A wrongful death lawsuit involving a seven-year-old girl who witnessed her mother being run over by a Greyhound bus has returned to Cook County Circuit Court after more than a decade and more than 25 appeals.
Its legal twists involve allegations of improper conduct by judges, among other factors.
In 2013, the Illinois Appellate Court invalidated a $2.1 million settlement in the lawsuit, which had previously been valued at more than $8 million. The appeals court sent the case back to the Circuit Court, making the unusual finding that there had been unsound rulings by Judge Daniel Locallo, and that Judge William Maddux should not be involved in the reassignment of the case to a new judge.
Maddux had earlier acknowledged a “substantial” conflict of interest because his personal attorney was involved in the lawsuit. However, Maddux did not disqualify himself.
In December, Maddux reassigned the case randomly to Judge James Flannery, Jr. The attorney for the plaintiff objected, saying that the appeals court had instructed that Maddux have no involvement in reassigning the case.
Cristina Zvunca and her mother, Claudia Zvunca, immigrated to Chicago from Romania. In January 2002, they were waiting to reboard a Chicago-bound Greyhound bus after visiting family in Nevada and California. When the bus began moving, Claudia mistakenly believed it was leaving without them and ran to stop it. She was struck and killed. Another passenger grabbed Cristina and pulled her to safety.
Cristina was seven years old when her mother was killed. She plans to enroll in college this year.