A woman dragged for 60 feet after she was struck by a truck on a Near West Side sidewalk has settled her suit for $35 million, a new Illinois record for pedestrian injuries.
Caelen M. Peshek, now 24, was carrying groceries home on Sept. 15, 2015, when a semitrailer heading north on South Ashland Avenue made a tight right turn onto West Roosevelt Road. The truck struck her, dragging her for 60 feet until a nearby University of Illinois at Chicago security guard came to her aid.
Peshek suffered pelvic injuries, her right ankle was crushed and both her legs were degloved. She currently wears a boot to walk, and both her legs are disfigured, said Clifford Law Offices partner Kevin P. Durkin, who, along with partner Robert A. Clifford and associate Tracy A. Brammeier, represented Peshek.
“It was about a complete change in the life of the plaintiff. She was an active runner athlete, and now she’s unfortunately in a dilemma where her right ankle has not healed 2½ years after,” Durkin said.
The $35 million settlement is a new record in Illinois for cases involving pedestrians, said John L. Kirkton of the Jury Verdict Reporter, a product of Law Bulletin Media. The previous record was a $29.1 million Cook County verdict in 1992 involving a child who lost both legs, Kirkton said.
The settlement with Hub Group Trucking, Inc. of Oak Brook and truck driver Said Mohamed Shire came seven days into a trial before Cook County Circuit Court Judge Thomas J. Lipscomb.
“This case was settled directly by the insurance carriers. We were not involved in negotiations. We were ready to try the case to verdict,” said Johnson & Bell Ltd. shareholder William V. Johnson, who, along with Johnson & Bell shareholder Jack J. Casciato and Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP partner Dan L. Boho, represented the defendants.
Representatives of Hub Group Trucking could not be reached for comment this morning.
Peshek, a student at Harper College, is looking to complete her education at a four-year school, Clifford said. Durkin said she wants to study occupational therapy “to help people like people helped her.”
Clifford said Peshek will pursue medical options to reduce the disfigurement to her legs.
“Her soft tissue was greatly contaminated by the dragging, so a lot of the physicians are afraid of doing anything positive for her cosmetically,” Clifford said. “Now that she’s got the resources to do so, she’s going to pursue that.”
The case is Caelen M. Peshek v. Hub Group Trucking, Inc., et al., 15 L 10163.