Suit blames almond-eating, barge-watching driver for causing accident

Kelly Holleran Jul. 10, 2012, 3:00am


A Godfrey man seeks more than $1 million after he says a distracted driver who was eating almonds and watching barges struck his vehicle.

Jerry L. Ellington filed a lawsuit June 20 in Madison County Circuit Court against Linda Dunnagan.

In his complaint, Ellington alleges he drove a 2002 Ford F-150 south on McAdams Parkway in Godfrey on July 26, 2010, when he encountered stopped traffic. As Ellington stopped for traffic, Dunnagan, who was driving a 2003 Honda Acura behind him, struck his vehicle, according to the complaint.

At the time of the collision, Dunnagan was very distracted, eating almonds and watching barges on the nearby Mississippi River, the suit states.

"Drivers that knowingly, willfully and wantonly engage in distracted driving pose a serious and deadly risk to everyone on the road," the complaint says. "By knowingly, willfully and wantonly operating her 2003 Honda Acura TL on McAdams Parkway while watching barges on the Mississippi River, eating almonds and operating her vehicle too fast for conditions, the defendant, Linda Dunnagan, acted in conscious disregard for a substantial and unjustifiable risk of death or injury to others, including the plaintiff, and deviated from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise under the circumstances."

Because of the collision, Ellington claims he suffered severe and disabling injuries, incurred medical costs, was hindered and prevented from attending to his usual duties and lost wages.

Ellington blames Dunnagan for causing the collision, saying she negligently failed to stop for vehicles, drove too fast, failed to keep a proper lookout for traffic, failed to stop or swerve to avoid a collision, failed to stop to avoid a collision, failed to reduce her speed to avoid a collision, drove in a distracted manner and drove too fast for conditions.

Ellington seeks punitive damages of more than $1 million and a judgment of more than $50,000, plus costs.

Mark S. Schuver and William J. Nichoff of Mathis, Marifian and Richter in Belleville will be representing him.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-865.

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