$9.87 Million Illinois Jury Verdict for Injury to Pedestrian Struck by Bus

A Champaign County, Ill., jury entered a $9.87 million verdict for severe injuries suffered by Patricia Marxmiller.  Marxmiller, 59, worked for a medical clinic in downtown Champaign. After returning to work at the end of her lunch hour, she parked her car in a lot at the corner of an intersection. She walked to the corner and began crossing in the marked crosswalk. At about the same time, the Champaign-Urban Mass Transit District (MTD) bus began entering the intersection from the cross street. When she had walked about halfway through the intersection, the bus turned right and hit her.

Marxmiller suffered severe injuries to both legs. She was admitted to a nearby hospital in critical condition and underwent surgery to amputate her left leg above the knee. She spent a month and a half in the hospital and endured extreme physical and psychological pain. When the doctors advised her that in order to save her right leg, she would likely face serious complications and no guarantee that the multiple surgeries would be successful, instead, Marxmiller opted to have the left leg amputated below the knee. Her past medical expenses totaled $666,600.

Before this horrendous incident, Marxmiller enjoyed her job, walking on a daily basis for exercise and playing with her grandchildren. She is now only able to walk short distances with the use of prosthetics and a walker and often uses a wheelchair. She has left her job with the clinic where she was working. Marxmiller often has periods of deep depression because of the physical and psychological limitations she now endures.

Marxmiller and her husband sued the municipal bus company and its driver alleging that they were negligent in choosing not to keep a proper lookout at the crosswalk stop line and for the failure to yield to a pedestrian with the right-of-way. The lawsuit later dismissed the bus driver but proceeded against MTD.

The Municipal Transit District, the defendant, argued that Marxmiller was contributorily at fault by failing to keep a proper lookout and that she started crossing the street when it was not safe to do so. Remarkably, it alleged that she had walked into the side of the bus. MTD reportedly maintained that affirmative defense for months.

In a hearing on a motion for summary judgment, the Marxmiller family presented evidence that the driver had failed to keep a proper lookout and follow industry custom and practice ,which dictates that buses should slow to a maximum speed of 5 mph while making a turn.

The Marxmillers’ experts gave opinion testimony that the driver of the bus was driving between 10-12 mph when he struck Ms. Marxmiller. In fact, the MTD’s own expert reportedly acknowledged that the bus driver was driving in excess of the industry custom of 5 mph.

The trial judge granted summary judgment in favor of the Marxmillers on liability and the case proceeded to trial on damages.

Marxmiller testified about the ways in which her amputations have affected every aspect of her life and made her feel that life she was once knew and enjoyed was over. The Marxmillers presented testimony by 23 witnesses, including family members, friends, caregivers and medical experts. The Marxmillers also presented a day-in-the-life film showing Ms. Marxmiller’s struggles with simple, every day activities such as cooking, cleaning or showering. The defendant called no witnesses.

The jury’s verdict of $9.87 million included $9.42 million to Marxmiller and $450,000 to her husband for loss of consortium. The verdict is subject to post-judgment interest accruing at a rate of 6% daily.

The attorneys who handled this difficult matter so expertly for the Marxmiller family were James J. Hagle, Jeffrey D. Frederick and Aaron Lauter. At trial, the Marxmillers’ attorneys presented experts in accident construction, bus safety, life-care planning and economics.

Marxmiller v. Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, No. 2015 L 38 (Circuit Court of Champaign County, Ill., Aug. 17, 2016).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling pedestrian accident cases, catastrophic accident cases, motorcycle accident cases and bicycle accident cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Western Springs, Palos Hills, Oak Forest, Orland Park, Elmhurst, Villa Park, Wood Dale, Chicago (Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Polish Village, Jefferson Park, Edgebrook), Niles, Glenview and Northbrook, Ill.

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