SYCAMORE – DeKalb County Board members will vote this week on whether to approve a settlement agreement with a woman who fell down the front courthouse steps and sustained severe injuries in 2016.
According to the meeting’s agenda, County Board members serving on the county’s executive committee will consider approving the $27,500 settlement agreement in the Debbie Hucher v. County of DeKalb court case during their Wednesday night meeting. The executive committee meeting is expected to immediately follow the County Board 7 p.m. Committee of the Whole meeting, with both meetings taking place in a hybrid setting at 200 N. Main St. in Sycamore and online via Zoom.
Hucher – who was at the courthouse at about 9:30 a.m. Feb. 23, 2016 for a family member’s court proceeding – sued the county in 2017, claiming the county was liable for her injuries suffered from the 4-foot elevation fall, according to court records. The then-Gurnee woman’s legal counsel claimed the fall was a direct result of a lack of handrails for the center of the front courthouse steps and initially requested at least $50,000 from the county, court documents read.
“[Hucher] sustained severe and permanent bodily injuries, including injuries to her right foot, head, and internal injuries, including multiple strokes and infections,” Hucher’s legal counsel wrote in court documents. “And, as a result of said injuries, suffered great pain and mental anguish and will continue to suffer great pain and anguish.”
Hucher’s counsel also wrote in the documents there was no signage or safety tape on the landing to warn patrons of the steps coming out of the courthouse.
Hucher spent “diverse sums of money” for medical care and treatment for her injuries, court documents read. The injuries also prevented her from “attending to her normal affairs and duties,” according to the documents.
County officials denied the allegations from Hucher’s lawyers and “demands strict proof thereof,” according to court documents. The county’s legal counsel also previously filed a motion to dismiss the case which was not granted by the court, per court records.
“Before [Hucher] fell, [Hucher] actually knew, or through the exercise of ordinary care for her own safety should have known, of the presence of the aforementioned steps [and hand railings],” the county’s counsel wrote. “At all times relevant to this case, there were no defects or hazardous conditions at or near the location of the steps or the sidewalks at the top and bottom levels of the steps.”
However, both parties filed a joint status and settlement report to the court on April 19, according to court records. There was no mention of the $27,500 amount within the report.
The case is due back in court May 17, according to court documents.