New trial denied in Rosewood negligence case

Amelia Flood Dec. 21, 2009, 5:14am


There will not be a third trial in a six year-old suit over an elderly man's fall that resulted in a mistrial the first time and a verdict of just under $150,000, the second time, in Madison County.

Circuit Judge David Hylla entered a four page order denying Rosewood Care Center of Edwardsville a new trial after its attorneys argued that a personal injury plaintiff's lawyer who served as a juror in April tainted the outcome.

Hylla entered his order Dec. 16.

Hylla heard more than three hours of arguments on the subject Sept. 14.

During those arguments, defense consul Dennis McCubbin pointed to advertising on a Web site about Missouri personal injury lawyers that stated juror Ray Alexander was "tired of helping the guilty," in reference to alleged defendants. McCubbin told the court that that and other statements on the site indicated that Alexander was biased toward the plaintiff. He further contended that one of his team members heard Alexander congratulate plaintiff's attorney Robert Gregory, saying he would call him later.

Gregory denied that allegation and pointed out that
Alexander had revealed his profession during voir dire and that McCubbin could have struck him from the jury pool.

McCubbin also alleged that the jury's foreperson, Perha Ramsey, could have unduly influenced the verdict, claiming she said she wanted to give plaintiff Paul Graves, the administrator of his father, Alfred's, estate, more money.

Hylla expressed his doubts about both claims during the hearing and spelled them out in the order.

"The court specifically finds that juror Ray Alexander...candidly and truthfully answered all questions posed to him," Hylla's Dec. 16 order notes.

"Defendant's contention that the content of Mr. Alexander's website, cited by defendant in its motion for a new trial as evidence of his prejudice, is misplaced. This advertising in no way equates to the sworn testimony giving [sic] by Mr. Alexander during voir dire."

Hylla had pointed out during the September hearing that both the Illinois and Missouri bar associations allow the kind of advertising that McCubbin alleged showed bias. The judge also noted that the Court could not be certain that Alexander even authored the statements on the Web site.

Hylla's order rejected all of the 18 grounds McCubbin cited as reasons for a third trial, ending with a bold-faced, underlined "Denied."

The first trial saw jury deliberations that lasted more than 10 hours without a verdict.

The second jury deliberated several hours as well before entering $149,115.13 for Paul Graves.

Hylla presided over both trials.

The case is Madison case number 03-L-1166.

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