Patton & Ryan Cook County Defense Verdict
On December 6, 2005, Decedent was testing reflectivity of skip lane markings as a contractor with Illinois Tollway which provided safety protection from motor vehicle traffic by contract to the decedentIllinois Tollway provided 3 warning vehicles with lights and signs, but James Garrett, driving a semi-tractor trailer unit for Overnight Transportation Company, struck one of the stopped Tollway vehicles at 55 mph and launched it forward where it struck and killed the decedent.
James Garrett and Overnight admitted liability, but blamed Illinois Tollway’s traffic safety design. Illinois Tollway’s Maintenance Director admitted that the plan was “grossly inadequate” to channel traffic. Yet, Tollway asserted that the warning vehicles were more than sufficient to prevent the accident. Overnight had two experts who claimed that the safety plan was grossly inadequate to meet Uniform Traffic Control designs and were confusing. However, Overnight dropped their experts in the middle and called Illinois Tollway’s human factors expert who admitted that some of the safety plan was ineffective. Tollway’s defense was based on the admissions of Garrett and the testimony of Garrett’s coworker who was in training and following behind Garrett.
Illinios Tollway argued that James Garrett was the sole proximate cause of the accident. The jury deliberated for approximately 1 and ½ hours before returning a verdict of Not Guilty on behalf of Illinois Tollway.