Crowder finds settlement in good faith in complex negligence suit

Amelia Flood Sep. 2, 2009, 6:49am


A settlement that left attorneys for one of the parties in a complex negligence and wrongful death suit scrambling, can go forward.

Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder signed off on a good faith finding in a settlement between plaintiffs Russell and Cynthia Martin and two defendants Aug. 28.

That leaves co-plaintiff and co-defendant Julia Groves, the administrator of her deceased husband's estate, to go it alone in her wrongful death suit against several defendants who also have counterclaims pending against the estate.

Those two defendants were Jose Velazquez and his employer, Werner Enterprises.

Another defendant, logistics company YRC, previously settled with the Martins for $1.1 million. It also settled with the Groves, with Crowder approving that July 16.

Defendant CP/IPERS was granted summary judgment.

The Martin settlement had taken Groves' lawyers by surprise and Crowder moved the case to next year for trial in June. The terms of the settlement were not available in Crowder's August order.

The original lawsuit stemmed from a November 2006 accident in which David Groves and Russell Martin were injured when the car David Groves was driving in Pontoon Beach hit a truck backing out of a warehouse facility.

Cynthia Martin sued the Groves' estate for negligence in the original complaint. Her husband suffered massive head injuries in the accident.

David Groves died from his injuries several weeks after the accident.

The truck driver, Jose Velazquez, his employer, Werner Enterprises, the warehouse owner, the warehouse tenant and the logistics company hired by the warehouse tenant, were all later named as defendants in Martin's suit and one for wrongful death filed by the Groves' estate. The companies then sued the Groves' estate for contributory negligence.

The Martins' attorney, Joseph Bartholomew, announced his clients' intention of settling with all of the defendants except the Groves' estate at a hearing in early June.

Attorneys for the Groves' estate were visibly shocked and argued that they needed more time to prepare for trial due to the settlement. They alleged they had been in talks with the Martins about settling their case and going forward against the defendant prior to the announcement.

Bartholomew represents the Martins.

The Groves' estate is represented by Thomas Buckley and others.

Velazquez and his attorney are represented by William Brasher and Richard Nash.

The leasing company, CP/IPERS was represented by Matthew Reh. Reh also represents the tenant company, Proctor and Gamble Manufacturing.

Michael Kleffner represents the logistics company YRC.

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

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