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Lawsuit filed in crash that killed Sycamore boy

Published: Monday, Dec. 2, 2013 5:47 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Dec. 2, 2013 11:56 p.m. CDT

GENEVA – The Sycamore man who admitted to having heroin in his system during a fatal car crash is being sued by the brother of the Sycamore boy he killed, court records show.

On Feb. 27, Benjamin Black, now 29, was driving a Ford Expedition on Route 64 in Kane County when he smashed into the back of a Chevrolet Cavalier that was stopped because of another crash more than a mile away. Eleven-year-old Matthew Ranken, the backseat passenger in the Cavalier, died from his injuries. His brother Nick Weber, now 22, was driving.

On Nov. 21 – a week after Black pleaded guilty to charges from the fatal crash – Weber filed a lawsuit against him, according to court documents filed with the Kane County Circuit Clerk's Office. The lawsuit accuses Black of failing to keep proper lookout, failing to decrease his speed to avoid an accident, driving too fast for conditions and, among other infractions, driving while impaired.

Weber is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, according to the lawsuit. It cites his medical expenses; physical and emotional pain and suffering and distress; loss of income; and loss of a normal life.

The lawsuit notes Matthew also was survived by his parents and two other brothers, ages 18 and 14. As a result of the boy's death, the lawsuit states, "his next of kin have and will continue to suffer extreme grief, mental suffering and will suffer the loss of consortium, society, love, affection, guidance, companionship, felicity, among other losses."

A case management conference is set for 9 a.m. Feb. 6, at the Kane County Courthouse in Geneva. Judge James Murphy is assigned to the case.

A sentencing hearing in Black's criminal case is set for March 20. Kane County Circuit Judge James Hallock could sentence Black to between three and 14 years in prison for aggravated driving under the influence. Probation would be an option only if Hallock found extraordinary circumstances existed.

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