Amputee seeks sanctions against insurance company post-trial

Amelia Flood Dec. 2, 2009, 9:59am

An accident victim who was awarded over $1.3 million for the loss of his right foot in an accident is seeking additional money. This time in the form of sanctions against an insurance company he claims bribed a witness.

A Madison County jury found for plaintiff Steven Kirk in his personal injury suit against defendant Enver Hamiti after a week-long trial Nov. 20. Kirk sued Hamiti for injuries he suffered when Hamiti hit Kirk and his motorcycle in Alton three years ago.

A verdict awarding Kirk $1.375 million was formally entered Nov. 23.

The original award of $1.8 million was reduced by 20 percent as jurors found that Kirk, who was legally intoxicated at the time of the incident, contributed that amount to the accident.

Kirk filed a motion for sanctions against Mercury Insurance Company this week. In the motion, Kirk claims the insurance company persuaded defense witness Helen Brockman to lie about witnessing the 2006 motorcycle crash.

Brockman admitted to having mental illness and learning disabilities during her testimony in the case. She testified that she saw Kirk from her apartment and that he was riding drunk, swerving and speeding.

Kirk admitted to drinking prior to the accident during his trial.
In rebuttal, the plaintiff put Brockman's landlord on the stand. He produced her hand-written rental application for her Ridge Street apartment. It shows that Brockman didn't rent the apartment until six months following the accident.

Brockman also testified that she had been recruited by investigators for the trial. In the motion, the plaintiff says those investigators were hired by Mercury.

"Ms. Brockman was spoon fed her 'facts,'" the plaintiff's motion reads. "Plaintiff has reason to suspect that Mercury offered bribes to people to testify at trial. Perpetration of fraud is not favored. This Court should not allow Mercury to get away with the fabrication of witnesses."

In his closing argument, plaintiff's attorney Chris Kolker hammered at Brockman's testimony and urged jurors to award his client $5 million.

Defense attorney Mark Kurz pointed to Kirk's drinking and argued he'd caused the crash and his injuries by riding his motocycle drunk.

Kirk asks for a full evidentiary hearing on the matter and that Circuit Judge David Hylla, who is presiding over the case, require four of Mercury's employees to appear.

The plaintiff is seeking $500,000 in sanctions.

Kirk is represented by Kolker and Amy Meyer.

Hamiti is represented by Kurz.

The case is Madison case number 07-L-165.

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