The family of an off-duty Chicago Police officer who was killed in a crash last year while riding his motorcycle on the Dan Ryan Expressway has filed a lawsuit against the city.
Winifred Rodriguez filed the negligence and wrongful death suit Friday in Cook County Circuit Court in connection with the July 20, 2014, death of her son Tito M. Rodriguez Jr.
Dennis Anderson, then 51, a Cook County Juvenile Detention Center employee, was outbound in the express lanes in his red Pontiac G5 when he tried to make an illegal exit at 71st Street, crossing over a solid white line, through a median and into the local lanes, the Chicago Sun-Times previously reported. He had his sons, ages 13 and 16, in the car at the time.
Rodriguez, a 28-year-old who had been with the Chicago Police Department since May 2013, was on his motorcycle in the local lanes with his friends and co-workers riding behind him.
The off-duty cop tried to hit his brakes in an effort to stop the collision, but his motorcycle hit Anderson’s car, causing Rodriguez to be thrown off his bike and into the air before he landed on the pavement, prosecutors said during Anderson’s bond hearing.
Illinois State Police who arrived on the scene asked Anderson to submit to blood and urine testing but he allegedly refused.
An autopsy performed on Rodriguez indicated he died of multiple injuries, including skull, rib and extremity fractures. The Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled the death an accident.
Anderson, of the 8500 block of South Michigan Avenue, was charged with reckless homicide and was placed on electronic monitoring. His license was suspended as a result of the crash.
The case against Anderson is still pending, according to court records. He is next scheduled to appear for a hearing Aug. 4.
The lawsuit alleges that traffic posts were installed in the center median to control traffic and to deter motorists from moving from the express lanes into the local lanes.
But at the time of the crash, 11 traffic posts were missing, the suit claims.
The city, the suit alleges, carelessly and negligently operated, managed, maintained and controlled the expressway. Cook County is also named as a defendant.
The eight-count suit claims negligence and wrongful death and is seeking an undisclosed amount in damages.
A representative for the city could not be reached for comment Friday evening.