Jurors deliberated less than an hour Tuesday morning before awarding a plaintiff in Madison County rear end accident case $20,000.

Rudolph Muzzarelli sued the estate of Matthew Evans for injuries he received in a 2006 car accident in Granite City. He claimed his back, neck and head were injured at the time of the accident.

Muzzarelli had sought at least $50,000 in damages.

The issue of liability was decided in Muzzarelli's favor before trial.

Evans died in a separate traffic accident after the case was filed.

The damages-only trial got off to a contentious start Monday afternoon as plaintiff's counsel Rick Verticchio moved for a mistrial on the grounds that his opponent, Thomas Zimmer, had violated a motion in limine and various pre-trial agreements barring the mentions related to insurance companies.

Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis denied the move, expressing her displeasure with the move that came in the middle of opening statements.

"I really wish you hadn't done that," Callis told the attorneys.

Callis took over the case from Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel
Stack last year due to Stack's announced retirement.

Stack will leave the bench later this year.

Callis transferred over 100 of his cases including the Muzzarelli case last December.

Deliberations began at 9:50 a.m. The verdict was returned around 10:20 a.m.

The case is Madison case number 08-L-151.

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