A trailer manufacturer named in wrongful death lawsuit is denying liability in a lawsuit filed over a construction worker's fatal injuries on I-64 in 2012.

Plaintiff Josie Lee Beard, special administrator of the estate of Dennis James Beard, filed the Sept. 29 lawsuit against John Thomas, Inc.

According to her complaint, the decedent was working for Brightway Striping Services Company as a construction laborer on May 12, 2012. He was allegedly removing and installing raised pavement markers on Interstate 64.

Near the 13-mile marker, eastbound in Caseyville, “he was struck by a Vorteq trailer mounted crash attenuator” after it was hit by a vehicle. The trailer was sold by John Thomas, Inc. the suit states.

The plaintiff says she discovered in September 2012 that the defendant had “failed to provide necessary equipment” to Brightway Leasing Corporation, including the attenuator’s pintel hitch and necessary instructions for the equipment’s use and repair.

In a Dec. 9 response, John Thomas, Inc. admitted that the decedent was fatally injured in an accident when Michael Jeter crashed into the rear end of a vehicle owned by Brightway Leasing Company.

However, it did not assume liability or admit that the trailer was defective.

Beard accuses John Thomas, Inc. of wrongful death for allegedly designing, manufacturing and improperly assembling a defective piece of equipment. She says the attenuator’s anti-rotational design “failed to engage, allowing the device to rotate and strike Dennis James Beard, who was standing adjacent” to it.

Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson is presiding over the case. He scheduled a case management conference for March 30 at 9 a.m.

The plaintiff brings this complaint on behalf of the couple’s three children, ages 6, 10 and 14.

She seeks more than $50,000 for loss of society, companionship, support, love and affection.

Beard is represented by Bruce R. Cook and Bruce N. Cook of Belleville.

Douglas R. Heise of Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen in Edwardsville represent John Thomas, Inc.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 14-L-661

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