Madison County jury awards couple whopping $3 million in personal injury suit

Amelia Flood Nov. 18, 2010, 4:55am



Former truck driver Thomas Edwards and his wife, Betty, were awarded more than $3 million in damages by a Madison County jury in their personal injury trial.

The Edwardses filed suit two years ago against truck driver Gary Collier and his employer Millstadt Rendering Company over a 2007 tractor trailer crash on Interstate 55 in Ste. Genevieve County, Mo.

Thomas Edwards was severely injured when the tractor trailer he was driving crashed into part of Collier's rig that had crossed the median of I-55 into his lane of traffic.

The jury awarded Thomas Edwards $2.5 million in damages and his wife $800,000.

It also found in favor of Thomas Edwards' employer, Slay Transporation Inc., which sought to recover $110,863.08 in property damage.

Slay filed to intervene in the case earlier this year.

The jury found that although Slay and Thomas Edwards were seven
percent liable for the accident, Collier and Millstadt were 93 percent at fault.

Jurors reached the verdict at about 7:15 p.m. Wednesday.

The case was tried under Missouri law.

Total damages, such as medical bills, was not enumerated in the verdict sheet.

The trial spanned into two weeks as pre-trial motions and jury selection delayed the opening of testimony in the case until Nov. 10.

Plaintiffs contended that Collier, who had worked more than 19 hours on the day of the accident, fell asleep or otherwise lost control of his tractor trailer, going off the road.

That action, according to testimony in the plaintiffs' case, caused a tanker Collier was hauling to come loose, cross the median and enter the oncoming traffic lane that Edwards had entered.

No witness in either case testified that Thomas Edwards could have avoided hitting the tanker.

The defense argued that Thomas Edwards did not slow down to avoid the accident and that his vision was impaired due to uncontrolled diabetes.

It also claimed that Collier's tires exploded, causing him to lose control and that there was nothing he could have done to prevent the accident.

The defense also took issue with measurements and the reconstruction of the accident done by an investigator from the Missouri Highway Patrol, Brent Fowler.

During closing arguments, plaintiff's counsel Eric Carlson told jurors the defense was trying to confuse a simple case.

His counterpart, Martin Morrissey, argued that Carlson was "mudslinging" and pointed to two of Collier's tires present in the courtroom as proof of the tire blow out theory.

Eric and Jon Carlson represented the Edwardses.

Joseph Swift and Michael Ward represented Slay.

Martin Morrissey and Dominique Seymoure represented Collier and

Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis presided.

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

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