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City Offering $22M To Woman Paralyzed At O'Hare; Attorneys Seek $150M

CHICAGO (CBS) -- City officials have offered $22 million to a 26-year-old woman who was paralyzed when a pedestrian shelter fell on her at O'Hare International Airport two years ago, but her attorneys are asking for $150 million in damages.

Tierney Darden, her mother, and her sister were taking cover from a severe storm outside O'Hare on Aug. 2, 2015, when a 700-pound pedestrian shelter crashed on top of Tierney, pinning her to the ground.

Her mother and sister also were hurt, but Tierney's injury was the worst. She suffered a severed spinal cord, and was permanently paralyzed from the waist down.

After the accident, 2 Investigator Dave Savini exposed the shelters at O'Hare had been poorly maintained. The shelter that fell on Tierney had rusted brackets and missing bolts. Other shelters had similar problems. One shelter was missing 22 bolts that are supposed to connect it to the ground and eight more screws in various spots that connect to the structure itself. Also, an entire mounting plate was missing.

Tierney, her mother, and her sister filed a negligence lawsuit against the city and the Chicago Department of Aviation. The city has since admitted fault for the poorly maintained shelters, but has not agreed on damages.

A civil trial to determine damages began Tuesday morning at the Daley Center. While the 26-year-old was not present for opening statements, she is expected to take the stand Wednesday.

One of Tierney's lawyers, Jeff Kroll, held up a model of a vertebrae and explained her constant pain, stating the city is 100 percent responsible for her injuries and future medical care.

In court, it was revealed the city has offered Tierney and her family $22 million in damages, but the family's attorneys have demanded $150 million.

Unless the city and the Darden family can come to an agreement on damages, it would be up to a Cook County jury to determine how much the city must pay for their medical bills, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.

The poorly maintained pedestrian shelters at O'Hare have since been removed.

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