New trial denied in Moto Mart slip and fall case

Amelia Flood Dec. 3, 2009, 6:21am



Although both sides in a Madison County slip and fall case asked for a new trial, neither will get one.

Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder has denied plaintiff and defense motions for a new trial in a complaint against the owner of the Moto Mart convenience store chain.

John Linkes was awarded $389,664.41 by a jury Sept. 21 in his injury suit against FKG Oil.

FKG had argued it should get a new trial because Crowder directed the jury's verdict on the issue of liability in the case brought by Linkes and his wife, Linda, who claimed loss of consortium.

The jury considered only damages in the case.

Crowder, in her Dec. 1 order, also denied the plaintiff's plea for an addition to their awarded damages.

The plaintiffs asked for a new trial because they believed the damages were not enough in light of the evidence and the conduct of the defendant, according to plaintiff's counsel Gordon Broom.

During closing arguments, Broom asked for $2 million in damages.

Defense attorney Victor Avellino argued at the Nov. 4 hearing on the motions that Crowder's directed verdict was unfair to his clients and that she ignored evidence vindicating them.

Broom contended at the same hearing that just as judges have decreased awards in other cases, Crowder should increase the award to his clients or order a new trial on the damages.

The Linkeses claimed FKG's employees were negligent and disregarded their own safety protocols by misplacing a wet floor sign after mopping in March 2007. John Linkes slipped at the Edwardsville Moto Mart and tore several ligaments in his knee.

The September trial was heated with Broom and Avellino sparring and interrupting each other, features that have continued in subsequent hearings.

During the trial, FKG's CEO Robert Forsyth admitted his staff didn't follow safety procedures that applied. Employees testified to mopping the floor.

The directed verdict came after FKG produced a document it claimed it didn't have shortly before the trial's end. The testimony of several employees and Forsyth differed from their answers to interrogatories and from what was shown by survelliance footage during the trial.

Crowder had previously sanctioned the company for discovery problems. She directed the verdict in favor of the plaintiffs.

"Nothing upsets me more ... than people who don't take their obligations in this system seriously," she told the defendants.

In addition to denying the new trial moves, Crowder assessed $9,638.25 in attorney's fees to the plaintiffs and granted $2,082.50 in costs.

The trial began Sept. 14.

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

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