Defendant asks for new trial in Moto Mart slip and fall case

Amelia Flood Oct. 29, 2009, 7:44am



Defendants who lost a slip and fall trial in September after Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder granted a directed verdict for plaintiffs, are asking for a new trial.

Crowder, who oversaw the trial of John and Linda Linkes v. FKG Oil Co., will hear the defense motion on Nov. 4 at 9 a.m.

Crowder had granted a move by the plaintiffs in the case calling for sanctions and directing the verdict in light of what Crowder called defendant FKG Oil Company's "cavalier" behavior during the suit's discovery and trial.

She directed the verdict on the issue of liability on Sept. 17 and the jury awarded plaintiffs $389,664.41 on Sept. 21.

The 2008 suit stemmed from John Linkes' slip and fall on a wet floor at FKG's Edwardsville Moto Mart. Linkes claimed to have severely torn ligaments in his knee. Linda Linkes was a co-plaintiff who claimed loss of consortium.

FKG argued that Linkes contributed to the fall and that "Wet Floor" signs had been placed near the area.

During testimony in the September trials, employees of the Moto Mart testified that they caused the wet floor. The head of the company testified that FKG's safety policies about slip and falls were not followed as well as they could have been.

Crowder had sanctioned FKG for discovery violations just prior to the trial.

In its Oct. 23 motion for a new trial, FKG argues that certain rulings of the trial court prejudiced its defense of the suit. It argues that Crowder erred in directing the verdict on the negligence and liability issues and that it "ignored substantial evidence and testimony regarding Defendant's lack of negligence."

The motion includes issues as to the directed verdict, its exclusion of evidence of John Linkes' contribution to the accident, in allowing a plaintiff's expert's testimony and other alleged errors on Crowder's part.

In entering the directed verdict, Crowder was visibly angry and took time to explain her reaction to the parties.

"Nothing upsets me more ... than people who don't take their obligations in this system seriously," she told the defendants. She chided defense attorney Victor Avellino and FKG President Rob Forsyth for their "lackadaisial" approach to both the discovery in the case and Forsyth's testimony that was at times contradicted by survelliance tapes.

The Linkeses were represented by Gordon Broom.

The case is Madison case number 08-L-410.

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