Plaintiffs begin case in Edwardsville Middle School accident trial

Amelia Flood May 18, 2010, 9:59am


Testimony in a case stemming from a December 1997 accident at Edwardsville Middle School got under way Tuesday in Madison County after a day of jury selection Monday.

The case, originally filed in 1998, involves the then 11 year-old student, Cecil Dial Jr., who was struck by defendant Brad Joiner's SUV as he tried to cross the street after getting out of his mother's van.

Witnesses in the plaintiffs' case included Douglas Head, a former engineer with the Federal Highway Commission, who took the stand Tuesday afternoon to discuss his recreation of the accident.

According to court records, Joiner had just dropped his own child off and testified that he had looked away for a moment before hitting the boy, who as a result, suffered a major head injury.

The first trial in the case saw the jury sequestered and a move for a mistrial after the defense claimed the plaintiffs, the boy and his father, Cecil Dial Jr., had employed "ambush" tactics by withholding a white van involved in the accident.

The court allowed the trial to go on. The case went to a Madison County jury, which found for Joiner.

However, then presiding judge, former Madison County Associate Judge
Ralph Mendelsohn granted the plaintiffs' request for a new trial.

The Fifth District Appellate Court at Mount Vernon sided with Mendelsohn.

The case came back to Madison County in 2005.

On Tuesday, Head testified about reaction time involved in the accident.

He testified that Cecil Dial Jr. was not "darting" into traffic from the evidence he analyzed.

Head also stated that Joiner should have been more alert because he was driving in a school zone.

"He should be on heightened alert," Head said of Joiner's driving on the day of the accident. "Kids can act crazy."

Joiner had previously testified as did other witnesses at the first trial that he did not brake before hitting the boy.

Joiner argues that Cecil Dial Jr. contributed to the accident and his injuries.

The trial broke for 15 minutes around 2:35 p.m. Tuesday so a technical glitch could be fixed.

The trial was set to resume at about 3 p.m. with the cross examination of Head.

Two other defendants in the case, Edwardsville Community Unit School District #7 and the boy's mother, settled with the plaintiffs.

Joiner has filed a claim for set-off against them in the case.
Jury selection lasted in Monday afternoon.

Madison County Associate Judge Clarence Harrison presides.

The plaintiffs are represented by Roy Dripps.

Joiner is represented by Stephen Mudge.

The case is Madison case number 1998-L-899.

More News