Pre-trial motions, late filings back up Edwardsville accident re-trial

Amelia Flood May 18, 2009, 10:00am

Although the re-trial on an Edwardsville rear-end accident lawsuit was set to begin at 9 a.m. Monday, late motions from both sides delayed its start until Tuesday.

Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth expressed his displeasure to attorneys Rodney Caffey and Stephen Mudge over what he said was "dropping things on the other side."

"You need to work with each other," Ruth told the lawyers. Ruth went on to say he disliked hearing motions on the day a trial was is supposed to start when they could have been ruled on during the previous week.

The case of Walter Spearman versus Michael Sunley has returned to Madison County after the Fifth District Appellate Court ruled that a jury verdict was invalid. That verdict granted Spearman damages only for his medical bills following a 2002 rear-end accident. The original jury did not make any provision for pain, suffering, future disability or disfigurement.

The appellate court said that the original trial judge overstepped his authority when he denied the plaintiff's motion for a new trial.

Mudge, acting for the defendant Sunley, had not received a copy of one of the plaintiff's motions until the parties were in court at 11 a.m. Monday.

Both sides produced upwards of 20 motions for rulings.

The trial will open with jury selection and opening arguments at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

In its opinion, the appellate court ruled that the case could be retried on the damages only.

Ruth ruled Monday that neither side would be able to argue what caused the injury because the appeals court had established it was the result of the accident. The majority of the remaining motions dealt with what lines of questioning and evidence could be introduced to a jury.

Spearman is currently represented by Caffey, according to court documents. He was originally represented by Robert Edmonds.

The case is Madison case number 04-L-007.

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