Fifth District affirms Hylla in pedestrian's appeal of defense verdict

By Ann Maher | Dec 31, 2013

Madison County Circuit Judge Dave has been affirmed by the Fifth District Appellate Court in an injured pedestrian’s appeal of a July 2012 defense verdict.

MaryLynn Dixon of Glen Carbon had sued the driver of a pickup truck, Edwardsville High School student William Maggart, over injuries she suffered while crossing five lanes of Route 159 near the intersection of Dogwood Estate at 7 a.m. on April 17, 2009.

Maggart, who was 19 at the time, was on his way to school and testified that he had not seen Dixon or her walking companion before he struck Dixon in the center lane of the roadway not designated as a crosswalk.

At trial, Dixon’s attorney Keith Short had asked jurors to award his client $129,799.

Short told the jury in Hylla’s court that Dixon’s head split open, and she fell to the ground after impact.

“She was that close to getting killed,” Short said. “She ended up with a two-inch scar across her forehead.

“There was a young man who decided he was going to pull out without looking. You might hear him say the sun was in his eyes. The evidence will show he wasn’t looking.”

Maggart’s attorney James Hodges told jurors that Dixon’s negligence caused her injuries.

He also said his client looked both ways before crossing, but that Dixon stood in a lane reserved for vehicles and failed to use a crosswalk.

In a non-precedential ruling issued Dec. 13, the Fifth District held that “evidence of the dangers of the crossing and plaintiff's failure to keep a proper lookout made the reasonableness of the actions of the parties a matter for determination by the jury.”

Justice Richard Goldenhersh wrote for the three-judge panel. Justices Thomas Welch and James Wexstten concurred.

Goldenhersh wrote that the plaintiff phrased the issues in terms of whether the circuit court properly denied her motions for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict and for a new trial.

“The circuit court properly denied these motions,” he wrote. “The record displays that the jury was presented with substantial factual disputes and that the verdict was not against the manifest weight of the evidence.

“Such motions do not call for reweighing the evidence or setting aside a verdict just because the jury could have drawn different inferences or conclusions.

“The record presents questions of fact that were the primary function of the jury to resolve, and the evidence was sufficient to support its verdict.”

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