On August 23, 2012, Gregory Conforti received a “not guilty” verdict in favor of the defendants, Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, Inc. and driver Nicholas Pane from a Cook County jury. The case involved an accident between a truck and a bicyclist. The plaintiff alleged that she sustained a severe de-gloving injury to her left foot while riding her bike to work after being run over by defendants’ truck as it made a right turn. The plaintiff submitted specials totaling approximately $82,000. The plaintiff’s attorney suggested a verdict in excess of $1 million in closing arguments based on her specials, past and future pain and suffering, and past and future disfigurement and disability.
The accident at issue occurred at approximately 6:50 a.m. the morning of October 16, 2007 at the southeast corner of the intersection of Western and Madison in Chicago, Illinois. At this location, Western was divided into two northbound and 2 southbound lanes, with each direction also having a left turn lane. The northbound lane closest to the curb was nearly twice as wide as the other northbound lane due to the presence of a bus stop, but there was no marked designation for right turns. It was controlled by a traffic signal and there were no restrictions for turning on a red light. Sunrise was not until 7:04 a.m. that morning. The driver was en route to make a delivery to a convenience store located on Madison just east of Western. The plaintiff was riding her bicycle to work. The Dreyer’s driver was stopped at the red light in the northbound lane of Western closest to the curb waiting to make his right turn onto Madison. Plaintiff was slowing to a stop for the same red light as she rode northbound on Western just to the right of vehicular traffic in the same lane when the light turned green. She did not come to a complete stop prior to the light changing; she accelerated again in order to proceed straight through the intersection. At the same time, the Dreyer’s driver began to execute his right turn onto Madison. Before he could complete his turn, out of the corner of his eye, he saw people standing on the north side of Madison holding their hands up in a manner that indicated they wanted him to stop. The Dreyer’s driver immediately stopped, exited the truck and found the plaintiff lying partially under the truck.
The plaintiff contended that the Dreyer’s truck’s taillights were illuminated but the right turn signal was not activated so she assumed the truck was going to proceed straight through the intersection rather than turning right. She contended that although it was just before sunrise, it was light out enough that she could have been seen, especially with the presence of several street lights at the intersection.
The Dreyer’s driver claimed he had his right turn signal on with his truck positioned at an angle in order to indicate his intent to turn right to others approaching his truck from the rear. He further claimed It was still dark out with light rain, mist and cloudiness at or near the time of the occurrence. Dreyer’s contended there was nothing its driver could have done to avoid this accident because the plaintiff was not visible to him when he checked his mirrors before turning because it was dark and she was wearing dark clothing and riding in his blind spot before sunrise. Further, the Dreyer’s driver could not see the plaintiff because, in violation of state and local laws, she did not have a forward-facing light illuminated on her bicycle while riding in the dark.