$4 Million – Woman Injured in School Parking Lot
The defendant was pulled 10 to 20 feet and struck her face and head on the side of the truck…As a result of the impact, she suffered a herniated disk that required surgery to fuse three vertebrae in her neck.
Injured in school parking lot, woman settles for $4M
By Marc Karlinsky
Law Bulletin staff writer
A trucking company has agreed to a $4.125 million settlement with a former Joliet school official who suffered a spinal injury when she was dragged alongside a truck following a delivery.
Genova Singleton was speaking to Antonio Grasela, the driver of a truck operated for CEVA Freight Management, after he dropped off electronics equipment at Washington Junior High School in Joliet in July 2010.
An assistant principal, Singleton was arguing with Grasela, sitting in his truck, that he
delivered the equipment to the wrong part of the school.
In her complaint filed in Cook County Circuit Court against CEVA and Grasela, Singleton alleged that Grasela started to drive the truck away as she was leaning through his open driver’s-side door with one of her arms through the window.
She was pulled 10 to 20 feet and struck her face and head on the side of the truck, but did not fall.
As a result of the impact, Singleton suffered a herniated disk that required surgery to fuse three vertebrae near in her neck.
Following the surgery, Singelton suffered small strokes that doctors linked to the injury, said her attorney, John M. Power, partner at Cogan & Power P.C.
She has weakness on her left side and can only walk short distances with a cane, Power said. She relies on a scooter to get around and has residual pain in her neck and diminished function in her left arm.
“She retired because she could not bet back to her job,” he said. “She had aspirations to move up to superintendent.”
Singleton, who was 58 at the time, went on disability for several years until she reached retirement age for her teacher’s pension.
Houston-based CEVA and Grasela filed an affirmative defense alleging that Singleton continued to argue as Grasela tried to leave and that she tried to stop the truck.
The two sides still disagree on exactly what circumstances led to her injuries. But Power credited CEVA’s attorneys—Lew R.C. Bricker and Robert D. Boroff of SmithAmundsen LLC—for being quick to find a resolution even with contending viewpoints.
“I’m happy they recognized early that liability was really not going to be a great defense,” Power said. “In this case, they were prompt in their response to get to the right spot in the case, once they got the data they needed.”
The $4.125 million settlement, reached Wednesday, comprises a $2 million policy under the National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh with the remainder under a policy with AIG.
“The lawyers worked together to get to the right issues,” Power said. “It was very nice, a great experience with SmithAmundsen.”
Bricker said his client wishes well for Singleton.
“We do dispute the nature of how the action occurred, but we’re happy the matter had been settled,” he said.
The case is Genova Singleton, et al., v. CEVA Freight, LLC, 11 L 10694.
Originally published on August 25, 2014 in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin