School van strikes crossing guard

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Case in Point

January 28, 2014

School van strikes crossing guard 

The crossing guard sued the van’s driver, alleging she was negligent in failing to keep a proper lookout, yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian, and sound her horn, among other claims. Suit against the school and its parent company alleged respondeat superior liability. The parties settled for $1.57 million. Strzyz v. LaPetite Acad., Inc.

Dale Strzyz, a 59-year-old police officer, was assigned crossing guard duty at a local school. As Strzyz was standing in the intersection directing traffic, Mary Moore, operating a small school van for LaPetite Academy, Inc., turned into the intersection. The van’s driver side mirror hit Strzyz in the head. She fell forward, striking her face and head on the road.

Strzyz suffered a concussion with a subarachnoid hemorrhage; fractures to her nose, right sinus, right eye socket, and left wrist; and facial lacerations and abrasions. She also suffered pain in her right knee and wrist and neck strain. After continued complaints of pain in her left wrist, she was diagnosed with a triangular fibrocartilage complex tear and ulnocarpal and radiocarpal synovitis—inflammation of the linings of those joints. She underwent debridement of the tear and a synovectomy—removal of the joint linings. Her past medical expenses totaled about $185,000.

Strzyz continues to feel pain in her face, neck, back, hips, and knees, and she suffers permanent effects of post-concussive syndrome, including memory loss, vertigo, and dizziness. She may benefit from future psychological counseling and physical therapy for her balance issues.

At the time of the incident, Strzyz was earning about $44,700 annually. She had hoped to work to age 64, but she is unable to return to work. She incurred at least $178,900 in lost earnings.

Strzyz sued Moore, alleging that she was negligent in failing to keep a proper lookout, yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian in the roadway, and sound her horn. The plaintiff also alleged that Moore was driving too fast for traffic conditions and failed to slow down in time to avoid striking Strzyz. Suit against LaPetite Academy and its parent company alleged liability under respondeat superior for Moore’s negligence.

The parties settled for $1.57 million, paid by the defendants’ joint insurer.

Citation: Strzyz v. LaPetite Acad., Inc., No. 12 L 301 (Ill., Lake Co. Cir. Nov. 19, 2013).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Michelle M. Kohut, Chicago.

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