In settlements just approved by Judge Rebecca Foley in McLean County, two wrongful death cases were resolved for a total of $4,050,000. Shirley Jones, 78, and Kristine Trudeau, 66, were passengers in a car driven by Shirley’s husband, John Jones, in Villa Grove, Douglas County, IL. It was dark and the Jones vehicle rear-ended a skid steer loader being driven on the 55 mph two lane road by an employee of Stark Equipment Co. The crash occurred December 7, 2018. Bruce Pfaff of Pfaff, Gill & Ports, Ltd. of Chicago represented both estates.
The skid-steer should not have been on the road at the time of the crash. It did not have legally required lights and it did not have a slow-moving vehicle sign to alert motorists approaching from the rear of its existence on a dark, unlighted road. The skid-steer gave no warning of its presence as shown in this scene photo:
Plaintiffs alleged that the skid steer’s driver and employer were negligent for these statutory violations:
a. They operated the skid steer loader on a roadway without a slow-moving vehicle emblem, in violation of 625 ILCS 12-709; or
b. They operated the skid steer loader on a roadway after sunset without a flashing amber signal visible to the rear in violation of 625 ILCS 12-205.1.
State Farm contributed its $100,000 policy limit to settle each claim made against the Estate of John Jones, and the insurers for Stark Equipment Co. paid the remainder of the settlements.
Two mediation sessions were presided over by retired Judge Hollis Webster to reach the settlements.
Estate of Shirley Jones and Estate of Kristine Trudeau v. Stark Excavating Co., et al., Circuit Court, McLean County, 20 L 30.