Groves trial continued to January

Amelia Flood Jun. 6, 2009, 9:16am


After she left court Thursday, Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder rethought her position regarding a trial slated to begin Monday in a complex negligence suit.

On Thursday, she had told lawyers who sought to postpone the trial date not to count on it.

"That was probably not fair," Crowder told attorneys for the estate of David Groves and for the remaining defendants and counter-claimants. "I'm not going to make you work all weekend. Now you can all goof off or work on your next file."

Crowder approved a motion to continue the trial of the Groves' estate's wrongful death suit against truck driver Jose Velazquez, Werner Enterprises Inc. and Proctor and Gamble Manufacturing. A new trial date is set for Jan. 11, 2010.

Crowder stated that she saw no reason not to continue the case as the party that had pushed for trial had settled Thursday.

The original trial had been set for 9 a.m. Monday. The case that began in 2007 started with one complaint and grew to include multiple defendants and counterclaims.

"It's been entertaining," Crowder said of the case, "and it's not done."

Crowder had indicated Thursday that she was not inclined to favor the request for a continuance. Attorneys for the Groves' estate were caught off-guard when the party that originated the suit settled. Groves' attorney, Tom Buckley, had said the settlement, which he had not been a party to, drastically changed how he and the others representing the estate of David Groves would go about trying the case.

Plaintiffs Cynthia and Russell Martin settled their negligence claims against all defendants for a confidential amount Thursday.

Cynthia Martin has originally sued the estate of David Groves for injuries her husband, Russell, suffered when the car he was riding in crashed into a tractor trailer in November 2006. David Groves, the driver, died from injuries. The original suit was brought against Julia Groves as special representative of her husband's estate.

Eventually, the suit grew to include the truck's driver, his employer, the leasing company of the warehouse where the incident took place, the manufacturing company that rented the warehouse space and the logistics company hired to oversee the site.

The Groves estate filed a wrongful death action against the companies after a claim for contribution was made by the companies against the Missouri-resident's estate.

The leasing company, CP/IPERS was granted summary judgment in May. The logistics company, YRC, settled with the Martins for $1 million and the Groves' estate for $132,000 Monday.

The remaining claims are the Groves' wrongful death suit and the remaining defendants contribution claim against the estate.
Attorneys for the defendants agreed to the continuance ahead of Crowder's order.

The Martins were represented by Joseph Bartholomew. The Groves estate is represented by Tom Buckley and others. Jose Velazquez and his employer, Werner Enterprises are represented by Bill Brasher and Richard Nash. Proctor and Gamble Manufacturing are represented by Matthew Reh, who also acted as counsel for CP/IPERS. Michael Kleffner represented YRC.

The case is Madison case number 07-L-224.

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