$333,000 Jury Verdict in T-Bone Crash Injuring Passenger and Drivers in Athens, Illinois

On June 12, 2013, the plaintiff, Andrew Gunderson, 14, was riding as a passenger on an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) being driven by another teen, the defendant Cody Fanter, also 14. Cody was driving the ATV on a dead-end street in a rural subdivision in Athens, Ill.

Meanwhile, the co-defendant, Cody Ingram, was driving a Jeep Cherokee with two teenage passengers coming toward the ATV riders from the opposite direction. Andrew Gunderson contended that the ATV was traveling on the right side of the road when the oncoming Jeep came around the curb, crossed over the center line of the road and entered into their lane of travel. This caused Cody Fanter to suddenly turn to his left to avoid running into the Jeep. As a result, the Jeep broadsided the ATV in the Jeep’s lane after Ingram corrected his path of travel.

The Jeep’s bumper struck Andrew Gunderson’s lower leg and the force of the direct T-bone impact caused Andrew Gunderson to be thrown off the ATV. He sustained a comminuted transverse complete fractures of the tibia and fibula, which required an open reduction internal fixation surgery; plates and screws were inserted. Medical expenses for Andrew Gunderson totaled $108,162.

The injuries forced Andrew to miss an entire year of sports, which included football, basketball and baseball in his freshman year of high school. The defendant, Cody Ingram, maintained that Cody Fanter was the proximate cause of the crash for driving the ATV into the Jeep’s lane of travel. Cody Ingram also filed a third-party, contribution claim against Cody’s father, Corey Fanter for negligent entrustment and negligent supervision by allowing his young son to operate the ATV on a public roadway.

The presiding judge granted the third-party defendant Corey Fanter’s motion for directed verdict based on evidence showing there was no prior accidents or driving problems involving his son Cody Fanter. The judge also granted Andrew Gunderson and Corey Fanter’s motions to bar defendant Cody Ingram’s human factors expert from testifying that warnings on the ATV (regarding traveling on public roads and avoiding riding with passengers) were disregarded by the Fanters thereby causing or contributing to the crash.

The jury’s verdict of $333,162 versus Cody Ingram was made up of the following damages:

  • $108,162 for medical expenses;
  • $100,000 for pain and suffering;
  • $100,000 for loss of normal life; and
  • $25,000 for disfigurement.

The verdict of not guilty against Cody Fanter, a minor, was also entered. There was a directed verdict versus the third-party defendant Corey Fanter, the father of Cody Fanter. However, during jury deliberations the plaintiff and Cody Fanter entered into a high/low agreement of $40,000 as the low and $100,000 as the high, which was the policy limits. Thus, the verdict of $333,162 would result in a payment of $100,000 in line with that agreement.

Before trial the demand to settle the case was $550,000, which was the same amount that counsel for Andrew Gunderson asked the jury to return in a form of a verdict.  The attorney representing Andrew Gunderson was Todd A. Bresney.

The offer to settle the case before trial made by the defendants was $135,000.

At trial, the plaintiff introduced testimony by the treating orthopedic surgeon for Andrew Gunderson.

Andrew Gunderson, a minor v. Cody Ingram, Cody Fanter, a minor, 13 L 10 (Menard County, Ill.).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile crash cases, truck and car injury cases, catastrophic injury cases, intersection crash cases, vehicular crash and injury cases and bicycle dooring injury cases for individuals and families who have been injured or killed by the negligence of another for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Arlington Heights, Bannockburn, Bellwood, Calumet City, Deerfield, Evanston, Flossmoor, Gurnee, Highwood, Inverness, Joliet, Kenilworth, Lake Forest, Melrose Park, New Lenox, Orland Park, Palos Heights, Palatine, Streamwood, Tinley Park, University Park, Wheaton and Wilmette, Ill.

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