Woman loses case over tractor accident

Steve Gonzalez Sep. 11, 2008, 1:22pm


A Madison County jury on Wednesday ruled for the defense in an automobile personal injury suit.

The plaintiff in the case, Cynthia Smith, alleged Mark Hays of Madison collided with her vehicle on East 12th Street in Madison on Sept. 7, 2006.

Hays was accused of driving a 1995 John Deere tractor backwards when he struck the front of Smith's 2002 Dodge Stratus.

Represented by Richard Reed of Belleville, Smith argued Hays was negligent by failing to keep his tractor under proper control and failed to observe her vehicle when it should have been observed.

In addition, Smith argued Hays improperly backed onto a roadway in violation of a public safety statute, drove his tractor at a speed that was greater than reasonable and failed to avoid a collision.

Smith also named the city of Madison as a defendant since Hays was working for and driving a city vehicle at the time of the accident.

She alleged Madison had a duty to control its agents and employees.

James Craney of Brown & James in St. Louis represented Hays and Madison.

The case was originally assigned to Circuit Judge David Hylla, however he recused himself on Sept. 8, because he once served as city attorney for Madison. The case was then passed to Associate Judge Ralph Mendelsohn.

At trial, Smith argued the collision caused her to sustain severe and permanent injuries to her neck, back, legs and abdomen in addition to the various muscles, ligaments, nerves and blood vessels.

She testified her painful injuries caused mental anguish and required her to seek a physician's care.

In an unrelated federal criminal matter, Smith is facing sentencing in U.S. District Court Sept. 12 after pleading guilty to distribution and possession of a controlled substance believed to be cocaine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Hudson is recommending Smith serve 109 months in prison.

District Judge Michael Reagan will sentence her at 10 a.m.

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