A mistrial was declared this week in an injured trucker’s eight-year-old personal injury/product liability case against a trio of companies, one of the defendants' attorneys said today.
Opening arguments over the suit that Mark Graham brought in 2005 against Cassens Corp., Cassens & Sons and Bostrom Seating took place Wednesday, the same day a court employee said an order declaring a mistrial was entered.
Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowded presided over the case.
Edwardsville attorney Michael Bedesky, who represented Cassens & Sons, said the mistrial occurred after an exhibit was shown to the jury that shouldn't have been.
Crowder wrote in an order granting a plaintiff's motion in limine, after the mistrial occurred, that defendants "are not allowed to interject other medical conditions, other injuries or other possible medical causes absent submission of sufficient medical testimony to establish such is more probable than not..."
In the meantime, Crowder has ordered the case be mediated by Oct. 30.
Trial has been reset for Jan. 13, 2014.
Graham’s suit stems from a low back injury he asserts he sustained in 2004, at which time he was working for Cassens Transport, a car hauling division of Cassens Corp. and a third party defendant previously dismissed from the suit.
Claiming that his injury was caused by the alleged failure of his rig’s seat and its mounting brackets, Graham sought compensation for lost wages, disfigurement, decrease in employability, pain and suffering and medical bills.
During Wednesday’s opening statements, Graham’s attorney, Charles Armbruster of Alton, told jurors they would be “shocked” at how much money he wants for his client if he were to tell them the specific figure.
“At the end of this case we will come back and ask you for a specific dollar amount…” Armbruster said, adding that “Once you’ve heard the evidence you will be in a position to understand.”
He also told jurors that the physician who treated Graham – Dr. Robert Margolis – said that it was “more probably true than not” that the Bostrom seat in his 1997 International truck led to disc herniation.
Bostrom’s attorney, Mike Murphy of Belleville, told jurors during his opening argument that among five “histories” taken after Graham’s report of injury, “not once” was there mention of a broken seat or a problem with the rig’s seat.
He said that Graham did not see Margolis until four years after his alleged injury and that Graham’s other attorney, Brian Wendler of Edwardsville, chose Margolis, made the appointment and accompanied his client to it.
Murphy told jurors Wednesday that he would present evidence showing that its product was not defective, was not unreasonably dangerous and that Graham’s injury was not caused by its seat.
Attorney Troy Bozarth of HeplerBroom in Edwardsville represented Cassens Corp. He did not immediately return a message. An employee at Armbruster’s firm said he was out of the office today.