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On July 29, 2000, Robert Walton, an employee of Carter’s Excavating & Grading, was driving a tractor-trailer dump truck on the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago with the 80,000-pound dump hauler portion of the truck in the up position. When the truck reached an overpass, the dump trailer struck it and was ripped from the tractor. Its massive load then fell on top of a cargo van containing a team of five workers for the city of Chicago who were transporting an inflatable playground to the city’s north side. Two of the passengers of the cargo van, Genesis Bryant, 22, and Krystal Powe, 19, suffered massive injuries and died hours later. The driver of the van, Albert Garner, then 31, suffered a compression fracture of a vertebra and was rendered quadriplegic. The other two passengers in the van, Malcolm Bryant and Wayne Osborne, suffered less severe injuries. The estates of Bryant and Powe, along with Garner, Bryant and Osborne, sued Carter’s Excavating & Grading, charging that Walton’s negligence in driving a too-high load beneath the overpass caused the injuries. Byrant and Osborne settled their claims, leaving the actions of the other plaintiffs for trial. Carter’s admitted liability, but contested damages. Prior to trial, the defense had offered to settle for $5 million, the extent of Carter’s insurance. At trial, the offer increased to $12 million for Garner, $2 million for Bryant and $3.5 million for Powe. On March 21, a Chicago jury awarded $51.8 million to Garner, including $20 million in future medical care and $14 million for future disability; $8 million to the Powe estate, including $6 million for loss of society to her 2-year-old daughter; and $3.6 million to the Bryant estate. Despite the $5 million cap on Carter’s insurance, the plaintiffs hope to do better because the city of Chicago had acquired underinsured motorists coverage for the van in which the plaintiffs were riding. Plaintiffs’ attorneys: John B. Kralovec of Kralovec, Jambois & Schwartz in Chicago; Michael Mullen of the Law Offices of Paul B. Episcope in Chicago. Defense attorney: Martin Kanofsky of Merlo, Kanofsky & Brinkmeier in Chicago.

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