Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder has a denied plaintiff attorney's motion for reimbursement of trial costs and expenses in an eight-year-old lawsuit that ended in mistrial in July.
Crowder filed the order Nov. 20 in the case of a trucker who at trial blamed Cassens Corp. and Cassens & Sons as well as Bostrom Seating for his low back injuries, saying his rig’s seat and its mounting brackets failed.
Following the mistrial ruling, Graham's attorneys - Charles Armbruster of Alton and Brian Wendler of Edwardsville -filed a motion for reimbursement of “wasted” trial costs and expenses. arguing that Graham “should not be required to bear the costs associated with the violations of the court’s order by Bostrom’s counsel.”
Crowder wrote that when a particular party causes a mistrial, that still does not give rise to liability for attorney fees unless the parties agree or the court finds contempt.
Crowder said there was no intentional conduct on the part of counsel.
“In fact, as counsel for Bostrom noted, he had actually drawn the attention of plaintiff’s counsel to his plan to use exhibits regarding plaintiff’s differing histories given to treating medical personnel; the violation of the order in limine was clearly inadvertent,” Crowder wrote.
Ultimately, she stated that she regrets the expenditures that will need to be repeated, but does not find contempt and must deny an order for reimbursement.
The suit was first filed in 2005. Graham, who worked for Cassens Transport, a car hauling division of Cassens Corp., claimed that on Oct. 18, 2004, he suffered a low back injury when his rig’s seat and mounting brackets failed. He claims to have suffered a ruptured lumbar disc at L4-L5.
After the first day of trial, on July 17, Crowder declared a mistrial over violation of several motions in limine.
In her order, she said mistrial was granted following the opening statements after defendant Bostrom Seating Corporation violated an order in limine when it showed an exhibit to the jury “that alluded to pre-existing medical conditions of plaintiff. Plaintiff’s counsel also allegedly violated an order in his opening statements, but not to the extent to warrant a mistrial."
Crowder has scheduled a re-trial date for Jan. 13, 2014 at 9 a.m. A pretrial hearing is set for Jan. 9, 2014. The case also had been set for private mediation on Nov. 15.
Mike Murphy of Freeark, Harvey, Mendillo, Dennis, Wuller, Cain & Murphy in Belleville represents Bostrom Seating Corporation.
Madison County Circuit Court case number 5-L-659