Street in Chicago, Ill. The crash took place at about 1:30 a.m. in the southbound lanes. The chain reaction started when a “phantom” black SUV came to an abrupt stop in front of Cozzi, who claimed that she was able to make a complete stop 3-4 feet behind the SUV.
But after Cozzi stopped, she was rear-ended at high speed by the defendant Ramirez, who was driving a Ford F-150 pickup truck. The impact pushed Cozzi into the rearend of the black SUV.
The other defendant, Hopkins, then rear-ended Ramirez at high speed, causing a second rear impact to Cozzi’s car. The black SUV fled the scene after the crash. Cozzi, age 26, claimed that the crash injured her, causing a herniated or bulging disc at L3-4 with facet joint arthropathy and chronic low back pain. She had more than $23,000 in medical expenses and lost 7 ½ months of work as a union electrician. Cozzi’s claimed lost time from work was $53,328.