A paralyzed woman in Vernon Hills was recently awarded a whopping $148 million after being struck by a bus shelter that collapsed at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport a few years ago. Reports revealed that the city's failure to properly maintain the shelter led to the tragic incident that harmed Tierney Darden.
That fateful afternoon the incident transpired, Darden, along with her mother and her younger sister, had just returned to Chicago from Minneapolis, where they were shopping for bridesmaid dresses for a wedding that was soon approaching. The ladies were waiting to get picked up when a raging storm rolled through the area. The strong winds ripped the 700-pound shelter above them from its foundation, causing it to fall, and Darden was struck.
“My mom kept telling me to get up, and I couldn't,” she said during an emotional testimony.
After a thorough examination from medical professionals, they informed Darden's family that the then aspiring dancer would never dance again. Doctors said that her spinal cord had been severed beyond repair, and that she would be paralyzed from the waist down. As a result of Darden's injury, the once independent Truman College attendee, now lives with her father for support in Vernon Hills. She will suffer from chronic pain and will be confined to a wheelchair for the remainder of her life.
According to Darden's lawsuit, an investigation conducted by local authorities found that the shelter that injured her was missing several bolts. Investigators concluded that other shelters at the O'Hare airport were also poorly maintained, containing eroding parts and damaged brackets. The city of Chicago, which is listed as a defendant in the lawsuit, admitted that it was completely responsible for the conduct that led to Darden's current condition. The trial was held solely to determine the monetary damages she would receive for her debilitating injuries.
The trial lasted seven days and the jury deliberated for a total of four hours before they came up with a calculation of Darden's damages. Her legal team initially sought $175 million in damages, but they were not disappointed with the final verdict. Darden tearfully hugged all of the jurors once the trial had commenced. Her attorneys released a statement regarding the outcome of the trial.
“We're very, very grateful the jury recognized the severity of her injuries and the long road that she has ahead of her,” attorney Patrick Salvi Sr. said. “This is a very, very special case in the sense that Tierney was truly a victim of wrongful conduct by the city at O'Hare.”
The city assures that the payout will be funded by insurance, not by taxpayers.
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