Case Resolved by:  Verdict _XX_  Settlement___  Mediation___  Arbitration___

Full Case Name:

TRACY POWELL, individually and as Special Administrator of the ESTATE OF ADAM McDONALD, deceased, and GEORGE KAKIDAS, individually and as the Special Administrator of the ESTATE OF DIANA KAKIDAS, deceased, and ALEXANDER CHANKONAS, Special Administrator of the ESTATE OF CHRISTINA CHAKONAS, deceased V. DEAN FOODS COMPANY, ALCO OF WISCONSIN, INC., ALDER GROUP, INC. and JAIME L. REEVES


Circuit Court of Cook County, Law Division

Case Number:

03-L-015077 consolidated with 03-L-016261


Honorable Patricia Banks

Plaintiff Attorney:

The Healy Law Firm represented the Estate of Adam McDonald and the Estate of Diana Kakidas, Muldoon and Muldoon represented the Estate of Christina Chokanas

Significant Legal Issues or Holdings:

Whether the driver of the tractor trailer was an agent of Dean Foods Company.  While the driver was an employee of the Alder Group, the question of control by Dean was a determinative.

Whether the conduct of the driver of the Pontiac Grand Am was more than 50% responsible for the deaths.

Whether Defendants were 25% or more responsible for the deaths.

Plaintiff Characteristics:  age, work history, earnings, family, etc.

The three decedents were all 17-year-olds.  They were about to begin their senior year in high school.

Liability Facts:

The collision occurred at an intersection of a divided four lane highway and a side road on a Saturday night, July 6, 2002. There was a key dispute about speed. Based on reconstruction and black box (DDEC) interpretations, Plaintiffs alleged the tractor trailer driver was going 49 mph in a 40 mph zone at impact. Based on another DDEC  interpretation, and the testimony of the Defendant driver, Defendants argued the truck was going 37 mph at impact. Defendants also argued that the truck had the right-of-way, that the other driver failed to stop or yield at the stop sign, and that the car's headlights may not have been on.

Describe Physical Injuries by Plaintiff:

All three teenagers died in the collision.

Describe Special Damages by Plaintiff:

No doctor or hospital bills claimed.

Plaintiff Experts & Specialty (Name/Address/Phone)

R. Matthew Brach, PhD. PE (Accident Reconstruction)

Brach Engineering, LLC

50515 Mercury Drive

Granger, Indiana  46530-8501


Defense Experts & Specialty (Name/Address/Phone)

Steven W. Rickard (Accident Reconstruction)

Steven W. Rickard and Associates

1644 Whitley Drive

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania  17111


Donald L. Hess (Trucking Regulations)

DLH Associates

1301 48th Street

Quincy, Illinois  62305


Neil Liptak (Model Maker)

19810 Tanglewood Drive

Elwood, Illinois  60421


Michael Rogers, PE

(Accident Reconstruction for Plaintiff, Chakonas)

Packer Engineering, Inc.

1950 North Washington Street

Naperville, Illinois  60563


Comments:  (Please add additional page(s) if necessary)

Illinois law applied in this case.  In Illinois if a plaintiff is more than 50% responsible for the injuries, there is no recovery for that plaintiff.  Also, if a co-defendant is less than 25% responsible for the injuries, considering all those responsible for the injuries, there is no joint responsibility for the entire award but rather several responsibility for the party’s specific percentage of negligence only.  The jury found the truck driver 60% responsible and the driver of the car (Chakonas) 40% responsible.  Initial reports placed responsibility on the driver of the Grand Am.  The parents of the three teenagers were relieved with the finding that the truck driver was mostly at fault.  As quoted in the front page headlines of the Chicago Sun Times, the father of teenage driver said, “To know it wasn’t all her fault means everything.”

As submitting plaintiff’s attorney, I certify that the facts contained herein are true and accurate and hereby give permission to APITLAmerica® to publish this account of this case in any place they so choose, including, but not limited to, at APITLAmerica® CLEs, in any APITLAmerica® literature, on the APITLAmerica® website, in the APITLAmerica® newsletter, and in any books, articles, Powerpoints, presentations, and in any other means or method of publication or transmission in the total discretion of APITLAmerica®.  Furthermore, by my signature below, I also hereby release and provide to APITLAmerica® any copyrights to the information contained in this case report, and warrant that no other copyrights have been given to any other entity for this material.

Submitted by:

Plaintiff Attorney:

Martin J. Healy, Jr., The Healy Law Firm

Phone:                                                   Fax:

312/977-0100                            312/977-0795


111 West Washington Street, Suite 1425

Email Address:


Chicago, Illinois  60602


Putting the Brakes on Unsafe Trucking Companies