On February 19, 2011, Ben Waring of Mathias Township, Michigan,
was killed when two tires separated from a
bus and struck his vehicle. The tragedy occurred in Racine, WI on Highway
20. At the time of the incident, Ben was driving in the westbound lane
with his fiancé Jessica Shega-Fox following in her vehicle behind him.
The bus was traveling opposite Ben and Jessica in the eastbound lane of
traffic. As the vehicles were passing each other, the driver’s side
rear-tires separated from the bus. The first tire struck Ben’s vehicle
while the second tire bounced in front of Jessica’s vehicle, narrowly
missing her. The bus then crossed the center line of Highway 20 causing
Jessica to maneuver her car to the shoulder to avoid hitting it.
The state police investigated the crash and determined that the lug-nuts
were stripped and loose, which caused the tires to separate from the bus.
The state police found the bus company to be at fault. According to applicable
federal regulations, the bus company was required to perform an inspection
before departing from Chicago on February 19, 2011.
The Plaintiffs are represented by
Todd A. Smith and
Sean M. Houlihan of Power, Rogers & Smith, L.L.P. of Chicago, Illinois. The suit asserts
claims for wrongful death and survival on behalf of the Estate of Ben
Waring. Specifically, the suit alleges that Rickey Raccoon Transportation,
Inc. (“RRTI”), the company that owned the bus, and Darius
Jones, the driver of the bus, negligently failed to maintain, service,
and inspect the bus’s tires and wheel assembly at RRTI’s facilities
in Chicago before departing for Wisconsin.
Additionally, a separate cause of action has been filed on behalf of Jessica
Shega-Fox for negligent infliction of emotional distress for the emotional
toll and post-traumatic stress she has suffered as a result of seeing
her fiancé killed and being exposed to extreme danger at the time
the tragedy occurred. Mr. Houlihan commented, “This tragedy was
entirely preventable. If the driver and the bus company properly performed
a simple, pre-trip inspection as required by Federal law, they would have
fixed the loose lug-nuts and Ben would be with us today.”
Recently, Defendants filed a motion requesting that Wisconsin law be applied
to the case instead of Illinois law. Defendants filed their motion in
an attempt to take advantage of the
damage caps imposed by Wisconsin law in order to dramatically reduce Plaintiff’s
recovery, as Illinois does not impose such caps.
Defendants premised their motion on the fact the Decedent was a temporary
resident of Wisconsin and the tragedy occurred in Wisconsin, despite the
fact that the Defendants are both domiciled in Illinois and the negligent
failure to maintain, service and inspect all occurred in Illinois. The
court properly denied Defendants’ motion and held that the lawsuit
will be governed by Illinois law.