Chicago O'Hare Airport

Jury Awards $148M to Young Woman Paralyzed by Collapsed Shelter at O’Hare Airport

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On a stormy day in August 2, 2015, Tierney Darden was standing with her mother and 19-year-old sister outside the Chicago O’Hare International Airport on a lower-level street that accesses Terminal 2. As they were waiting there to be picked up, a pedestrian shelter came loose and fell onto Darden. Her spinal cord was severed, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down.

Two years later, Darden, now 26 years old, was awarded a record $148 million from a jury verdict against the city. A former dance student, she remains “heartbroken” that she can no longer dance. She was also upset because she knew that the accident was preventable. It was determined the shelter that fell on Darden had missing bolts. An investigation later found that other shelters at O’Hare were also poorly maintained, with missing bolts, corroded parts or broken brackets.

The city of Chicago admitted liability for the conduct that caused Darden’s injuries and offered to pay $30 million to settle the case. Her lawyers asked for $95 million so the case went to trial. During the seven-day trial, city attorneys had said Darden deserved up to $34 million, while her attorneys asked for $174 million.

The verdict was the largest in a Cook County personal injury case. The city has not yet said if it plans to appeal the verdict. Read more about her case here in a Chicago Tribune article.

If you or someone you know or care for has been injured as the result of an airport terminal, airplane or other travel related accident and there are questions about what laws apply, e-mail or call us at ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. (703-796-9555) at once.