Edwardsville rear-end injury case comes back with new trial

By Amelia Flood | May 14, 2009


A 2004 auto accident case that was sent back to Madison County by the Fifth District Appellate Court opens with a new trial Monday.

Madison Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth will preside. The trial will only address the issue of damages.

The case was brought by Walter Spearman, a retired coal worker in December 2002. Spearman was rear-ended by Michael Sunley and claimed neck and other injuries. The suit's original trial ended with a verdict for the plaintiff.

However, the case was appealed due to the fact that the jury only awarded Spearman damages for his nearly $63,000 in medical bills. Spearman had asked for damages for past and future medical expenses, past and future disfigurement, disability and pain.

The appeals court ruled in 2008 that the jury's verdict was inconsistent. A new trial was ordered.

Shortly after the June 2006 verdict, Spearman's then attorney Robert Edmonds, asked for a new trial. Then-Madison Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron upheld the jury's decision.

In its ruling, the appeals court held that "the jury was presented with ample objective evidence of Spearman's pain and suffering and disfigurement," and that the jury should have added damages accordingly. The court also ruled that Byron had overstepped his discretion by denying Edmonds' motion.

The trial is set to begin at 9 a.m. Monday.

Spearman is currently represented by Rodney Caffey, according to court documents. Sunley is represented by Edwardsville attorney Stephen Mudge.

The case is Madison case number 04-L-007.

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