In the largest personal injury award in the history of Cook County, a jury awarded $148 million to Tierney Darden, a dancer who was left paralyzed waist down when a bus shelter collapsed and trapped her during a storm in 2015.

Tierney, who was studying at Truman College then, filed a case against the city of Chicago holding it responsible for the accident that happened at the O’Hare International Airport. The city wanted to settle the matter with a $22 million offer but Tierney Darden’s lawyer refused.

Darden’s lawyer demanded $175 million as compensation for the pain, suffering, loss of income, and medical expenses for his client. The Darden family testified and presented their side of the story, elaborating on her constant pain and round-the-clock care required. Video evidence was placed in front of the jury.

Darden’s attorney Patrick Salvi said, “Tierney and her family and her entire trial team are very, very grateful for the jury’s service and their recognition of the catastrophic nature of her injury and the fact that this verdict is going to make a real difference for this sweet young lady.”

The city, understandably was not too pleased, and released a statement about exploring further legal options. The city also reassured citizens that the money would not be recovered through taxes and that the amount was covered by insurance.
The shelter collapse led to dislocation of vertebrae at T11-T12 and resulted in a spinal cord injury that left Tierney Darden paralyzed.