After $311k default judgment, attorney Verett seeks another award

Steve Gonzalez Jun. 14, 2007, 5:00am

An Edwardsville attorney who has already been awarded $311,700 for injuries sustained in a door-opening accident at a local pizzeria, has asked Madison County Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron to enter a second default judgment in her favor.

This time Amanda Verett, a family law attorney, wants One-O-Nine Company to pay up because the business has failed to respond to her lawsuit against Pizza Hut and a Troy police officer.

Byron entered default judgment for Verett on May 11 after officer Clarence Jackson failed to respond to the lawsuit.

Verett filed suit against Pizza Hut, One-O-Nine and officer Clarence Jackson alleging she was injured when walking out the door of the Troy Pizza Hut on Feb. 12. She claims she held open the door to allow herself and Jackson to exit.

Since Byron's default judgment was awarded, Jackson has filed a motion to vacate the judgment claiming he was on duty at the time of the incident, answering a 911 call at Pizza Hut.

Represented by Anthony E. Dos Santos of Reilly Law in Edwardsville, Jackson states he is statutorily immune from allegations of negligence because Verett's suit arises from his response to a 911 call.

In his motion to vacate, Jackson said that once he was served with the summons, he turned it over to the city of Troy for the assumption of his defense pursuant to statute.

Verett claimed Jackson grabbed the door in such a fashion that it caused the door to suddenly and sharply move and injure her right shoulder.

She claimed Jackson violated his duty to use ordinary care for the safety of others when he operated the Pizza Hut door which caused her to sustain an acromion process impingement in her right shoulder.

Verett claims Pizza Hut and One-O-Nine was negligent by maintaining a door for ingress and egress which was not reasonably safe and was likely to injure people when being held open and grabbed by another.

Verett's attorney, Tom Maag of Edwardsville, filed the motion for default judgment against One-O-Nine claiming service was attempted on March 15 with its registered agent, CT Corporation, but the company refused to accept it claiming One-O-Nine was not a client.

Maag claims that on April 2, he mailed the summons and complaint to One-O-Nine in Texas and claims the company was made aware that a default would be taken in 30 days if no response was made.

"The letter to the president of One-O-Nine was returned to sender, with a notation from the post office that the president had moved," Maag wrote.

Maag's secretary, Amanda Voyles, signed an affidavit for Maag stating that after the letter was returned, she mailed an alias summons in the case to the Sangamon County Sheriff to be served upon the Illinois Secretary of State.

Voyles states in her affidavit that the Secretary of State was served on May 11.

Maag filed the motion for default against One-O-Nine on June 11.

Verett claimed that due to the injury she suffered at Pizza Hut, she was unable to avoid falling on a later date and tore tendons and suffered injuries to her left hand and wrist, including a partial tear of the pronator quadratus muscle at the dorsum.

She claimed her injuries caused her to suffer a disfigurement, severe pain and discomfort and medical expenses.

In her affidavit in support of the default judgment against Jackson, Verett stated that after Jackson grabbed the door she felt a pain in her right shoulder.

She claimed that several days later, the shoulder began to hurt worse; she sought treatment from Granite City chiropractor Dr. Mark Eavenson.

Verett stated that Eavenson decided to go with a conservative treatment. However, she says, it was not sufficient because she had a torn rotator cuff and an acromion impingement in her right shoulder causing her to have surgery on April 16, by Dr. Richard Lehman.

She stated that she still continues to see Eavenson for physical therapy that is scheduled to continue until July 15.

Verett also claimed she will require two additional surgeries and has already incurred $22,000 in medical expenses and believes the two additional surgeries will cost $57,000.

Verett also stated she is unable to drive any great distance without extreme pain. She does not think she will be able to drive until sometime in June.

"My shoulder is always hurting," Verett wrote in court pleadings. "I am in agony because of the injury that Mr. Clarence Jackson inflicted upon me.

"The pain is expected to continue for several months into the future."

Verett also claimed she has lost at least $11,000 in income she would have earned as well clients whom she had to refer to other lawyers.

Matthew Verett, Amanda's husband, also filed an affidavit in support of the default judgment.

He claimed the day the incident occurred, Amanda came home in "great pain and discomfort."

"This was not a simple minor bruise," Mr. Verett wrote.

He claimed the medication was not helping his wife and he found her crying in the living room twice.

Matthew claimed that thanks to physical therapy and medication, Amanda seemed to be getting better. But four days after the Pizza Hut incident, she fell in the driveway because of the ice and snow.

He claimed he saw her roll to her left and fall on her left hand and immediately began to cry because she thought she broke her wrist.

"Amanda did not land or fall on her right shoulder, as she was obviously protecting it with the left side of her body," Matthew wrote.

He claimed Amanda had a severe sprain of her wrist and had to wear a cast for 10 days.

"I had to help Amanda brush and wash her hair, fasten her brassiere and button her shirts," he wrote.

Matthew also claimed Amanda cried for hours before the surgery because she was scared and in a lot of pain. He also claimed his love life has been very poor since the injury because Amanda is often in too much pain.

"In my opinion, as a nursing student at SIUE, all of the injuries to Amanda's right shoulder and arm were caused by Clarence Jackson jerking the door out of her hand," Matthew wrote.

Michael Reid also filed an affidavit for the default judgment, stating that he personally served Jackson with the summons on March 8, at 1:30 p.m. at the Troy Police Department.

On April 5, Pizza Hut's attorney Andrew Miller filed an answer claiming Verett was more than 50 percent responsible for her alleged injuries which bars any recovery on her part.

Verett filed a response to Pizza Hut by simply stating that she denies Pizza Hut's affirmative defenses.

Byron has a hearing on all the pending motions set for June 22.

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