Jurors award plaintiff $150,000 in day care head stomping suit
Madison County jurors found in favor of a couple who sued a Granite City day care on Wednesday, awarding Sossity and Joel Laleman $150,000 over an incident involving their son in 2006.
The Lalemans sued Jane Tolhurst and John Welle of Granite City's Carrousel Too Day Care Center claiming that employee Welle stomped on then-four year old Jordan Laleman's head.
Jurors returned the verdict at 1:20 p.m.
The Lalemans said they were relieved the trial was over. They also said the case was not about money.
"Our big thing with this case was we wanted people to know," Sossity Laleman said. "We didn't want this to happen to any other child."
The defendants were not available for comment following the trial.
Following the trial, a number of jurors asked to speak with the Lalemans, shaking their hands and speaking for some time.
The Lalemans and their attorney, Mark Levy, cited the testimony of former Carrousel employee Amber Soechtig as a crucial factor in the jury's decision.
Soechtig testified Tuesday that she witnessed Welle act aggressively toward Jordan Laleman and other children at the Granite City day care. She testified that she saw Welle stomp twice on Jordan Laleman's head and demonstrated what she saw for the jury.
Several jurors reacted with wide eyes and open mouths to the demonstration.
Tolhurst had testified that she believed Soechtig, who had been pregnant at the time of the 2006 incident, had called the police and made more of the incident as an excuse to quit her job so she could collect unemployment.
"She was the only one who basically told them, 'I'm going to do the right thing,'" Sossity Laleman said.
As to their son, who was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome after the July incident, his parents said he was doing better.
"We just constantly remind him that he is safe," Sossity Laleman said.
Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla entered the judgment against Tolhurst and Welle immediately after the jury's verdict.
The defendants were represented by David Friess of Belleville.
The case is Madison case number 07-L-147.