$62,000 Cook County Jury Verdict in Rear-End Crash Involving Drunk Driver

On May 4, 2006, Thomas J. Diorio was driving westbound on Lake Street (IL Route 20) in Bartlett, Ill.  He was traveling at a speed of 35 mph when the defendant, Matthew J. Pattelli, rear-ended Thomas’s car near Park Boulevard. The crash caused about $2,300 in damage to the plaintiff’s 2005 Lincoln Navigator and $2,950 in damage to the Pattelli sedan. Photos of both of these cars were admitted into evidence by the court.

Diorio is a business owner. At age 58, he suffered a herniated disc at C4-5 with cervical radiculopathy, which is nerve pain traveling down the neck and spine. He also had neck pain, shoulder pain and headaches. His medical expenses were more than $29,000. There was no claim for lost time as Diorio had retired.

The defendant, Pattelli, 28, was drunk at the time of the crash. His blood/alcohol level was .199, which is more than double the Illinois legal limit for intoxication.

Prior to this collision, Pattelli had attended a Chicago White Sox game and then received a ride to Champps Bar located in Lombard, Ill. At trial, Pattelli was not able to recall how much alcohol he consumed or what he was doing after the White Sox game until the time of the crash.

Pattelli pleaded guilty to a DUI charge related to this incident, but evidence of a second DUI charge in 2010 was barred because it had been pleaded down to reckless driving.

The defense for Pattelli admitted negligence for the crash, but contested whether Diorio was injured, as well as the nature and extent of his injuries. The defendant also pointed to several gaps in Diorio’s medical treatment and a later fall on ice in March 2008.

Before trial, the attorneys representing Diorio, Stephanie K. Nathanson and Michael T. Peterson, made a demand of $100,000 to settle the case. At trial, the jury was asked to return a verdict of $161,634. The only offer to settle the case made by the Pattelli attorneys was just $11,000.

At this jury trial, counsel for Diorio presented medical testimony by a chiropractor, two orthopedic surgeons and a rehabilitation/physical medicine expert. The defendant presented an expert in rehabilitation and physical medicine.

The jury’s verdict of $62,200 in favor of Diorio was made up of the following damages:


  • $52,000 for compensatory damages ($16,700 for medical expenses; $15,500 for past pain and suffering; $5,000 for future pain and suffering; $13,500 for past loss of normal life; $1,500 for future loss of normal life); and
  • $10,000 for punitive damages.

Punitive damages are generally allowed in cases where the acts or omissions of a defendant were so grossly negligent or the acts rose to the level of willful and wanton that punitive damages as a punishment are allowed to be introduced to a fact finder or jury. This was the case here.

Thomas J. Diorio v. Matthew J. Pattelli, No. 12 L 6481 (Cook County, Ill.).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling car crash cases, truck accident cases, bicycle injury cases, motorcycle injury cases, pedestrian injury cases and premises liability 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 surrounding areas, including Cicero, Elgin, Joliet, Waukegan, Hinsdale, Hillside, Melrose Park, Frankfort, Northlake, Des Plaines, Niles, Chicago (Brighton Park, Lawndale, Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Logan Square, Irving Park, Stockyards, Canaryville, Beverly, Washington Heights, Pullman, Lake Calumet), Riverside and Bridgeview, Ill.

Related blog posts: