Heather Isringhausen Gvillo Dec. 17, 2013, 6:57am


Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth has denied a petition for change of judge in a case filed by Edwardsville residents against the city over a water main line leak.

Plaintiff Raymere Oglesby filed the petition for a substitution of judge on Oct. 25 through attorney Shari L. Murphy of Wood River.

The City of Edwardsville responded to the substitution motion on Oct. 28 arguing that the petition “is not well taken.”

The City claims the lawsuit has been on file for two and a half years and rulings have been made on “substantive motions,” including a motion to dismiss that was granted on April 25, 2012.

“In order for plaintiff to be entitled to a substitution of judge, at this point she must show actual prejudice, an issue she has not raised nor could she meet in this case,” the defendant stated.

In a supplemental memorandum filed Dec. 4, the City stated that parties have been encouraged to “test the waters,” but argued that a motion for substitution of judge is inappropriate if the moving party waited to see if the judge would be favorable to the complaint.

“A party is not free to ‘judge shop’ until he finds a jurist who is favorably disposed to his cause of action,” the defendant argues. “Without doubt, plaintiff’s counsel is displeased by the admonitions given by this court. That, however, is clear proof that the plaintiff has ‘tested the waters’ and doesn’t like the temperature.”

According to the complaint, Oglesby, who owns property at 407 Olive Street, and plaintiff Maxie Johnson, who owns property at 605 Hill Lane, claim their walls, concrete flooring and property foundations sustained extensive water damage due to a water main line leak, which was discovered on Aug. 25, 2009. The water damage allegedly caused mold to grow on the plaintiffs’ properties.

Oglesby and Johnson blame Edwardsville for causing their damages, arguing that the city failed to timely repair a leak that it had knowledge of.

Oglesby and Johnson seek a judgment of more than $50,000.

Ruth scheduled a motion hearing for all pending motions for Jan. 3 at 9 a.m. He gave Oglesby until Jan. 3 to file an amended complaint.

The City of Edwardsville demanded a trial by jury in March 2011. The case was set for trial in September 2012, but was stricken. It was set for trial again in January 2014, but was stricken for a second time. Ruth wrote in his order than a new trial date will be selected at the motion hearing.

Charles A. Pierce of Pierce Law Firm in Belleville represents The City of Edwardsville.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 11-L-174

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