On Sunday, October 12, 2003, Kathryn Kuk, Steven Kuk and Megan Kuk were passengers on a Metra train (2 locomotives and 5 passenger cars) that was transporting passengers from Chicago to Joliet, Illinois. Steve had just run the marathon that day and his wife, Kathryn and daughter, Megan were there to help Steve celebrate the achievement. They boarded Metra train 519 and headed home.
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 suffered multiple injuries, including severe lower back injuries resulting in Grade II spondylolisthesis at L-5, S-1. The injury required two fusion surgeries to her low back.
Due to the debilitating nature of her back pain, Ms. Kuk has also had to have a permanent spinal cord pain stimulator implanted. To this day, Ms. Kuk continues to suffer debilitating pain in her low back. Megan and Steve had minor injuries that required only a few doctor appointments.
In 2005, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a Final Report finding that the derailment was caused by "human error" when the Metra engineer was distracted. Metra admitted liability for the crash.
On August 13, 2012, nearly nine years after the train derailment, 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 attorney presented numerous doctors who testified about the injuries, surgeries and debilitating condition. On the 5th day of trial the parties settled for $1.8 million. Cavanagh and Rundio were prepared to present 198 exhibits detailing the derailment and the injuries Ms. Kuk suffered.
On September 14, 2012, the Metra Board approved the settlement amount. This settlement concludes all litigation resulting from the 2003 derailment.
The case is titled Kathryn Kuk, Steven Kuk and Megan Kuk v. Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Authority d/b/a Metra, Court No. 03 L 12503. Metra was represented by Mike Kujawa and Tom Osran of Judge, James & Kujawa. Mr. Cavanagh stated: "The Kuk's are pleased that this matter has been resolved."