Hylla denies defendant untimely jury demand in Collinsville school district suit

Amelia Flood Jan. 22, 2010, 6:25am


Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla will not allow the defendants in a breach of contract suit against the Collinsville school district to make an untimely jury demand.

The Collinsville Community Unit School District #10 and its board had moved in December to change from non-jury to jury trial. The defendants argued that new evidence discovered in a deposition has caused them to amend their counter-complaint against plaintiff Karen Eastby and that it warrants a jury's consideration.

The defendants also argued that a jury trial is "in the best interest of the tax payers."

The 2008 lawsuit and counter-complaint stem from a settlement Eastby reached with the Collinsville school district and board over claims that she was discriminated against and alleged violations of her First Amendment rights.

Eastby is currently suing the district, claiming they have not honored settlement terms.

The district in turn is suing Eastby for allegedly not living up to her part of the settlement agreement and entering settlement negotiations in bad faith.

Eastby seeks damages of at least $150,000 and costs.

The defendants seek damages of at least $100,000 and costs.

The plaintiff argued that the defendants had already waived their right to a jury trial when they failed to demand it on filing their answer to her suit. The plaintiff's response motion filed Jan. 15 argues that an amended answer doesn't substitute for the first answer when asking for a jury.

"No good cause has been shown here for the Defendants' request," the response motion reads.

Hylla heard the motion Jan. 22. He denied the jury demand but allowed the school district and board to file a motion to reconsider if they chose.

"To be honest with you," Hylla said during the motion's arguments, "any judge would rather have a jury decide things instead of a judge."

However, Hylla went on to say, the motion did not cite case law and or show the needed cause to reverse the format.

Eastby is represented by Greg Roosevelt.

The defendants are represented by Christi Flaherty.

The case is Madison case number 08-L-137.

More News