$70,000 Cook County Verdict for a Woman Knocked Down by Backing Up Car; Wilkins v. Solis



On April 25, 2008, Marie Wilkins, a teacher at Everest College, started walking toward the Metra train station at Michigan and Van Buren streets in Chicago. She was walking south across Van Buren Street, between State and Wabash, where Van Buren intersects midblock with an alley. The alley is also known as Holden Court in some parts of the Loop.


It was at this alley that she was hit by a backing vehicle traveling eastbound on the one-way westbound street. The car was being driven by the defendant Orlando Solis, 27, and was owned by the defendant, Cynthia Ayala, who was a passenger.


Wilkins, 60, was knocked to the ground, and she lost consciousness. She sustained a fractured scapula of her left shoulder and a fractured fifth metacarpal/little finger on her left hand. She also sustained elbow bursitis and a two-inch scar on her left knee. No surgery was necessary, but she did undergo physical therapy and lost three months of work as a medical assistant instructor plus $85,300 for lost opportunity to teach an additional class for a full course load for 4 years until the school closed.


At the time of the incident, Solis was attempting to reach an open parking space. Wilkins alleged that Solis was late for a 5:30 p.m. orientation meeting at Robert Morris College, and he drove the vehicle in reverse down Van Buren instead of going around the block, so he would not lose the parking space to someone else.


Solis, on the other hand, countered that he had only reversed 10-15 feet and never saw the plaintiff prior to the impact.


Defendants argued that the plaintiff should have been in a crosswalk and that it was reasonably foreseeable that a car would reverse down a one-way street for parallel parking. Ayala, who was insured by State Farm, had a $100,000 policy, and Solis was insured by Apollo Insurance with a $20,000 limit of insurance.


Solis had picked up Ayala from work before the accident, so the defendants admitted agency.


The plaintiff’s counsel, Patrick P. Clyder, reported that Solis testified that he stopped east of the alley before reversing to get the open parking space, while Ayala testified he stopped west of the alley before backing up. Wilkins argued that Ayala’s version was correct and Solis was not parallel parking if he had to drive in reverse at least the width of the alley before reaching a parking space.


The plaintiff’s negligent entrustment action against Ayala was withdrawn before the trial started. Solis had prior driving influence violations and he had his driver’s license suspended.


The jury’s verdict of $100,000 was reduced by 30 percent for the contributory negligence of Marie Wilkins.  The verdict of $70,000 was made up of the following damages against both of the defendants:


  • $18,226 for medical expenses;
  • $41,774 for lost wages;
  • $20,000 for pain and suffering;
  • $20,000 for loss of normal life;  and
  • $0 for disfigurement.


Before trial, a demand of $120,000, the policy limits, was made with an offer from the defendants at $55,867. At the end of the trial, the attorney for Wilkins asked the jury to return a verdict of $253,526.


Marie Wilkins v. Orlando Solis, Cynthia Ayala; 10 L 4591 (Cook County).


Kreisman Law Offices has been handling car accidents and truck accidents for more than 37 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Rolling Meadows, Evanston, Palos Hills, Orland Park, Tinley Park, Yorkville, Lyons, Schuamburg, Chicago (Belmont Craigin), Long Grove, Richton Park and Chicago (Jackson Park), Ill.

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