Max Zorn's stoplights

Family’s wrongful death lawsuit against city dismissed
Driver agrees to settle suit over car accident that killed IU professor
By Kurt Van der Dussen

November 29, 1995
A wrongful death lawsuit filed in November 1994 by the estate of Indiana University professor Max Zorn against the city of Bloomington and against the driver who struck Zorn two years ago has been dismissed.

Michael Spencer, attorney for the Zorn estate, said Tuesday – the second anniversary of the accident – that the claim against driver Robert E. Jerrels was dismissed after he agreed to an undisclosed settlement of the case, while the claims of liability against the city were dismissed entirely.

Zorn, an 86-year-old mathematics professor emeritus, was crossing East Third Street on his way home to dinner around twilight on Nov. 28, 1992, when he was struck and seriously injured by a car driven by Jerrels, whose current residence is unknown.

Zorn underwent extended hospitalization for a broken arm and leg and a chipped pelvis. He died on March 9, 1993, of congestive heart failure in connection with his injuries.

The accident dramatized the dangers both of walking and driving along East Third Street, which combines heavy traffic and thousands of pedestrian crossings to and from the IU campus.

Zorn’s accident led to a public outcry to provide greater protection for pedestrians, which led to a vote by the Bloomington City Council a month after Zorn’s death to install traffic signals on East Third at Hawthorne Drive and Woodlawn Avenue.

In November 1994, Zorn’s estate by attorney Spencer and Elizabeth Zorn filed suit against Jerrels for negligence in hitting Zorn and against the city for not having had the traffic lights in place before the accident.

The lawsuit alleged that Jerrels negligently exceeded the 25-mile-per-hour speed limit along East Third, failed to control his car and failed to avoid a pedestrian in a clearly marked crosswalk.

As for the city, the lawsuit alleged the city had “concrete knowledge” prior to the accident that East Third was frequently crossed by pedestrians and that drivers regularly exceeded the speed limit, thereby causing “severe danger” to pedestrians.

The city denied any liability.

The lawsuit sought compensatory damages from the city and from Jerrels for Zorn’s injuries, pain, major medical costs and death and for the emotional and financial losses those imposed for Zorn’s widow, Alice C. Zorn.

Copyright: 1995