A $10.9 million settlement was reached in a wrongful death lawsuit over the death of an Illinois state trooper. The trooper was struck and killed by a truck driver who allegedly fell asleep while driving.
Elizabeth Sauter, Trooper James Sauter’s widow, filed the lawsuit against the truck driver and the companies he was working for at the time of the March 2013 accident.
The driver was also criminally charged in Cook County for violating federal hours-of-service regulations. According to prosecutors, he dozed off on the Tri-State Tollway on March 28, striking the trooper after working a 12-hour shift.
Records from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration show that the driver and United Van Lines were fined $2,500 and $5,500, respectively, for violating a federal regulation prohibiting a driver from being on duty over 14 hours without taking 10 hours of rest time.
Judge Kathy M. Flanagan of Cook County Circuit Court approved the settlement after the parties reached an agreement in pre-trial mediation.
According to allegations in the lawsuit, Sauter’s squad car was parked on the left shoulder of Interstate 294. The truck driver was driving a semitrailer in the left lane when he fell asleep. The semi veered off the road, crashing into Sauter’s vehicle, the lawsuit alleged. According to court records, the truck driver worked from 6:31 a.m. to 6:32 p.m. that day loading the truck, then drove from 7:14 p.m. to 7:34 p.m., and again from 8:49 p.m. until the time of the crash at 11:03 p.m.