‘So grateful,’ says nurse injured in Indiana crash, awarded $43.5M in first in-person Cook County civil trial since start of pandemic

·2 min read

A woman who suffered “traumatic” injuries that ended her 25-year nursing career when she was rear-ended by a truck five years ago in Indiana was awarded $43.5 million in the first in-person civil trial held in Cook County since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

After nearly four hours of deliberating, the jury returned its verdict Thursday afternoon at the Daley Center for the woman and her husband in a suit against the truck driver and his employer.

A spokesperson for the Cook County chief judge’s office confirmed the case was the first completed in-person civil trial following the courts’ reopening in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cynthia Kroft and her husband, Mark Kroft, of Valparaiso, Indiana, sitting side by side and at times holding hands, briefly spoke to the media Friday afternoon during a news conference on the 71st floor of Trump Tower.

“I’m humbled and so grateful … they reached the verdict they did,” a smiling Cynthia Kroft, now 58, said.

“It was validation for our pain and suffering,” said Mark Kroft.

On May 11, 2016, Cynthia Kroft was driving to her mom’s after leaving her 3-to-11 shift at a Chesterton, Indiana, hospital where she worked as an ICU nurse, and was stopped at a light near Gateway Boulevard and State Road 49 in Chesterton, said the Krofts’ lawyer, Kenneth Allen.

She was rear-ended by trucker Pedrag Radisljovic, who worked for Viper Transportation, of Chicago, at the time, according to Allen.

Lawyers representing Radisljovic and the trucking company could not be reached for comment.

“It certainly could have killed her,” Allen said of Kroft’s injuries in the crash.

She suffered “traumatic injuries” and incurred serious medical bills, said a spokesman for Allen’s law firm, Andrew Tkacs.

Now several hospitals and rehab centers later, a smiling Cynthia Kroft said she is thankful for everyone who helped her during the journey, including everyone from the “capable, knowledgeable EMS” first-responders to rehab workers.

“I’ve been making gains,” said Kroft, who uses a wheelchair.

Kroft said her colleagues at the hospital where she worked visited her often and sent her get-well cards after the crash.

“I am eternally gratefully for my ICU family.”

rsobol@chicagotribune.com

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