It’s not just airlines…
Chicago, IL – A Cook County court Friday ruled that Katharine Dayner’s case against the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), stemming from an incident in which her valuable viola was crushed by a CTA articulated bus, should proceed to trial. The court, denying the CTA’s attempt to obtain summary judgment, rejected the CTA’s effort to evade legal responsibility for Ms. Dayner’s loss.
On April 29, 2012, Ms. Dayner, an accomplished professional musician, was riding the #6 CTA bus from Hyde Park to downtown. She was carrying her viola, which had been crafted by the noted instrument maker William Whedbee and was worth $15,000 at the time. She was seated in the middle, “turntable” section of the articulated bus.
As the bus approached downtown, Ms. Dayner moved her viola case to her side to let another passenger pass. At that moment, the bus turned a corner; the turntable floor rotated; and Ms. Dayner’s viola case, with her arm around it, became pinned between the side of the bus and the metal arm rail of her seat. Although she was (just) able to free her arm, the viola case remained pinned. As the bus continued its turn, the case was crushed, and the viola heavily damaged.
“I was devastated,” said Ms. Dayner. “To a professional string player, an instrument is far more than a tool – it is an extension of who we are. My Whedbee viola was like a family member to me. When I opened the case and saw that the top had been split in half, I couldn’t stop crying.”
Although an entirely new top had to be made, Ms. Dayner continued, “it’s just not the same. It feels and sounds totally different. The viola I knew and loved is gone.”
Between repair costs, the diminished value of the viola, and other expenses, Ms. Dayner’s loss quickly approached $10,000. Yet despite submitting a wealth of documentation to the CTA’s claims department – including two written statements from witnesses, photographs of the damage, receipts, and opinions from fine instrument experts – the CTA offered only a fraction of that amount.
“This has been incredibly frustrating,” said Ms. Dayner. “I did everything I was supposed to do, and the CTA kept coming up with excuses to avoid paying anything. At one point, they even claimed it was my fault!”
Forced to engage an attorney, she hired Kevin Case, of firm Case Arts Law LLC, to file suit in Cook County court. … “I’m gratified that the court saw through the CTA’s attempts to evade liability,” said Case. “Obviously, the CTA is responsible for what happened to Ms. Dayner on one of its own buses. We’re confident that a jury will see it the same way.”