Mannheim responds to punitive damages request; pre-trial Tuesday in tow truck suit

Amelia Flood Jan. 3, 2011, 5:21am


The employer of a tow truck driver who killed a man and his infant son three years ago in a Granite City accident has filed its opposition to a request for punitive damages.

Meanwhile, there is no word on whether any of the parties in the case brought by plaintiffs Jessica Ellen Legens and Regions Bank have settled, as indicated by a late December docket entry.

The case against Mannheim Services Corporation, its former driver Mark Ikerman, Mac & Mick's Sports Bar, and the owners of Sparky's Pub 397 is set for a pre-trial conference on Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Jessica Legens and the bank are suing all of the defendants for the wrongful deaths of Donald Legens Sr. and his nine-month-old son, Donald Legens Jr. in 2008.

Both were killed when a tow truck driven by Ikerman hit their car, pushing it into Donald Legens Sr. who was outside the vehicle at the time.

Ikerman faces criminal charges in Granite City in connection with the incident.

The plaintiffs are seeking to add punitive damages claims to their case.

Ikerman has already filed his opposition to the move arguing that the bank doesn't make a proper case for adding the damages.

In its Dec. 21 opposition, Mannheim argues that the Illinois State Supreme Court has rejected attempts to add common law punitive damages in death cases.

Mannheim argues that the cases cited by the plaintiffs in seeking to add the damages to Donald Legens Jr.'s claims depart from the Supreme Court's earlier decisions denying the additions.

Mannheim argues the damages are unwarranted by Donald Legens Jr., who also died from injuries related to the accident.

"Here, the Plaintiff is requesting that this court disregard the express terms of the Illinois Survival Act and to disregard the Illinois Supreme Court precedents," the motion reads. "The plaintiff does acknowledge . . . that he is promoting a radical break from precedent. Illinois personal injury lawyers have made similar efforts in the past to encourage courts to depart from the well-established rule prohibiting punitive damages in death cases. These efforts have been uniformly rejected."

Mannheim also argues that the plaintiff does not allege any conduct on the company's part that rises to the level needed to meet awarding punitive damages.

The case is set for trial later this month.

A docket entry in the case indicates that the parties were to inform presiding judge Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla of their settlement status last month.

There has not been an update in the case's docket reflecting a settlement between any of the parties.

Kevin Davidson represents the plaintiffs.

Joel Groenewold of Chicago represents Ikerman.

Donald O'Meara of Chicago and others represent Manheim.

Ralph Derango represents Mac & Mick's.

John Cunningham represents Mark and Mary Eddleman, the owners of
Sparky's 397 Pub.

The case is Madison case number 08-L-1113.

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