August 15, 2022
Local News

Record: Woman gets $50,000 to settle car crash lawsuit against mayor

The insurer for the City of Joliet paid a woman $50,000 to settle her lawsuit against Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, who crashed into her car while driving his stepdaughter to school in a city vehicle.

Falana Turner was paid $50,000 by Gallagher Bassett, the city’s insurance company, and dropped her claims against O’Dekirk and the city, according to a settlement and release document obtained by The Herald-News through a Freedom of Information Act request.

On Jan. 29, Turner filed a lawsuit against O’Dekirk and the city over a car crash that occurred Feb. 5, 2018. O’Dekirk made an improper left turn and hit Turner’s car while driving his stepdaughter to school in a city car he took home the night before.

O’Dekirk later pleaded guilty to making the improper turn. He received court supervision and was fined $250 for the crash.

Turner claimed in her lawsuit that O’Dekirk was negligent and careless in causing the crash. She also claimed the city of Joliet was “vicariously liable” for his actions because of his relationship with the city.

Turner was taken to Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center complaining of head pain after the incident.

Turner’s lawsuit was dismissed by Will County Judge John Anderson on May 30 because a settlement had been reached between the parties. The court order said the settlement “was not entered via voluntary mediation.”

The release of Turner’s claims and the $50,000 payment are “not to be construed as an admission of liability, all liability being expressed denied,” according to the settlement and release document signed by Turner May 30.

Interim City Attorney Chris
Regis said city officials did not have any conversation with Turner or her attorney, Andrea Torgrimson, about the settlement.

“We never talked to them,” Regis said.

When asked why the settlement was not publicly disclosed
earlier, Regis said the city "is not a party to the settlement."

Torgrimson said Joliet’s insurance company offered to settle the lawsuit on behalf of O’Dekirk and the city.

When asked why the Gallagher Bassett offered the settlement, Regis said the insurer would have to be asked that question.

Anderson initially dismissed the suit after neither party appeared for a case management conference.

Torgrimson later appeared in court to have the case dismissed because a settlement had been reached, not because the parties failed to appear.

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver covers crime and courts for The Herald-News