Jane Doe v. Robert Nikrandt & Daughters Trucking Company et. al. Kane County Trial: July, 2013

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Mike Mullen & Dan Donnelly represented Defendants Robert Nikrandt & Daughters Trucking Company and its driver in this truck versus pedestrian accident which occurred on or about Route 64 in the vicinity of Anderson Road in Elburn, Illinois at approximately 9:20 pm on the night of October 16, 2001. The Plaintiff  maintained that as she was walking eastbound alongside the eastbound lane of travel of Route 64, she was struck from behind by the Nikrandt tractor trailer operated by its driver resulting in a serious traumatic brain injury and knee dislocation which led to a knee replacement. She claimed that the residuals of her objectively verified TBI which required extensive in- patient rehabilitation precluded her return to any form of gainful employment.  Her medical expense claim was in the area of $280,000.00 and her lost earnings capacity claim was in the area of $500,000.00 The Plaintiff further claimed that the Nikrandt driver who as of the time of the accident had been on duty and working for 14 ½ hours and admittedly first observed the Plaintiff just two seconds before the impact, was guilty of negligence in the operation of his tractor trailer. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that because the truck driver was fatigued, he failed to keep a safe and proper look out and control of his vehicle and that had he done so, he would not have struck her person.

For their part, the Defendants contended that at the time of the occurrence the Plaintiff was walking in the eastbound lane of travel of Route 64, not alongside the roadway, and more likely than not was purposely attempting to cause herself grave bodily harm by doing so. Based on the circumstances of the accident and prior police and subsequent medical records, the Defendants’ retained forensic psychiatrist, a suicide specialist, was of the opinion that more likely than not, at the relevant time, the Plaintiff was attempting to take her own life. His ability to so testify was a highly contested issue and would have been a major issue on appeal in the event of a defense verdict.

After the case was called for trial, the parties spent the better part of a week arguing almost 50 substantive motions in limine which addressed the key evidence expected to be adduced at trial. Going into trial, the Plaintiff’s settlement demand was $1,000,000.00, the full policy limit of Nikrandt’s available insurance coverage. An earlier timed policy limit demand by the Plaintiff had previously been rejected by the Defendants. On Monday, July 8, 2013, a jury was selected and impaneled. On Tuesday, just prior to the commencement of opening statements, the Plaintiff capitulated and agreed to accept the Defendants’ final offer of $400,000.00 and the case was dismissed.

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