Cottrell cleared in federal court trial

Steve Korris Sep. 20, 2007, 1:24pm

Jurors in U.S. District Court cleared Georgia trailer maker Cottrell Inc. of any fault in a truck driver's injuries.

Six jurors wrapped up a trial Sept. 14 with a verdict against Timothy Rosenburg, who blamed Cottrell for accidents that injured his back.

Two weeks earlier his attorney, Brian Wendler of Edwardsville, had declared he would prove $1,706,914.09 in economic loss.

Wendler also sought punitive damages and recovery for pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of normal life and loss of consortium.

The verdict represents a milestone for Cottrell, which constantly defends itself in Illinois courts hundreds of miles from home.

It represents a different kind of milestone for Wendler, his associate Thomas Maag, and Richard Armbruster of the Lakin Law Firm.

For years they have carried on a string of suits against Cottrell in Madison County on behalf of Teamster truckers.

The truckers claim they suffer injuries while loading autos on trailers due to faulty design and construction of the trailers.

Wendler ties Cottrell to Madison County by joining Cassens and Sons of Edwardsville, the employer of the truckers, to the suits.

Most of the suits stick in Madison County, though Circuit Judge Daniel Stack recently tossed one to Tennessee.

Wendler filed Rosenburg's suit in Madison County, in 2005.

He identified Rosenburg as an Illinois resident and wrote that the accidents happened in Illinois.

He sued Cottrell, five Cassens businesses, Toyota Motor Sales USA, Toyota Industries North America, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler.

Cottrell removed the suit to federal court, and District Judge Michael Reagan denied a motion to remand it to Madison County.

Last year Reagan granted summary judgment to the Cassens defendants, freeing them from the suit.

General Motors, Toyota and DaimlerChrysler settled before trial.

On Sept. 11, in the midst of trial, Cottrell counsel Amy Lorenz-Moser of St. Louis moved for judgment barring punitive damages.

She wrote that Rosenburg did not produce evidence of malice or conscious disregard of safety.

Reagan granted the motion Sept. 13.

The other shoe dropped the next day, when jurors cleared Cottrell.

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