The family of a mother of six who died last year in a vehicle crash on Route 3 in Columbia is seeking more than $6.8 million from the state in a Court of Claims filing against the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The Illinois Court of Claims Act governs claims filed against the state government. Types of cases include breach of contract and claims of personal injury or similar civil wrongs.
The Illinois Court of Claims Act limits the state’s application of the rule of sovereign immunity.
“Sovereign immunity” dates back centuries to Great Britain, where the rule prevented individuals from suing the kingdom.
Bryan P. Webb, husband of the late Emily Webb, submitted two Court of Claims filings against IDOT for injuries and the death to his wife as part of the Illinois Wrongful Death Act and Illinois Survival Act based on “negligent and willful and wanton conduct” by IDOT in maintaining, managing, operating and controlling a traffic signal at the intersection of Veterans Parkway and Route 3 in Columbia.
On Feb. 27, 2018, a two-vehicle crash at that location resulted in the death of 41-year-old Emily Webb and injuries to her six children, who were all inside the vehicle.
The first Court of Claims filing, by Bryan Webb as administrator of Emily’s estate, is claiming $2,038,200 in damages.
The second Court of Claims filing, also by Bryan on behalf of his children Olivia, Samuel, Isaac, Audrey, Josiah and Levi Webb, is claiming $4,776,400 from the state for their injuries.
Medical expenses as of mid-February for Olivia were $707,129.21, the filing states. Medical expenses for Levi were $475,719.20.
The Court of Claims filings are in addition to wrongful death lawsuits filed by the Webb family in Monroe County Circuit Court against both the driver of the dump truck that struck Emily’s Chevrolet Suburban that day and IDOT.
In all, those civil suits seek more than $50,000 each on 42 counts alleging negligence by both defendants.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed a motion to dismiss IDOT from the wrongful death case in Monroe County, citing the additional Court of Claims filings.
“The doctrine of sovereign immunity deprives the circuit court of subject matter jurisdiction,” the dismissal motion states. “Plaintiff is aware their only avenue for recourse in this case is the Court of Claims.”
The wrongful death filing alleges Donald L. Eccher, 87, of Millstadt, was the driver of a 2000 Sterling dump truck that ran a red light and struck Emily’s 1999 Chevrolet Suburban.
According to the lawsuit and information released by Illinois State Police following an investigation into the crash, Webb was westbound on Veterans Parkway, stopped at a red light at the intersection with Route 3. When the light cycled to green, Webb proceeded into the intersection, where her Suburban was struck on the driver’s side by the dump truck driven northbound on Route 3 by Eccher.
According to the suit, Eccher caused the crash by failing to stop at the red light, failing to reduce speed to avoid the crash and failing to keep a proper lookout for vehicles lawfully on the roadway.
Both the Court of Claims and wrongful death filings allege negligence by IDOT in that the traffic signal for westbound traffic on Veterans Parkway failed to have a sufficiently long all-clearance red light that would have delayed Emily’s entry into the intersection.
The wrongful death filing alleges IDOT “had actual or constructive notice” that this traffic signal was not operating with a sufficiently long all-clearance red light.
Bryan Webb and his children are represented by Columbia attorney Stephen C. Buser.