Just Ask Gonzo: Mazda suit moves to Peoria, Sunbeam settles with burn victim

By Steve Gonzalez | Jan 24, 2006

Question: I read your very first paper back in 2004 when I stopped by for a latte at Sacred Grounds in downtown Edwardsville. I enjoyed it but I was only in town to visit a friend at SIU for a couple of days. I doubted that you would still be in print the next time I would come to visit, but to my surprise you are still here.

I saw that you were updating old cases so I decided to check on two that fascinated me.

There was a case where a woman who was injured in a car accident sued the driver, the manufacturer and I think the person who designed the road. That case really got my attention so, if you would be so kind, I would appreciate if you could check on the status of it.

Also, if you have time can you also tell me what is going on with the guy that burned his gluteus maximus on the heating pad causing his wife to be deprived of love, an instant classic. Thanks.

Rafe Northumberland
Macomb, Ill.

Gonzo: Well, the first case was filed by Madison County resident Mary Ubaudi.

Ubaudi, who was a passenger in a 2001 Mazda Miata driven by co-defendant William Humphrey of DuPage County, filed suit against him, Mazda, and a road construction contractor on Nov. 17, 2004.

She alleges Humphrey was driving too fast on northbound Interstate 55 in McClean County on Sept. 17, 2003, when he lost control of his car. The vehicle overturned and Ubaudi was ejected, according to the complaint.

She also is suing Rowe Construction of Tazewell County for at least $50,000. The company was under contract by the Illinois Department of Transportation to do road patching and resurfacing work.

According to the complaint, Rowe allegedly failed to provide proper and reasonably safe traffic control devices for road construction, failed to properly maintain the public highway in a safe and navigable condition during the road project and failed to provide guardrails or railings during the construction project.

Mazda is being sued for damages in excess of $150,000 by Ubaudi because she alleges the front passenger restraint system failed to restrain her in the car, the restraint system failed to provide protection and the manufacturer failed to provide instructions regarding the safe and proper use of a seatbelt.

Ubaudi sustained severe and life-threatening injuries to her head, neck, arms, legs and back she claims as a result of being ejected.

She is represented by Michael Weilmuenster of Belleville.

In July 2005, Madison County Judge George Moran transferred the case out of Madison County to Peoria County after the defendants filed a motion claiming Madison County was not a proper forum for the case.

The second case you refer to was filed by Larry and Wanda Goodrich of Maryville in December 2004, against the maker and retailer of Sunbeam model 734 heating pad.

They claim their Sunbeam heating pad lacked an automatic shut-off feature, which caused Larry suffered a severe burn.

We did not report on what part of the body was burned.

Wanda claims she has "been permanently deprived of the love, companionship, support and consortium" to which she was entitled.

Represented by Thomas Q Keefe, Jr. of Belleville, the Goodriches are seeking damages in excess of $450,000 from Sunbeam and American Household--the designers and manufactures of the heating pad--and also from Walgreen Co., where the product was purchased.

Goodrich claims that he has suffered permanent pain, mental anguish, disability, and disfigurement. He also incurred large amounts of hospital, medical, and related expenses, and will incur additional amounts in the future.

The suit contends that Larry is prevented from attending to his usual affairs and duties and he has lost substantial wages and income, past, present, and future.

In August 2005, it appears as though Sunbeam settled with them and were dropped from the suit, leaving only two defendants.

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