Stobbs orders defendant to be deposed and 'answer questions truthfully'

Christina Stueve May 15, 2012, 9:45am


Madison County Associate Judge Steven Stobbs on May 9 ordered a defendant in a man's personal injury case to appear at the plaintiff attorney's office in Alton to be "deposed and answer questions truthfully."

Hahne's Towing was sued in 2007 by a former tow truck driver who claimed the company failed to pay him minimum wage and failed to pay overtime.

Plaintiff Carnell Williams also sued owners Michael and Katherine Hahne for slander, alleging they gave his potential employers a bad reference.

Stobbs also continued a hearing in the case from May 9 to June 27 to allow the defendant to purge themselves of contempt.

At a May 9 hearing, the defendant provided some of the documents sought by the plaintiff.

On April 11, Stobbs found the defendants to be in contempt of a Nov. 30 order that Hahne's Towing pay plaintiff's attorney Lee Barron $1,000 a month from Feb. 1 until July 1. Stobbs stated that he would re-evaluate the case in July.

According to that order, Hahne agreed to provide Barron with tax returns from the last three years, bank statements, credit applications from the last 12 months, loan documents, showing outstanding debt on vehicles, equipment, homes and businesses and a contract with AAA.

Williams claimed he worked at the towing company from June 16, 2005, until Feb. 16, 2006, and received an initial salary of $350 per week which was later raised to $400 a week.

"Defendants paid Plaintiff approximately $5.00 per hour," the complaint stated. "Plaintiff worked at least 72 hours per week."

Stobbs also wrote in his April 11 order that "the compliance" was to be received by the plaintiff's counsel by May 1.

According to Williams, after he was terminated and was seeking employment at other towing companies, the owners told potential employers that he lacked ability to be a tow truck driver by damaging company and customer vehicles.

"Defendants' comments to Williams' potential employers were said with malice toward plaintiff and without justification," the complaint stated.

Williams alleged the untrue statements that were made against him cost him job opportunities and emotional distress.

Plaintiff Williams filed a March 1 motion to hold the defendants in contempt, claiming the defense ignored efforts to enforce and collect "this judgment."

The plaintiff also requested Stobbs to enter an order finding Hahne and Hahne Towing in contempt of court. The plaintiff ordered that Hahne be arrested and confined until he purged himself of contempt.

Richard W. Schaefer of the Schaefer Law Firm in Belleville represents Hahne's Towing.

Madison County case number 07-L-788

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