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Jury awards $9m damages against utility firm after cyclist seriously injured on bike path ‘demolished’ by its workers

ComEd employees parked their trucks on bike path, resulting in Andrew Farley sustaining a traumatic brain injury when he crashed on it

A jury in the United States has awarded $9 million in damages against a major utility company after a cyclist sustained life-changing injuries when he crashed on a bike path that had been damaged when the company’s workers park their trucks on it.

Andrew Farley, from Lake in the Hills, Illinois, has spent several years undergoing psychological treatment after sustaining what his lawyers describe as a “mild traumatic brain injury” as a result of the crash, which happened in November 2016.

Chicago-based firm Romanucci & Blandin, which says that the amount of damages is a record high amount to be awarded by a jury in McHenry County, says that workers for Commonwealth Edison – widely known as ComEd, and the largest electricity supplier in Illinois, had parked their trucks on a bike path in Lake in the Hills while swapping electricity poles.

The law firm says that the workers lifted the replacement poles into place, “inadvertently demolishing the path beneath them.”

Following his crash, Mr Farley spent five days in hospital, and claimed against ComEd for negligence, saying that his traumatic brain injury had “aggravated prior cognitive, social, and emotional deficits caused by his pre-existing conditions of Chron’s disease, hypertension, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.”

Following the jury’s verdict on Wednesday, Romanucci & Blandin partner Bruno R Marasso said: “ComEd had the duty to leave that bike path in a safe condition for the public who had the freedom to use that path.

“Because of ComEd’s negligent actions, Mr. Farley will never have the same cognitive, emotional, and social abilities as he did before this incident, and we are honoured that twelve jurors recognised ComEd’s improper actions and provided justice to Andrew and his wife.

Fellow partner at the firm, Michael R Grieco, said: “One of the key points we stressed in this trial was that this life-changing incident never had to happen.

“It was completely preventable and ComEd had the responsibility to complete the work at this location by properly returning the bike path to a reasonable condition for residents like Mr. Farley to use without suffering significant psychological injuries.

“It is the responsibility of a company to do the careful thing and respect the lives and well-being of the community at each work site.”

It’s the second lawsuit brought against ComEd that we have reported upon this year. In January, we reported how the parents of a three-year-old child who was killed by a lorry driver in Chicago as her parents were forced to move out of a cycle lane due to a ComEd truck being parked there are suing both companies, as well as the city of Chicago, for wrongful death.

> Family sues lorry companies and city after toddler killed when parents moved into road to avoid truck parked in bike lane

Elizabeth Grace ‘Lily’ Shambrook was travelling in the child seat of her mother Kate Snow’s bicycle as they rode along a cycle lane in Chicago but had to move out into the road due to what they claim was an illegally parked ComEd truck blocking their path at a traffic light.

Moving out of the lane meant they found themselves next to an articulated lorry belonging to global food industry giant Mondelez, and when the driver of that vehicle moved away from the traffic lights, he knocked Ms Snow and her bike over, with Lily crushed beneath the rear wheels of the vehicle.

A wrongful death suit filed in Cook County against ComEd, Mondelez and Penske Truck Leasing, which employed the lorry driver, is ongoing.

The parents are also suing the City of Chicago, for “wilful and wanton misconduct” for what they claim was its failure to monitor ComEd’s actions after issuing it a city permit, and for failing to effectively protect and separate cyclists using the bike lane from other traffic.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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hawkinspeter | 9 months ago
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I hope companies start to get the message that cycle lanes aren't just a free parking area.

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