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A Portage man whose dream of becoming a full-time professor was derailed when he suffered a head injury in a crash with a semi three years ago will receive a settlement of $1.7 million, said his attorney, Kenneth J. Allen.

Allen said Wednesday that Sajid Baig, 45, is grateful to be receiving near the maximum he could have recovered, especially since he almost didn't receive anything.

Allen said the trucker who collided with Baig, Trevor Topp of Canada, a driver for Quadrant Transportation Systems, left the scene. Griffith residents Ladell and Adrienne Bonds witnessed the crash and got the truck's license plate number, Allen said.

"Were it not for the quick thinking of these two good Samaritans, the trucker would have escaped liability and Mr. Baig would have been left without remedy," Allen said.

The crash that injured Baig occurred Feb. 2, 2001, on Interstate 80 in Hammond. Baig, who had been an assistant professor at Indiana University Northwest and guest lecturer at Purdue University Calumet, suffered "a mild traumatic brain injury that took away the acumen needed to teach at a college level."

Allen said Baig is still bright and functional, but lost that "edge of intelligence" required to teach at a college level.

"For him, obviously he wishes only to turn back the clock. He lost his dream of becoming a full professor," Allen said.

Baig, who is not working, hopes to teach part-time with the help of an assistant in the future, Allen said.

Chicago attorney Howard Pikel, who represented Topp and Quadrant, said the settlement was made after both parties' analysis of the case. Allen and Pikel said the negotiations centered on who was responsible for the crash and the extent of the injuries.

Baig incurred more than $33,000 in medical bills following the crash. Allen filed a lawsuit in Lake Superior Court alleging that Quadrant failed to qualify and train Topp and its other drivers. The case would have gone to trial Sept. 27 if the settlement, finalized in late July, not been reached.

Ken Kosky can be reached at kkosky@nwitimes.com or (219) 462-5151, ext. 354.

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