The state of Illinois filed a civil suit in Madison County Circuit Court April 3, seeking to collect in excess of $864,413 paid to the widow of an Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) worker killed when struck by a vehicle.

Represented by Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Assistant Attorney General Thomas Soraghan, the state alleges Henry Jefferson Heath, Jr., was killed while he was directing traffic in a construction zone on Illinois Highway 162, just east of 111 in Pontoon Beach on April 26, 2006.

According to the complaint, Garrett Stearns was driving a vehicle owned by Commercial Lawn irrigation, which is owned by Bryan Grammer, when he collided with Heath. The suit seeks to recover damages from Stearns and Commercial Lawn.

Last month, Heath's widow filed a wrongful death suit against Stearns and his employer seeking damages in excess of $300,000.

The state alleges Stearns was negligent by:

  • Driving at a speed which was greater than reasonable;

  • Failing to reduce speed to avoid a collision;

  • Failing to maintain a proper lookout;

  • Driving a vehicle without adequate brakes;

  • Failing to maintain his vehicle under proper control; and

  • Failing to yield the right of way to an authorized vehicle and pedestrian.

    The state claims pursuant to Illinois law, it paid Heath's burial expenses to or on behalf of his widow in the amount of $8,000.

    It also claim she was paid $65,658.33 through March 31, and will also be paid an additional $790,754.67 from April 1 through April 30, 2031.

    The state seeks interest in the amount of nine percent per annum from the date of the judgment until it is satisfied.

    The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Daniel Stack.

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