The most recent in a round of settlements reached following a 2005 Metra train derailment have resulted in $1.45 million to Catherine Kozi-O’Donnell, a woman who sustained injuries in the Illinois train accident. The Joliet resident’s leg was badly broken during the train accident and required knee replacement surgery.
Earlier this summer Metra reached a $2 million settlement with a man who suffered hip, shoulder, and leg injuries following the Illinois train derailment. In addition, the surviving families of two passengers who were killed as a result of the 2005 train accident, Jane Cuthbert and Allison Walsh, settled their claims with Metra for $11 million.
The 2005 Illinois train accident resulted in the death of the two women and 117 injured passengers. In Illinois, whenever there are large numbers of plaintiffs filing personal injury lawsuits against one similar entity, typically their claims are broken up into manageable groups. While these groups might initially all be treated as one entity in order to aid the discovery process, eventually they are placed on different litigation schedules. This schedule allows the defendant to stagger their response to the different individual lawsuits. Not only does this help the defendant, but it also helps the plaintiff by insuring that each’s case receives equal attention.
The staggering of these Illinois personal injury claims would explain why the settlements are coming in waves. Presumably as each case comes closer to its trial date it also comes up for consideration for settlement. However, not all of the personal injury claims resulting from the 2005 train accident have been settled. Most notable is the case of Renea Poppel, a passenger who was severely injured in the train accident, which left her needing 24-hour care and therapy. An Illinois jury awarded her $29.5 million for her past and future medical expenses.
The current $1.45 million settlement does not represent the last of the Illinois personal injury lawsuits against Metra. As more claims move closer to trial we can expect to hear about more settlements from the Illinois railroad.
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