Helping Chicago Victims One Case at a Time

Below is a small sample of the settlements, awards, and verdicts that represent the different types of cases that have been handled by Cavanagh Law Group. The description is not meant to explain all facets of the case, but to provide an idea of the type of clients represented.

Szynalik v. Chicago Transit Authority, et al.
Settlement: $5,550,000

On the eve of trial, Cavanagh Law Group obtained a $5.55 million settlement for the family of a woman killed in Chicago on December 31, 2007. Ludwika Szynalik, age 59, was a passenger on a Chicago Transit Authority bus traveling west on Addison Street near its intersection with Natchez Avenue. When the bus stopped, Szynalik exited the bus and went to retrieve her bicycle that she had previously placed on the bus's front bicycle rack. As Szynalik attempted to remove her bicycle, the CTA's bus driver suddenly accelerated, ran her over and dragged her approximately 100 feet down the street. Szynalik was immediately rushed by paramedics to a nearby hospital where she survived for just a few hours.

The day after Szynalik's death, Cavanagh Law Group had a protective order entered to preserve all evidence related to the horrific incident. Numerous cameras installed on the CTA bus recorded Szynalik in the last moments of her life. The video footage shows the bus accelerating and running over Szynalik while she is clearly in view of the bus driver. For five years, the CTA denied that its driver was at fault, even though the CTA's own video clearly captured the horrific events. The settlement was agreed upon only after the CTA finally admitted that its driver was at fault.

See also: Wrongful Death, Mass Transit Accidents and Bus/CTA Accidents

Egbert v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet, et al.
Settlement: $1,900,000

On October 8, 2012, Cavanagh Law Group partners Tim Cavanagh and Matt Rundio obtained a $1.9 million settlement for a 38-year-old man injured in a car crash in Romeoville, Illinois. On November 5, 2006, Bill Egbert was on his motorcycle stopped at a red light when he was struck from behind by a vehicle driven by Fr. Raymond Garbin. The impact threw Bill onto the hood of Garbin's car and his motorcycle was catapulted down the road. The car's windshield was shattered by Bill's motorcycle helmet and Bill sustained multiple injuries, including a closed head injury. The matter was on trial at the time of the settlement in the Circuit Court of Will County.

See also: Car Accidents, Motorcycle Accidents, Rear-End Collisions, and Brain Injuries

Kuk v. Metra
Settlement: $1,800,000

On Sunday, October 12, 2003, Kathryn Kuk, Steven Kuk and Megan Kuk were passengers on a Metra train that was transporting passengers from Chicago to Joliet, Illinois. As the Metra train approached the intersection of Federal Street and 47th Street in Chicago, the train's engineer missed a red stop light. The train derailed at a speed of 68 mph, where the maximum speed was 10 mph. As a result of the derailment, Kathryn Kuk sustained an aggravation of a pre-existing spinal cord condition, Grade II Spondylolisthesis. Kathryn required two fusion surgeries and also had a permanent spinal cord pain stimulator implanted. Steven and Megan sustained minor injuries and were treated and released.

On August 13, 2012, Cavanagh Law Group partners, Tim Cavanagh and Matt Rundio, went to trial in front of Judge Michael Panter in the Circuit Court of Cook County. While Metra admitted liability it contested the nature and extent of Kathryn Kuk's injuries. After a jury was selected, Kuk's attorneys presented numerous doctors who testified about Kathryn's injuries, surgeries and pre-existing condition. On the fifth day of trial the parties settled for $1.8 million.

See also: Train Accidents, Mass Transit Accidents, METRA Accidents, Train Derailments, and Spinal Cord Injuries

Ajmeri v. Illinois Central Railroad Co., et al.
Settlement: $9,100,000

On September 21, 2000, Hanifa Ajmeri of Carol Stream settled her personal injury case for $9.1 million. Hanifa Ajmeri was severely injured in March, 1998, after the car she was in collided with a train in DuPage County. Ms. Ajmeri was left with nerve and mild brain damage.

The case stemmed from an accident in Bloomingdale, Illinois, when a car that carried Ajmeri was hit by a train owned by the Illinois Central Railroad Co. At the time of the accident, the train was operated by Chicago Central & Pacific Railroad Co.

According to Ms. Ajmeri's attorney, Timothy J. Cavanagh, railroad crossing lights were not visible at the time of the accident due to blizzard-like weather conditions, and the crossing gate for the southbound traffic had been knocked down. The settlement was reached while counsel was selecting a jury. The trial was slated to begin that same afternoon.

See also: Mass Transit Accidents, Railroad Accidents

Rao v. Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Company
Settlement: $400,000

On April 4, 2001, Timothy J. Cavanagh filed a lawsuit against a local railroad company for the death of 16-year-old Arvin Rao. Arvin was a passenger in a car that was struck by a freight train operated by Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Company on April 11, 1999.

The lawsuit alleges that the railroad was negligent for not providing crossing gate arms at the railroad crossing on Illinois Route 34 in Aurora, Illinois, despite the fact that the Illinois Commerce Commission recommended the addition of crossing gate arms in April, 1997, two years before the collision. The lawsuit also alleges that the railroad should have slowed its trains down or provided a flagman at the crossing until the crossing gate arms were provided. Several months after this deadly collision, the railroad finally provided crossing gate arms at the Route 34 crossing.

See also: Railroad Accidents, Wrongful Death

Velarde v. Illinois Central Railroad Co., et. al.
Verdict: $55,715,406.65

(Verdict for passengers — 21,310,406.65) — A couple was awarded a total of $21,310,406.65 for injuries suffered in a January 9, 2001, car/train collision. Fidel, age 73, and Francisca, age 73, were passengers of an SUV struck by an 8 million pound train at 50 miles per hour. The crossing gates and lights were not working, and the dispatcher erroneously told the train crew that the crossing was protected. The plaintiffs suffered traumatic brain injuries in the collision. The amount awarded to the Velardes' and their daughter, who was the driver of the car, totaled over $55 million.

This was a state record in Illinois for a railroad crossing collision case. The trial of the lawsuit was expedited at the request of plaintiffs' counsel due to the Velardes' age. On February 8, 2002, after a two-week trial, Timothy J. Cavanagh received a record verdict in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of his clients.

See also: Defective Railroad Signs, Brain Injuries

Hopkins v. Westlake Hospital
Settlement: $7,500,000

A 42-year-old mother of three presented at the emergency room with chest pain. The hospital staff failed to provide an EKG immediately and gave Ms. Hopkins a drug that sped up the heart. Plaintiff suffered a myocardial infarction and suffered brain damage.

See also: Medical Malpractice

Coglianese v. Cardiovascular Renal Consultants
Verdict $600,000

(Offer None)
An adult female patient died at Blue Island Hospital from sepsis after doctors failed to detect a perforated colon despite a history of a recent colonoscopy and X-ray films that demonstrated free air. Case settled pretrial for $2,000,000 against the radiologist.

See also: Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death

Vlachos v. Hungerford, et al.
Settlement: $14,000,000

The family of a 5-year-old Chicago boy was awarded $14 million in a settlement after he suffered a severe brain injury during birth after hospital staff members allegedly mixed up his heart rate with his mother's pulse. The malpractice complaint against Northwestern Memorial Hospital contended the baby was not breathing when he was born and that emergency staffers were not prepared to resuscitate him because of the monitoring error. The seven-minute lapse without oxygen caused the child to suffer from cerebral palsy, leaving his arms and legs paralyzed, according to the complaint. The child will be wheelchair-bound when he gets older and cannot walk, talk or feed himself.

See also: Birth Injury, Medical Malpractice

Czapski v. Maher
Verdict: $13,720,007.98

(Offer: $1.9 million)
On April 20, 2009, Timothy J. Cavanagh obtained a $13.7 million verdict on behalf of the Estate of Roger Czapski against Christopher Maher arising from a deadly automobile crash. After a two-week long trial and three hours of deliberation, the jury returned the verdict finding Maher 98 percent responsible for the wrongful death of Czapski.

On August 4, 2004, Czapski, age 22, was a salesman for Motor Werks of Barrington, Inc. That afternoon, Maher, a 20-year-old from Inverness, Illinois, took a BMW 530i on a test drive, with Czapski riding as the front seat passenger and Maher's two friends seated in the back seat. The BMW violently collided with a left-turning vehicle at the intersection of Algonquin Road and Willow Creek Church Drive. The BMW then ricocheted into a light post and exploded on impact. At trial, witnesses to the collision, including the two back seat passengers in the BMW, testified that the BMW was traveling at 95 mph at the time of impact. The posted speed limit on Algonquin Road is 45 mph. Czapski was pronounced dead at the scene.

Czapski is survived by his father, mother and brother. At the time of his death, Czapski was living in Crystal Lake, Illinois. He graduated from Lane Tech College Preparatory High School in Chicago, Illinois, on the honor roll and attended the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana for a brief time. He worked as a Motor Werks salesman for approximately 18 months before his death.

See also: Motor Vehicle Accidents

Police Officer v. Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency
Award: $5,758,495

(Offer: $2,000,000)
A 28-year-old female Mundelein police officer was pinned between a limousine and her squad car when a limousine driver rear-ended plaintiff's squad car. Plaintiff suffered a near traumatic amputation of her right leg above the knee, multiple fractures of her left leg and the loss of her unborn seven-week old fetus three weeks after the accident. The 1996 award is the highest reported uninsured motorist award in Illinois history.

See also: Motor Vehicle Accidents

Barnes v. Berry Electric Contracting Company, Inc., et al.
Settlement: $4,100,000

A 70-year-old grandmother was driving to the store when her vehicle was broadsided by a truck driven by Dennis Svec, an employee of Berry Electric. Svec was lost and looking at his BlackBerry device when his vehicle entered the intersection. Witnesses testified that Svec ran the red light although one witness disagreed. Mrs. Barnes suffered multiple traumatic injuries, including a C4-5 distraction injury and dural tears requiring anterior and posterior fusion surgeries, multiple pelvic fractures requiring external fixation surgery, punctured heart, rib fractures, closed head injury and cranial nerve palsy. The case settled immediately before opening statements one year to the day of the crash. The case was advanced to trial after Mr. Cavanagh took over 30 depositions in 12months.

See also: Cellphone Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents

Stalling v. National Railroad Passenger Corporation
Settlement: $1,500,000

On January 9, 2001, Becky Stalling operated a minivan in the westbound direction on County Line Road with her daughter, Ryan Stalling, in the front seat of the van. The minivan approached and entered the Livingston Road crossing and was hit by a southeast bound Amtrak train traveling approximately 79 mph. Both Becky and Ryan sustained traumatic injuries that resulted in immediate death. The Livingston Road crossing was equipped with crossbucks signs and an advance warning sign. The crossing did not have automatic flashing light or gates. The Livingston Road crossing was owned by Union Pacific; the train was operated by Amtrak.

Plaintiff, Gregory Stalling, the surviving father and husband of Ryan and Becky Stalling, respectively, alleged that the crossing was extra hazardous and Union Pacific was negligent for failing to install automatic flashing lights and gates in light of several recognized crossing risk factors the crossing presented: two buildings obstructing the motorist sight triangle; severe angle between the crossing and roadway; multiple tracks; and high-speed trains. Plaintiff also alleged Hartman negligently operated the Amtrak train and failed to sound the whistle on approach to the crossing.

See also: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Wrongful Death

Cottrell v. State Farm Automobile Insurance Company
Settlement: $1,200,000

A 17-year-old high school honor student was killed in a one-vehicle crash in McHenry County, Illinois. The case settled for the full amount of the insurance policies available on the vehicle after State Farm Automobile Insurance Company was sued for destroying evidence by scrapping the wrecked car.

See also: Wrongful Death, Motor Vehicle Accidents

Koning v. Morris
Settlement: $1,000,000

A man drove his Jaguar into a Starbucks Coffee shop striking a table occupied by two women. One of the women suffered neck and shoulder injuries.

See also: Motor Vehicle Accidents

Brown v. Seaberry
Settlement: $1,000,000

A truck crossed the center line, crashing into a vehicle driven by a young man who suffered traumatic injuries to his left arm.

See also: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Truck Accidents

DeJule v. Solberg
Settlement: $1,000,000

A young man suffered a neck injury in a car crash leading to cervical fusion surgery.

See also: Car Accidents, Truck Accidents

McGill v. G.G. Connections, Inc.
Settlement $1,000,000

Mother and son were killed in a two-vehicle collision when a truck driver ran a red light. The case settled for the full limits of the trucking companies' insurance policy.

See also: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Truck Accidents

Tidwell v. Oh
Verdict $241,718

(Offer $100,000)
A 17-year-old girl was a passenger in a vehicle involved in a one-car crash in Colorado. The plaintiff sustained a de-gloving injury to her arm requiring surgery. The verdict was the highest reported verdict in the history of Morgan County, Colorado.

See also: Motor Vehicle Accidents

Gost v. Finney
Verdict $208,800

(Offer $10,000)
A 16-year-old girl was a passenger in a vehicle involved in a two-car crash. The plaintiff sustained back injury requiring medical treatment which cost $1,800.

See also: Motor Vehicle Accidents

Webb v. Dikcis Cab Company
Verdict $586,000

(Offer: None)
The case arose from a two-vehicle collision in which an uninsured drunk driver ran a red light and struck a cab in which the plaintiff was a passenger. Webb suffered a spinal cord injury that resulted in his death. At the time, Webb, who had AIDS, only had months to live. The jury found the cab company 25 percent responsible for its driver's decision to pull into the intersection without observing the approaching speeding car.

See also: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Spinal Cord Injury, Wrongful Death

Taylor v. Salvation Army
Settlement: $4,500,000

In October, 2003, Mr. Cavanagh obtained a $4.5 million wrongful death settlement for the family of a woman killed in a collision between a van and a semi tractor-trailer. The case settled immediately prior to jury selection after lengthy discovery.

See also: Wrongful Death

Santillana v. City of Chicago and Jesus Gomez
Verdict: $2,005,798

(Offer: None)
On December 12, 2003, Cook County Circuit Court Jury awarded Elizabeth Santillana $2 million in a hotly disputed wrongful death case. The case arose out of a "police pursuit" on July 18, 2000, that resulted in Dalia Santillana's death when her vehicle was struck by a car driven by a man fleeing a Chicago Police Department squad car engaged in a "police pursuit." Evidence was presented that the police officers "rammed" the Gomez vehicle causing it to lose control and cross the center line. City of Chicago rules on "police pursuits" outlined in General Order 97-3 specifically prohibit "ramming" by squad cars. A Cook County jury rejected the city of Chicago's position that it was not engaged in the pursuit at the time of the fatal collision. Because the city was found 25 percent at fault, it is responsible for the entire verdict amount. The city declined to make a settlement offer prior to trial.

See also: Wrongful Death

Imhof v. Loyola University Medical Center
Settlement: $1,450,000

This wrongful death case arose after a man was brought to Loyola for burn injuries but died when the doctors failed to treat him correctly.

See also: Wrongful Death

Shafer v. Wolin-Levin
Settlement: $3,000,000

A 32-year-old woman suffered an electrical shock in her kitchen because the landlord improperly wired an electrical outlet. The woman received an electric shock when she brushed her right hand across the surface of the microwave in her kitchen. As a result of the shock, Shafer suffers from Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome ("CRPS") in all four of her extremities.

The case settled on the eve of trial for $3 million.

See also: Products Liability

Munoz v. Mack Trucks, et al.
Settlement: $3,000,000

A 32-year-old employee at Waste Management suffered amputation of his leg below the knee after his leg was caught in between the arm and cab of a dump truck. A products liability lawsuit was filed alleging that the truck was designed defectively because the pinch point was not protected.

See also: Products Liability

Catala v. City of Chicago
Verdict $310,000

(Offer $0.00)
An adult female fell due to a sinkhole in the crosswalk at the intersection of Belmont and Western avenues, sustaining a spiral fracture of her femur requiring several surgeries. The city of Chicago that owned and maintained the crosswalk and street denied that it had any notice of the sinkhole.

See also: Premises Liability

Byrnes v. Care Centers, Inc.
Settlement: $900,000

The case stems from an incident that occurred at Wheaton Care Center nursing home on April 23, 2002, and resulted in the death of plaintiff's decedent, Adrienne Byrnes. Ms. Byrnes' death was caused by salicylate toxicity and it is believed that she consumed multiple aspirin tablets while at the Wheaton Care Center nursing home. Plaintiff alleges that defendants were storing, distributing, and supervising medications at the nursing home.

See Also: Nursing Home Negligence

The cases described above are just a few of the high-profile cases handled by our office over the past few years. If you have a question about a personal injury, wrongful death and medical malpractice legal matter, please contact the Cavanagh Law Group today.

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