Bethany Krajelis Nov. 26, 2012, 5:01pm

A St. Clair County lawsuit over a 2010 car crash has been moved to federal court.

Jonika Sawyer, the defendant in the suit, filed a notice of removal and answer to plaintiff Adam Clark’s complaint last week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

The federal court in East St. Louis, Sawyer asserts, has jurisdiction over the suit because the two parties live in different states and the matter in controversy exceeds $75,000. Sawyer’s notice states that she lives in Florida and Clark resides in St. Clair County.

Clark filed the complaint in July in the St. Clair County Circuit Court, claiming he sustained injuries in an Oct. 4, 2010 car crash as a result of Sawyer’s carelessness and negligence.

Clark contends he was driving north on North Sixth Street in Mascoutah when Sawyer, who was driving south on the same street, attempted to make a left-hand turn in front of his vehicle and struck it.

The collision left Clark with injuries to his right shoulder, neck and back, the complaint asserts, adding that he has incurred more than $34,000 in medical costs and will “continue to experience pain and suffering as a result of his injuries in the future.”

Clark’s complaint, which accuses Sawyer of driving too fast and failing to keep a lookout  and avoid the collision, seeks a judgment of more than $50,000, as well as costs.

In her recently-filed notice of removal, Sawyer states that damages could potentially exceed $75,000 and that Clark “is currently demanding $100,000 for full and final settlement of this case.”

Sawyer admits in her answer all of the allegations lodged in Clark’s complaint, except for one that lists her as a resident of St. Clair County.

Sawyer, however, claims that Clark “failed to state a cause of action for which relief may be granted.” She also asserts as an affirmative defense that Clark failed to keep a safe lookout for his own safety, keep his vehicle under control, apply his brakes and reduce his speed to avoid the collision.

“As such, Plaintiff’s claims should be barred, or in the alternative, if Plaintiff’s negligence is determined to be less than 50 percent of the total proximate cause, Plaintiff’s damages should be reduced in proportion to Plaintiff’s comparative negligence and relative degree of fault,” Sawyer’s answer states.

Beth Boggs and Kevin Clark of Boggs, Avellino, Lach & Boggs in St. Louis represent Sawyer.

Andrew Toennies of Lashly and Baer in St. Louis represents Clark.

The federal case citation is 3:12-CV-1202.

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