$22.7 million awarded in fatal I-294 crash case
A $22.7 million judgment -- believed to be the largest wrongful-death verdict in Cook County in the past decade -- was awarded to the family of a 31-year-old Union man who was killed in a 2012 crash on I-294 just north of Roosevelt Road.
Authorities say Aaron Swenson was killed when a speeding truck driver, who had drugs in his system, slammed into the back of Swenson's car just before 8 a.m. on May 22, 2012. Swenson had been stopped in traffic while in a construction zone.
Adam Troy, of Hussman Corp. in Missouri, crashed into Swenson's car, crushing his vehicle into the truck in front of him, according to attorneys from Clifford Law Offices in Chicago, who represented Swenson's wife, Theresa ("Tracy"), in the wrongful-death lawsuit.
Tracy Swenson was pregnant with the couple's first child at the time of the crash, but a few weeks afterward she lost the baby.
"Not only did I lose my husband, but I also lost what would have been a lifetime of memories, happiness and family moments together," she said during a news conference Tuesday. "We were going to grow old together and watch our children grow. All of that has been taken from us."
Criminal charges against Troy are still pending, said attorney Colin Dunn, a partner at Clifford Law Offices.
Theresa Swenson sued Troy and the trucking company, and late Monday afternoon, after a two-week trial, the jury reached its verdict in just three hours. Their award included $10 million for grief and sorrow, $10 million for loss of society, and $2.7 million for economic loss.
"The case is a very sad one. The loss of this young husband and father was senseless," attorney Kevin P. Durkin, a partner at Clifford Law Offices, said in a statement after the verdict.
Neither Adam Troy nor anyone from Hussman's corporate office could be reached for comment Tuesday.
The attorneys and Swenson said they hope this case will be a wake-up call to companies that they need to monitor and screen their drivers more carefully, or else senseless loss can occur.
Since the accident, Tracy Swenson became an attorney and now lives in Chicago.