John W. Patton Jr.
John W. Patton Jr.
Patrick A. Salvi
Patrick A. Salvi

A 47-year-old Lombard woman has received a $14 million settlement for spinal injuries sustained when her car collided with a semitrailer.

Attorneys reached the settlement just before a Cook County jury awarded the woman a $17.9 million verdict, a total the lawyers had already agreed to decrease by 30 percent due to plaintiff liability, which would have cut the total to $12.6 million.

On Oct. 23, 2012, junior high school teacher Teresa Burns was driving west on Cermak Road in Hillside while an employee of New Bern Transport Corp. was driving east on Cermak and preparing to turn left onto Wolf Road.

Burns entered the intersection of Cermak and Wolf on a yellow light. The driver made his turn while Burns was passing through the intersection, striking her vehicle.

Burns — a married mother of a 9-year-old girl — suffered a spinal injury that led to interference with bladder functions, necessitating self-catheterization.

Though Burns is able to walk without assistance, she is unable to return to work.

During discovery, attorneys agreed on a division of liability, with Burns 30 percent liable. The jury was not told about the split.

Plaintiff attorneys Patrick A. Salvi, Patrick A. Salvi II and Brian L. Salvi of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. requested that the jury award about $47 million to Burns and her husband, with $7.83 million in economic damages and $39.25 million in non-economic damages.

Defense attorneys John W. Patton Jr. and Jennifer M. Martin of Patton & Ryan LLC asked the jury to award the plaintiff $3.5 million to $5.5 million.

Meanwhile, the two sides negotiated a settlement with Donald P. O’Connell mediating.

The plaintiff attorneys asked for $21.5 million. The defense offered $4 million, followed by $9 million and then $10 million.

Prior to the verdict, the two sides reached a $14 million settlement.

“We were satisfied all the way around,” said Patrick A. Salvi. “We were satisfied with the settlement, we got our day in court in terms of our jury verdict, and Teresa will not have any appeals or anything like that. She will be fully compensated.”

The defense was also satisfied.

“With the 30 percent comparative reduction and the jury’s rejection of the lottery-type numbers being asked by the plaintiff, we were certainly pleased with the final result,” Patton said.

The jury awarded $1.68 million for past and future earnings lost; $4.46 million for past and future medical expenses; $30,000 for past necessary help; $500,000 for disfigurement; $1 million for risk of harm; $1.25 million for past and future emotional distress; $4 million for past and future pain and suffering; and $5 million for past and future loss of a normal life.

Circuit Judge Clare Elizabeth McWilliams presided over the case, which ended last week. The case is Teresa Burns and Robert Burns v. New Bern Transport Corp., etc., No. 12 L 14323.