Jury Awards $148M to Dancer Paralyzed in O'Hare Shelter Collapse

A jury awarded a dancer who was paralyzed when a bus shelter collapsed on her at O'Hare airport $148 million Wednesday following days of emotional testimony.

The jury awarded Tierney Darden $148 million, including $6 million for emotional distress and $32 million for future medical costs.

"Needless to say, we are very, very grateful that the jury recognized the severity of her injury and the long road that she has ahead of her her," Daren's attorney, Patrick Salvi, said after the verdict was announced. "This is a very, very special case in the sense that Tierney was truly a victim of wrongful conduct by the city."

The payout will be covered by the city's insurance and not taxpayers.

“We are disappointed in the jury’s verdict and are evaluating our legal options,” Bill McCaffrey, of the city of Chicago's Department of Law, said in a statement.

With her attorneys at her side, Darden for the first time last week told jurors what it was like when a 760 pound bus shelter came loose from its mounting at O'Hare airport and fell on her in 2015.

"My face hit the ground and then there was a crack and everything went white. At that point, I knew I was paralyzed," the now 26-year-old said fighting back tears.

It was two years ago Darden's life changed forever after her spine was severed by the shelter. It had come loose during a heavy storm.

"My mom kept telling me to get up, and I couldn't," she said.

The city offered Darden and her family a $22 million settlement. Her lawyers asked for $150 million.

Much of their case hinged on the life Darden lost.

"I know it's a substantial verdict but if you had sat in the courtroom and listened day by day to everything she has gone through and everything that she has facing her in the future, you would realize that the verdict was fair and reasonable," Salvi said.

Earlier her sister Melissa testified that Tierney is constantly questioning what kind of future she will have because she is lost.

Tierney told the jury, "I feel pathetic and that's a challenge for me. I also feel like a burden on my family."

When her attorney asked her what she wanted to do with her life, Darden simply said "Dance, it was my heart and soul."

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