Fallen Courier Blaine Klingenberg’s Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit

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Blaine Klingenberg. Photo: Facebook

[This article was produced in partnership with the Chicago Reader.]

Yesterday afternoon a wrongful death lawsuit was filed on behalf of the father of fallen bike courier Blaine Klingenberg, who was fatally struck by the driver of a double-decker tour bus at Michigan and Oak during the evening rush on June 15. The suit names bus driver Charla Henry and her employer Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Company.

According to friends of Klingenberg, he was on his way to meet up with colleagues at Oak Street Beach after work when the collision occurred. He was bicycling north on Michigan through the intersection when he was struck and dragged by Henry, who was driving westbound. Klingenberg was rushed to Northwestern hospital and pronounced dead on arrival.

The Chicago Police Department crash report clearly laid the blame on Klingenberg, stating, “The victim disregarded the light at Oak and turned into the bus, causing the collision.” Henry has not been issued traffic citations or charged with a crime. However, two witnesses told me they were convinced the bus driver was at least partly responsible for the messenger’s death because she also entered the intersection after her light turned red.

The lawsuit was filed in the Cook County circuit court by the bike-focused personal injury firm FK Law (a Streetsblog Chicago sponsor). Klingenberg’s father Walter Klingenberg is named as the plaintiff. The document states that Henry was guilty of one or more of the following acts and/or omissions:

  • Disobeyed a solid-red traffic signal
  • “Failed to exercise the degree of care and caution tht a reasonable person under similar circumstances would have exercised in the operation of the [double decker] bus”
  • “Failed to keep an adequate lookout”
  • “Drove the… bus at a speed at a speed that was greater than was reasonable given the traffic conditions and the use of the highway”
  • Failed to avoid hitting a bicyclist
  • “Was otherwise careless or negligent in the operation of the … bus”

The suit argues that, in addition to being fatally injured, Klingenberg “suffered great pain and anguish, both in mind and body prior to his death.”

It also states that Walter Klingenberg, as well as Blaine’s mother Beverly Klein, brother Corey Klingenberg, and sister Kendal Klingenberg have suffered the loss of the deceased man’s “company and society.”

Read the rest of the article on the Chicago Reader’s website.

  • what_eva

    From all the accounts I’ve seen, I think what happened is that they both went through on red, but the bus was *way* more in the wrong.

    The way that intersection works, once the light goes red on Oak/E Inner LSD, there is then a left turn signal for N and S Michigan/N Inner LSD, then the green light to Michigan/N Inner LSD.

    From the witness accounts, the light had turned red on Oak/E Inner LSD. The green was most likely to the left turners. The cyclist likely went through this intersection frequently, so he’d know that if there were no southbound left turners, he’d be clear to jump the light. However, the bus then runs the red light and hits the cyclist.

    IMO, there’s a big difference between a cyclist going early and a bus blowing a solid red way too late.

    Going early is something I see people do as pedestrians all the time. I do it myself all the time, especially at intersections I’m familiar with. If I know that I’m going to get a signal in a few seconds because of a left turn light and there’s nobody turning, I’m probably going early either as a pedestrian or a cyclist.

    Sadly, jury composition is going to mean everything to this case. Get a jury full of suburbanites who think cars can do no wrong and cyclists need to be licensed to pay their fair share or any of the other nonsense I read, it’ll be a loss. Get some people who understand reality and that a driver of a damned bus should take more care and it has a chance.