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Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017 12:07 am

Man struck by traffic pillar sues city

Claims negligence led to mishap

 A man critically injured a year ago when a traffic pillar fell on his head near the Old State Capitol has sued Springfield and the state of Illinois, saying that he has suffered permanent brain damage due to the city’s negligence.

According to his lawsuit, Andrew Schanze suffered brain damage, broken facial bones and permanent disfigurement when he grabbed the metal pillar, commonly called a bollard, to steady himself while dismounting his bicycle to retrieve belongings that had fallen to the ground near the intersection of South Sixth and East Adams streets. The pillar designed to keep cars from entering the plaza bordering the Old State Capitol broke loose from the ground and struck Schanze’s head in a gruesome mishap captured by surveillance video. Schanze’s injuries were potentially fatal, according to a police report.


Bolts that were supposed to secure the bollard to the pavement were rusted, worn and poorly maintained, according Schanze’s lawsuit. The city knew, or should have known, that rust had compromised the bolts, according to the lawsuit, yet did nothing to address the problem.

Schanze was 46 when he was injured on Oct. 10, 2016. According to the lawsuit, his injuries have left him unable to care for himself or his estate. In addition to Andrew Schanze, the lawsuit names Matthew Schanze, guardian, as a plaintiff. Jonathan Nessler, plaintiff’s attorney, declined to describe the relationship between Andrew Schanze and Matthew Schanze.

The Illinois Tort Immunity Act protects municipalities from negligence lawsuits unless plaintiffs can prove that conduct was “willful and wanton.” Nessler said he’s confident that he can prove the case even though the standard of proof is higher than it would be if a private entity was the target.

“I think, yes, it’s a meritorious lawsuit,” Nessler said.

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, the state Department of Natural Resources and the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition, a nonprofit organization headquartered on the Old State Capitol Plaza, are also named as defendants because the agencies might possess information needed to determine whether there should be additional defendants, according to the lawsuit.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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