$20.2 Million Judgment Entered Against Dean Foods and Tractor-Trailer Driver for the Death of three Teenagers on 4th of July Weekend

Chicago, Illinois: A Cook County jury awarded a total of $20.2 million to three families whose children were killed when their Pontiac Grand Am was struck by a Dean Foods tractor-trailer in an intersection in Indiana. The driver of the Grand Am was found 40% liable for the failure to yield at a stop sign. The Dean truck was traveling east on U.S. 30 in Northern Indiana when it collided with the Grand Am going north on Lincoln Street in Wanatah, Indiana. Lincoln Street is controlled by a stop sign. The jury awarded $8,000,000 each to the families of the two passengers, Diana Kakidas, 17, of St. John, Indiana and Adam McDonald, 17, of Lansing, Illinois and $7,000,000 to the family of the driver of the Grand Am, Christina Chakonas, 17, of Dier, Indiana, which was reduced by 40% for Christina’s contributory negligence to $4,200,000.

On July 6, 2002, at approximately 10:30 p.m., Christina attempted to make a left hand turn from Lincoln Street onto U.S. Route 30. While making the turn she was hit by a tractor-trailer operated by Jaime Reeves. At the time of the accident, according to a recording module on the truck Reeves was driving 9.5 miles over the posted speed limit of 40mph. It was also claimed that he was over the federally mandated hours of service for the week. The defense, using the same module argued he was going 37 mph. The defense also contended that Christina failed to stop at the stop sign on Lincoln street, failed to yield the right of way, and did not have her headlights on.

All three plaintiffs filed suit against Jaime Reeves, the driver of the tractor-trailer, The Alder Group, Inc. and Alco of Wisconsin, Inc., his employers, as well as Dean Foods Company, on whose behalf he was transporting milk at the time of the accident. Dean Foods denied that Reeves was its agent.

At trial, all parties presented expert testimony interpreting event recorders on both the tractor-trailer and the Grand Am. The plaintiffs contended the event recorders on the tractor-trailer showed the driver of the tractor-trailer was speeding. The defense contended the event recorder on the Grand Am showed that the driver failed to stop at the stop sign, and that the driver of the tractor-trailer was actually traveling under the speed limit before the collision.

Martin Healy, Jr., and David Huber of Healy Scanlon Law Firm represented the estate of the passengers, Diana Kakidas and Adam McDonald. Michael Muldoon and John Muldoon of Muldoon & Muldoon represented the estate of the driver of the Grand Am, Christina Chakonas. Alton Haynes, Brian O’Neill and Alexander Muhtaris of Haynes, Studnicka, Kahan, O’Neill & Miller, LLC represented Dean Foods Company, the Alder Group, Inc., Alco of Wisconsin, Inc. and Jaime Reeves.

Judge Patricia Banks presided over the trial which began on October 10, 2007 and ended on Friday afternoon, November 2, 2007.

For Further Information Kindly Call:
Martin Healy, Jr.
Healy Scanlon Law Firm