Record verdict for bike-path accident

By Kevin Beese Staff Writer

A McHenry County jury returned a record $9.05 million verdict for a Lake in the Hills man injured in a 2016 bike-path accident. The jury ruled that ComEd was liable for damaging the bike path during a pole-replacement project. (McHenry County photo)

A Lake in the Hills man has been awarded a record-high plaintiff’s verdict for McHenry County.

Andrew Farley was awarded $9.05 million for a traumatic brain injury and other ailments sustained in a 2016 bike-path accident.

The verdict was against ComEd for damaging the path during a utility pole project.

Farley had claimed that unbeknownst to him, ComEd had damaged the bike path on which he was riding his bike in November 2016.

ComEd personnel had parked their utility trucks on the bike path near Miller and Lakewood roads in Lake in the Hills during a pole swap-out project where they lifted the utility poles in place, and inadvertently demolished the path beneath them, according to attorneys for Farley.

Farley was riding his bicycle on the path, hit the damaged asphalt, and was ejected over the handlebars of his bike. He hit his head on the pavement and suffered a mild traumatic brain injury.

He was hospitalized for five days and has undergone years of psychological treatment since the injury, according to his lawyers with Romanucci & Blandin, LLC. The plaintiff claimed the mild TBI aggravated prior cognitive, social and emotional deficits caused by his pre-existing conditions of Crohn’s disease, hypertension, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

The case, which was in the Circuit Court of McHenry County, resulted in a jury verdict on Wednesday, Aug. 9.

ComEd was the only defendant in the case, against whom the plaintiff claimed a legal count of negligence.

“We are very proud to have obtained this verdict for the Farley family after the debilitating emotional distress this man experienced after this bike crash,” said Bruno Marasso, partner with Romanucci & Blandin. “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 honored that 12 jurors recognized ComEd’s improper actions and provided justice to Andrew and his wife.”

“One of the key points we stressed in this trial was that life-changing incident never had to happen,” said Michael Grieco, another Romanucci & Blandin partner. “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.”

A ComEd spokesperson said the verdict is hard for the company to accept.

“We are disappointed in the verdict as we do not believe ComEd was liable for the accident and alleged injuries,” said Shannon Breymaier, communications director for the utility company. “We are currently evaluating our options, which may include appeal.”