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Family Gets $8M For Police-Caused Deaths
Wednesday, 19-Jan-2011 8:44PM United Press International
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Jan. 19 (UPI) -- An Illinois court Wednesday awarded $8 million to the family of two girls, ages 13 and 18, killed in a crash with a state trooper.

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Michael Mathis, an attorney for the Illinois Court of Claims in Springfield, said to his knowledge, it is the largest tort claim ever awarded against the state, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported.

Then-State Trooper Matt Mitchell, driving at 126 mph while talking on his cellphone and e-mailing, crashed into Jessica and Kelli Uhl of Collinsville in November 2007. The girls' car burst into flames and they died at the scene.

Mitchell pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless homicide and got 30 months probation. He resigned his job last year.

Parents Brian Uhl and Kimberly Schlau sought damages in excess of $24 million, which they later increased to $46 million. The court awarded $4 million for each of the girls' death, the newspaper said.

Schlau said she hopes the award will deter similar behavior in the future.

The award must be approved by the state Legislature as a special bill, which will probably occur toward the end of April, the newspaper said.

Mitchell's actions were "indefensible", Larry Trent, the former director of the state police, said on the witness stand.

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