Edgerton, Wisconsin-based limousine company Lyons Limousine and 20-year-old Janesville resident and driver Aaron Nash are being sued by 45-year-old Michael Johnson and 53-year-old Robert Rosa, both of Fitchburg, who are among those injured in a fatal accident that occurred on March 25, 2016 as Nash was driving Johnson, Rosa, 53-year-old Monona resident Terri Schmidt, 59-year-old Monona resident Kevin Schmidt, 61-year-old Verona resident Louis Corning, and 64-year-old Verona resident Donald Corning to Chicago, Illinois’ O’Hare International Airport for a vacation in Mexico.
The lawsuit, which was filed in the Cook County Circuit Court last Thursday, April 14 and which alleges five counts related to personal injuries received from negligence, also identifies Lyons Limousine owner Patrick Lyons and another company Nash works for, Zenith Limousine, as defendants.
The limousine flipped over and killed Terri Schmidt when Nash hit a construction barricade on the Illinois Tollway near Elgin. Police said Nash told them that he was blinded by the sun, causing him to not see the traffic pattern.
According to federal law, a person needs to be at least 21 years old to be allowed to drive commercial vehicles such as limousines. Federal authorities said on Tuesday, April 5 that they had shut down the operations of Lyons Limousine after investigations into the deadly accident uncovered that it was guilty of several violations.
According to the United States Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Lyon Limousine’s use of unqualified and underage drivers with poor driving records, lack of inspection, repair and maintenance records, and complete disregard of the hours-of-service regulations substantially increases the likelihood of death or serious harm to drivers, passengers, and the motoring public if not discontinued immediately”, with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration spokesman Duane DeBruyne adding, “The immediate aspect is the company is not allowed to operate”.
The website of the Clawson & Staubes, LLC: Injury Group says that since limousines are large vehicles with a wide turn radius, they probably are susceptible to big blind spots. Also, because of its size, limousines have a smaller space or room with which to stop in case its driver followed the vehicle preceding it too closely, or if its driver gets distracted by the phone or the global positioning system; this means limousines are more prone to crash as compared with smaller vehicles, adds the website of Karlin, Fleisher, and Falkenberg.