Ann Maher Jan. 13, 2014, 8:14am

Belleville residents Gary and Alesia Klemme have denied liability in a pedestrian's lawsuit against them and the City of Belleville over injuries plaintiff Ace Fouts claims he sustained after falling on a sidewalk.

The Klemmes, who are being blamed for failing to provide a safe way to walk on their property's sidewalk, responded to Fouts' claim on Dec. 18, saying the plaintiff is more than 50 percent to blame for his alleged injuries, and that they should not be held liable at all.

"In the alternative, in the event that it is found that negligence on the part of Plaintiff is less than 50% of the proximate cause of the alleged injuries and/or damages, then the amount of the verdict awarded to Plaintiff must be reduced in accordance with the percentage of that negligence or fault," wrote St. Louis attorney David K. Simkins, for the Klemmes.

In his complaint filed last July in St. Clair County, Fouts claims the sidewalk near the intersection of 501 South Second and Monroe streets in Belleville was “cracked and buckling,” which caused him to fall.

Fouts, according to the suit, contends that when he tried to step on the curb after exiting his vehicle, it allegedly collapsed, causing him severe injuries.

Simkins wrote that Fouts failed to keep a proper lookout while walking on a public sidewalk, failed to keep control of his person, failed to avoid an open and obvious condition and was otherwise careless and negligent.

The City of Belleville, represented by Alan G. Pirtle of Becker, Paulson, Hoerner & Thompson in Belleville, answered the complaint on Oct. 8 denying the allegations.

Fouts is represented by Jarrod Beasley of The Kuehn Law Firm in Belleville.

Fouts seeks a judgment of more than $50,000 for each of the three counts in the complaint.

Circuit Judge Robert LeChien presides. He reset a status conference scheduled Dec. 11 to Feb. 10 at 9:30 a.m.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 13-L-376

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