Defense continues with deposition testimony in Ste. Genevieve, Mo. tractor trailer crash trial

Amelia Flood Nov. 16, 2010, 9:58am



An eye doctor, safety director and Missouri Highway Patrol investigator were among those testifying live and by deposition as the defense case continued in a suit over injuries caused by a tractor trailer accident along a Missouri highway three years ago.

Madison County jurors were hearing deposition testimony as of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday as the trial continued in its second week.

Plaintiffs Thomas and Betty Edwards are suing Millstadt Rendering Company and fellow truck driver Gary Collier for damages in excess of $50,000.

The truck Thomas Edwards was driving crashed into a container that Collier had been hauling and lost along Interstate 55 in Ste. Genevieve County, Mo. causing him severe injuries.

Millstadt and Collier claim that Thomas Edwards should not have been driving that night in September 2007 due to fatigue and vision problems caused by diabetes.

Thomas Edwards' employer, Slay Transportation Inc., filed to intervene in the case earlier this year.

Slay has sought to recover damage to its property caused by the accident.

Counterclaims for contribution are pending against Slay.

The trial opened last week.

The defense quizzed officer Brent Fowler of the Missouri Highway Patrol in a deposition presented after the lunch break about his measurements at the crash scene and where Collier's tank container had come off.

Fowler's deposition was previously heard in the plaintiff's case last week.

The defense went on to present testimony from Slay's director of safety, Edward Hanks.

Hanks testified that he did not know what happened to Thomas Edwards' driving logs and that taking insulin disqualifies a person
from driving under most federal regulations.

An eye doctor who examined Thomas Edwards at times before and after the accident testified next.

Dr. Wen Chen of East Alton testified via deposition that high blood sugar levels can reduce a person's visual accuracy and potentially cause blur.

The changes, Chen said under questioning by defense counsel Dominique Seymoure, could happen in a matter of days.

Chen testified that he found Thomas Edwards' eye sight to be within the legal driving range in 2004.

In a visit in March of this year, Chen found the plaintiff's vision to be at 20/25 or nearly normal.

Under cross examination, Chen testified that blood sugar levels don't determine what vision a person has.

Chen also agreed that factors such as lighting, concentration or other illness can impact how well a person performs on an eye test.

The doctor went on to testify under cross examination that in visits following the accident in 2008 and 2010, Thomas Edwards' vision did not change from the 20/25 mark.

A mark of 20/20, according to Chen, is considered average vision for most people.

The deposition of the chiropractor who certified Thomas Edwards to drive trucks in October 2006 was being read as of 3:30 p.m.

That witness, Brian Forbes of Granite City, testified that although
he certified the plaintiff to drive, he would not have done so if he had known another health care provider found high glucose measures and failed Thomas Edwards' on his tests earlier that month.

Both Chen and Forbes' testimony was read to jurors over plaintiffs' counsel Eric Carlson's objections.

The trial began last week.

Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis presides.

Eric and Jon Carlson represent the Edwardses.

Michael Ward and Joseph Swift represent Slay.

Dominique Seymoure and Martin Morrissey represent Millstadt and

The case is Madison case number 08-L-813.

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