MARION — In protest of an appellate court order to repay roughly $500,000 in insurance money, Roger Herrin complied Wednesday but paid $150,000 of the amount in quarters.

The repayment stems from a series of lawsuits that have bounced back and forth between courts for about 12 years after a Saline County vehicle wreck killed his 15-year-old son Michael and injured others.

An armored vehicle from St. Louis delivered the coins to a Marion bank to begin the payment process. Workers unloaded 150 bags of quarters containing $1,000 each from the truck. Altogether, the load weighed four tons.

The money was then delivered to the unsuspecting recipients, bringing an end to all litigation in the case and making the day a bittersweet one for Herrin.

“It’s vehemently wrong in my view and nearly everybody else in the world,” he said of the payment, adding later, “If and when someone loses a child it leaves a hole in your heart that is never repairable.”

Herrin, a businessman including formerly owning banks, said he is upset with a 5th District Appellate Court ruling that his son’s estate should not have received any insurance money slated for victims in the wreck.

Herrin, a member of the SIU Board of Trustees, is also upset the family of another teenager involved in the wreck, but who only sustained an injury, will now receive nearly as much in insurance money as the Herrin Estate initially did.

According to court records, the fatal wreck occurred June 2001 when a farm truck driven by Brian Bramlet disobeyed a stop sign and broadsided a Jeep Cherokee at an intersection on Illinois 34 near Raleigh. Bramlet was found to be at fault.

Three teenage boys, including Herrin’s son, were passengers in the Jeep driven by one of the other boy’s mother, Katherine Duncan. Michael and teenager Jared Head were ejected, killing Michael and badly injuring Head. Duncan and her son, Ross, were also injured.

The controversy over the insurance money stems in part from then-Saline County Judge Ron Eckiss’ order that Herrin, as administrator, distribute $900,000 among the victims based on percentages determined by damages suffered by each victim.

All but $100,000 of the amount came from Duncan’s underinsured motorist policy; the rest came from Bramlet’s insurance.

Distribution was based on case law known in short as Janes, which involved claims for damages in the 1993 wrongful death of three Southern Illinois teachers and two others in Carterville. A sixth person survived.

In appeal, however, the other families argued that Janes did not allow the Herrin estate access to the money because Herrin had separate insurance on businesses and vehicles that included his family and received $1.65 million of a possible $5.5 million from that insurance.

The appellate court agreed.

“The (Jeep Cherokee’s) common pool of underinsured-motorist coverage initially must be distributed to the injured occupants with no outside source of underinsured-motorist coverage, effectively eliminating any recovery for the Herrin Estate,” appellate judges wrote.

Herrin disagrees, saying his insurance had nothing to do with the Cherokee vehicle and should not have been counted against him.

Attorneys for the other families, Douglas N. Dorris and Mark D. Prince, would not comment on the case. They cited a confidentiality agreement signed by them, Herrin and others.

“I’m not going to comment about his motives,” Dorris said of Herrin’s protest. “He’s a man who has lost a son.”

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(2) comments

Commenter_999
Commenter_999

I suppose Herrin deserves some benefit of the doubt and compassion, given how all of this started, but I also have to put this in the context of his past horrid behavior as a member of the SIU Board of Trustees. It started with a terrible, terrible tragedy, so he deserves some understanding as a private individual. However, as a public figure, he should think twice about this sort of hot-headed, petty, attention-seeking response to losing a court case. Sadly, it's in line with everything we have seen from him in his roles as an SIU trustee. Is this the kind of behavior we should see from an alleged leader of the community? Is this sort of behavior you want from a member of the board of a major research university? Stay classy Roger.

Becky_B
Becky_B

I am appalled that a court would make such a ruling. In my opinion he should have received the biggest part of the money, That BOY DIED, the boy that had the worst injuries should have received the second biggest amount and the rest of the passengers should have split the rest. What is wrong with people!! I would have appealed to the supreme Court, This is wrong in so many ways. The insurance the man had on his family should have NO BEARING on this accident, I'am sure he had to pay for that insurance so it should in no way be counted.My heart goes out to this man and his ex wife they lost their SON. You will both be in my prayers. I'am so sorry for your loss. The nerve of the other families who still have their children!!!! to fight for that money,YOU People ARE SO WRONG!!! what if it were your child that died??? Better look into your heart if you have one, and pray to God that you never find yourself in the same situation. Think about it.

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