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MERRILLVILLE | A local woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury 10 years ago while working on an Illinois road reconstruction project has won a $6.8 million settlement.

Valparaiso lawyer Kenneth Allen said Friday he believes it is the largest settlement ever reached for mild traumatic brain injury to an Indiana resident.

He represents Catherine Graves, 42, of Merrillville, who remains permanently injured from the mishap.

"Cathy is a fighter, and we credit this settlement to her strong spirit and determination," Allen said. "She never gave up. Although she struggles with the routine tasks of daily living, she just keeps on doing her best."

Howard Krauskopf, a Chicago lawyer who represents Graves' employer, Case Foundation of Roselle, Ill., confirmed the amount of the award, but declined further comment on the case.

Allen said Graves was working as a pile driver on the reconstruction of Algonquin Road near Hoffman Estates, Ill., in 1994.

She and her co-workers were erecting a retainer wall when a steel sheet piling fell on a 6-foot wooden timber, he said. The timber flew up, hitting Graves and fracturing bones in her face and causing a mild traumatic brain injury.

She sued Case and Ganna Construction of Lemont, Ill. Chicago lawyer Stevan Krkljes, who represents Ganna Construction, couldn't be reached Friday for comment.

Allen issued a written statement after the settlement. It quoted Graves as saying, "I just wanted them to do the right thing -- to recognize the harm they caused me and my family and do justice."

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