Matoesian rejects defense argument, 'Byron did it'

Steve Korris Aug. 24, 2005, 2:20pm

Philip Lading

Just because one Madison County judge throws out a suit complaining that a motel failed to prevent violence does not mean his counterpart will do the same.

At an Aug. 24 hearing, Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian denied a motion from owners of the Chain of Rocks motel in Granite City for summary judgment against plaintiff Michael Bazzell.

Defense attorney Philip Lading of Granite City, arguing the motion, told Matoesian that Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron granted summary judgment last month in an identical case.

In that case, Byron ruled that owners of a Days Inn owed no duty to a pizza delivery man who was shot by a guest. Byron ruled that the pizza man was not an invitee of the hotel and that the violence was not foreseeable.

In the Chain of Rocks case, a motel guest shot Bazzell. He survived and sued motel owner Abdul Munshi, charging negligence.

Lading told Matoesian that the property was not open to the public. Lading said Bazzell was a trespasser, not an invitee.

"He was there for his own purposes," Lading said. "If anything he was there to the detriment of the motel, because he was chasing off paying guests."

Lading had written in his motion that Bazzell drank 14 beers from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and that he kept drinking until 10 p.m.

Attorney Bill Walker of Granite City, representing Bazzell, told Matoesian the motel operated more like apartments.

"This is not the Hilton where people stay a day or two on business," said Walker.

He said a jury should decide if the property was open to the public.

Police have responded to stabbings, batteries, a sexual assault, a fatal overdose and crack sales at the motel, Walker said.

Lading's attempt to rely on Byron's decision did not produce the effect the attorney intended. Matoesian ignored it, except for a slight scowl.

Matoesian denied summary judgment and added, "I don't think it's the strongest plaintiff's case."

He invited Lading to move for a directed verdict.

That did not satisfy Lading. He persisted in pleading his case.

"Now you're pushing it," Matoesian said. "This case is done."

He called for the next one.

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