Jury rules for defense in pedestrian's parking lot injury

Steve Gonzalez Jun. 5, 2008, 1:12pm

After a three-day trial, a Madison County jury ruled for the defense in a traffic accident trial against Madison County Transit (MCT) and Agency for Community Transit (ACT) in Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron's courtroom.

Sky Sheahan, who had sought between $40,000 and $60,000 for medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages, alleged that a mini-van driven by Nancy Shrum struck her while she was crossing the parking lot at an Alton McDonald's restaurant on Sept. 26, 2006.

She filed the suit Feb. 2, 2007.

Represented by Fritz Faerber and Christine Anderson of Faerber & Anderson in St. Louis, Sheahan alleged Shrum failed to use reasonable care in operating the vehicle, failed to maintain a proper lookout and pay attention to the road and surrounding area on which it traveled, failed to maintain control of her vehicle and failed to reduce speed in sufficient time to avoid hitting her.

She also claimed Shrum failed to yield the right of way, traveled at an unsafe and excessive speed, drove a vehicle in a wanton disregard for her safety, failed to avoid colliding with a pedestrian and failed to give warning by sounding the horn.

Sheahan testified she sustained injuries to her low back and left knee, including a tear of the cruciate ligament causing pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost wages.

Shortly before the trial began, Byron granted a summary judgment motion filed by MCT because Shrum is employed by ACT.

ACT and MCT were represented by Donald Ohl of Knapp, Ohl & Green of Edwardsville.

During trial, ACT argued Sheahan was at fault because she failed to exercise due care for her own safety because she failed to keep a proper lookout.

ACT filed a motion in limine asking Byron to exclude any and all evidence relating to custom or concave mirrors, rear view camera systems or audible back up warning systems installed or not installed on the mini van.

Any evidence or testimony regarding mirrors would be "irrelevant and immaterial" to any issue of Sheahan's complaint, ACT argued.

Sheahan also filed several motions in limine asking Byron to prohibit any evidence or comment about any of Sheahan's criminal convictions, pleas, charges or other criminal history because it would be irrelevant and would "unduly inflame the passions and prejudice the jury."

She also asked Byron to prohibit ACT from using any drawings, videos or photographs which had not been previously tendered in discovery, any of her other medical problems prior to the accident that could have contributed to her disability, any evidence of her prior knee problems including her past medical records and to prohibit any reference to another lawsuit she filed for a work-related injury.

Byron granted all the limine motions.

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