A Cook County, Illinois Appellate Court decided that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied the City of Chicago’s motion for new trial after a jury awarded $17.7 Million to a Romanucci & Blandin client who was severely injured when a police vehicle struck him from rear. There was sufficient evidence for jury to conclude that the officer, who testified that she entered expressway in order to be able to provide assistance, if necessary, to officers in pursuit of fleeing suspect, was not engaged in the enforcement of any laws at the time that she struck plaintiffs vehicle; thereby defeating Citys defense of Tort Immunity Act.
Further, there was sufficient evidence for jury to find that officer, who apparently lost control of her vehicle when it jumped 4 lanes and spun 180 degrees, was guilty of willful and wanton negligence. The finding was supported by properly admitted testimony of reconstruction expert and illustrated by computer simulation. In addition, plaintiffs counsel, in closing argument could properly argue that evidence supported answer of no to special interrogatory asking whether officer was engaged in law enforcement; and issues instruction with regards to willful and wanton negligence was not misleading.