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Volume 156, No. 198                                           Monday, October 11, 2010




Motorcyclist awarded $2.9 million for police car crash
           By Maria Kantzavelos                      Place, when Chicago police officer Richard               Under the state’s Tort Immunity Act, a
              Law Bulletin staff writer              Austin pulled off the shoulder of the road-          police officer attempting to enforce the law is
    A Cook County jury has returned a $3.3           way near 18th Street to take enforcement             immune from liability based on negligence.
million verdict against the City of Chicago          action against another speeding vehicle,             As a result, the standard at trial was whether
and in favor of a man who suffered a severe          Hoffman said.                                        the officer was willful and wanton — whether
nerve injury 11 years ago when he was                   The officer was merging into southbound           he was engaged in a course of conduct that
thrown from a motorcycle on Lake Shore               traffic across two lanes, Hoffman said, when         showed an utter indifference to, or conscious
Drive in a collision with a Chicago police car.      Ross struck the police car and was thrown            disregard for, the safety of the plaintiff.
    The verdict, which was returned                  from the motorcycle, landing on the pave-                Harrison said attorneys for the city
Wednesday in a three-day retrial of the case,        ment. He suffered a total brachial plexus            argued that the officer used his emergency
was reduced by 10 percent to nearly $2.99            avulsion — an injury that affected the set of        equipment, checked for traffic and that it
million as a result of the jury’s finding of the     nerves that control the hand, arm and shoul-         seemed safe to merge at the time he pulled
plaintiff’s comparative negligence.                  der. The injury left him with a “flail arm”          out from the shoulder. He said the city also
    The motorcyclist, Brian Ross, suffered a         with no prospect of successful treatment or          argued that Ross, who testified that he had
tearing away of the nerves at the cervical           recovery, Hoffman said.                              been traveling above the allowable speed
region of his spinal cord, which resulted in            “I think that after 11 years, Brian Ross          limit, drove up suddenly behind the police
the complete loss of motor function and sen-         finally received the justice he had been wait-       car and was at fault for the accident.
sation in his left arm and hand. His case was        ing for,” Hoffman said. “The city never once             The plaintiff’s attorneys argued that the
first filed in 1999 and was initially dismissed      made an attempt to settle the case, and              primary purpose of all police activity is pub-
by a Cook County trial judge. The dismissal          Brian never gave up the fight and he got the         lic safety, and that before the officer left the
was reversed by the 1st District Appellate           award that he deserved.”                             shoulder to take enforcement action against
Court in 2003, and the case was refiled and             Deputy Corporation Counsel Matthew A.             the driver of the other speeding vehicle, he
tried in May of this year, when it was               Hurd and Assistant Corporation Counsel               was required to make sure his entry into the
declared a mistrial because that jury was            Mark D. Harrison represented the city.               roadway would not endanger oncoming
deadlocked.                                             City attorneys have not made a final deci-        motorists, Hoffman said.
    Kenneth A. Hoffman of Mitchell,                  sion on whether they will appeal the verdict,            “It was simply a speeding violator, it was
Hoffman & Wolf LLC represented the                   Harrison said late Friday afternoon.                 not a kidnapper or anything like that,”
plaintiff along with co-counsel Steven W.               In reaction to the verdict, Harrison said:        Hoffman said. “We argued primarily that he
Jacobson of Jacobson & Sorkin Ltd.                   “We accept the jury’s decision, but we stand         should’ve seen the motorist coming and if it
    On Sept. 7, 1999, Ross, a 29-year-old U.S.       by our officer’s conduct. We believe that he         was unsafe, you let the violator go.”
Postal Service worker, was riding his motor-         did not consciously disregard the safety of              Cook County Circuit Judge Donald J.
cycle home from downtown, traveling south            others, because that would have put himself          Suriano presided over the trial. The case is
on Lake Shore Drive near McCormick                   at risk also.”                                       Ross v. City of Chicago, 07 L 8609.




           Copyright © 2010 Law Bulletin Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from Law Bulletin Publishing Company.

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Mitchell Hoffman- Motorcycle Accident Judgement

  • 1. ® Volume 156, No. 198 Monday, October 11, 2010 Motorcyclist awarded $2.9 million for police car crash By Maria Kantzavelos Place, when Chicago police officer Richard Under the state’s Tort Immunity Act, a Law Bulletin staff writer Austin pulled off the shoulder of the road- police officer attempting to enforce the law is A Cook County jury has returned a $3.3 way near 18th Street to take enforcement immune from liability based on negligence. million verdict against the City of Chicago action against another speeding vehicle, As a result, the standard at trial was whether and in favor of a man who suffered a severe Hoffman said. the officer was willful and wanton — whether nerve injury 11 years ago when he was The officer was merging into southbound he was engaged in a course of conduct that thrown from a motorcycle on Lake Shore traffic across two lanes, Hoffman said, when showed an utter indifference to, or conscious Drive in a collision with a Chicago police car. Ross struck the police car and was thrown disregard for, the safety of the plaintiff. The verdict, which was returned from the motorcycle, landing on the pave- Harrison said attorneys for the city Wednesday in a three-day retrial of the case, ment. He suffered a total brachial plexus argued that the officer used his emergency was reduced by 10 percent to nearly $2.99 avulsion — an injury that affected the set of equipment, checked for traffic and that it million as a result of the jury’s finding of the nerves that control the hand, arm and shoul- seemed safe to merge at the time he pulled plaintiff’s comparative negligence. der. The injury left him with a “flail arm” out from the shoulder. He said the city also The motorcyclist, Brian Ross, suffered a with no prospect of successful treatment or argued that Ross, who testified that he had tearing away of the nerves at the cervical recovery, Hoffman said. been traveling above the allowable speed region of his spinal cord, which resulted in “I think that after 11 years, Brian Ross limit, drove up suddenly behind the police the complete loss of motor function and sen- finally received the justice he had been wait- car and was at fault for the accident. sation in his left arm and hand. His case was ing for,” Hoffman said. “The city never once The plaintiff’s attorneys argued that the first filed in 1999 and was initially dismissed made an attempt to settle the case, and primary purpose of all police activity is pub- by a Cook County trial judge. The dismissal Brian never gave up the fight and he got the lic safety, and that before the officer left the was reversed by the 1st District Appellate award that he deserved.” shoulder to take enforcement action against Court in 2003, and the case was refiled and Deputy Corporation Counsel Matthew A. the driver of the other speeding vehicle, he tried in May of this year, when it was Hurd and Assistant Corporation Counsel was required to make sure his entry into the declared a mistrial because that jury was Mark D. Harrison represented the city. roadway would not endanger oncoming deadlocked. City attorneys have not made a final deci- motorists, Hoffman said. Kenneth A. Hoffman of Mitchell, sion on whether they will appeal the verdict, “It was simply a speeding violator, it was Hoffman & Wolf LLC represented the Harrison said late Friday afternoon. not a kidnapper or anything like that,” plaintiff along with co-counsel Steven W. In reaction to the verdict, Harrison said: Hoffman said. “We argued primarily that he Jacobson of Jacobson & Sorkin Ltd. “We accept the jury’s decision, but we stand should’ve seen the motorist coming and if it On Sept. 7, 1999, Ross, a 29-year-old U.S. by our officer’s conduct. We believe that he was unsafe, you let the violator go.” Postal Service worker, was riding his motor- did not consciously disregard the safety of Cook County Circuit Judge Donald J. cycle home from downtown, traveling south others, because that would have put himself Suriano presided over the trial. The case is on Lake Shore Drive near McCormick at risk also.” Ross v. City of Chicago, 07 L 8609. Copyright © 2010 Law Bulletin Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from Law Bulletin Publishing Company.