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McDonough County Will Fight Multi-Million Dollar Court Ruling

May 14, 2019

County board members unanimously agreed to ask the Third District Appellate Court to rehear the Tom Pledge case.  If that is unsuccessful, the county will ask the Illinois Supreme Court to consider the case.

County Board Chairperson George Dixon said the board feels obligated to carry on the battle.

“We’re not one to give up, frankly. We want to exhaust all our opportunities on the Appellate Court. If that’s not productive, then we are probably going to go to the Supreme Court and exhaust our options there,” said Dixon.

“I think we’re obligated to do that.”

Brief Summary

The case concerns a high speed chase on Route 67 that involved Sheriff’s Deputy Tom Pledge in September, 2004.

He pulled over a suspected drunk driver who was spotted between Good Hope and Macomb. When Pledge approached the car on foot, the driver, Rigoberto Herrera of Harvard (IL), sped away with his lights turned off.

Pledge got back into his car and chased the suspect into Macomb, where Pledge crashed into the mini-van driven by Amanda Dayton of Libertyville, who was age 16 at the time.  She had made a left turn in front of Pledge’s vehicle on route 67 at University Drive.

Speeds in the chase reached an estimated 100 miles per hour.

Dayton’s mother, Jill Dayton, was a passenger in the mini-van.  The 44-year old woman was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Pledge and a passenger in the mini-van were seriously injured.

Court Rulings

A jury awarded $3.6 million to the estate of Jill Dayton and another $468,000 to her daughter, Amanda. 

Ninth District Circuit Court Judge Richard Gambrell later vacated the verdict and ordered a new trial.  But the Third District Appellate Court recently reinstated the verdict.

The county’s insurance would cover about half of the total amount awarded.  The county would be responsible for the rest.        

Herrera’s Punishment

Herrera was arrested in Macomb shortly after the crash.  He ultimately pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude police.  In 2006 he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.

Herrera was also sentenced in 2006 to 16 months in prison for an unrelated charge of possessing between 30 and 500 grams of marijuana.