Mother testifies in Edwardsville Middle School accident trial

By Amelia Flood | May 20, 2010


The mother of a then-11 year old boy hit by a car at Edwardsville Middle School 13 years ago testified through tears Wednesday about her son's accident.

Constance Dial's son, Cecil Dial Jr., is suing the driver of that car, Brad Joiner, for allegedly looking away from the road and hitting him.

Cecil Dial Jr., now 24, suffered a massive head injury. His mother testified that medical bills have topped $145,000.

Constance Dial testified Wednesday morning about her recollection of the accident and her son's recovery since then.

This week's trial is the second in the case.

The first ended in a verdict for Joiner.

However, then-presiding judge, Madison County Associate Judge Ralph Mendelsohn, granted the plaintiffs' request for a new trial.

The appellate court agreed with Mendelsohn and remanded the case back to Madison County for a new trial.

Joiner denies that he caused the accident and alleges that Cecil Dial Jr. contributed to it.

Joiner also has a claim for set-off against former defendants Constance Dial and the Edwardsville Community Unit School District #7 pending.

Constance Dial testified under direct examination by her son's attorney Roy Dripps that she had cautioned him to look both ways before crossing the road.

She testified that her son did.

Constance Dial testified that she did not remember seeing Joiner's SUV prior to the accident. She said she did see it strike her son during direct examination and cross examination.

"I was just worried about my son," she said.

She testified that Joiner "blurted out" that papers had slid from his dashboard and he'd looked away from the road before hitting her son.

Constance Dial testified about leaving the accident, seeing spinal fluid leak from her son's ears.

She spoke through tears and was clearly emotional.

When asked by Dripps if Joiner ever visited her son or sent a card during his recovery, Constance Dial said the defendant had not ever done so.

Over time, Cecil Dial Jr. did recover, she said, although the injury greatly decreased his ability to complete normal school courses.

While he currently holds a job as a cook, his mother said that he had trouble remembering instructions and that the memory loss had caused him to lose jobs before.

She also testified the injury adversely impacted his daily life. For example, she testified, her son could not operate a riding lawn mower that she and her husband purchased for him because the instructions became confusing.

She testified that her son had become easily irritable and frustrated after the accident.

On cross examination, defense counsel Stephen Mudge questioned her about her testimony in a deposition in which she remembered Joiner admitting to looking away from the road.

Constance Dial admitted that recollection was not at the time of the accident but rather days later while at her son's hospital bed.

She also admitted that she seemed to recall her husband telling her that Joiner had called the hospital to ask about her son. She also acknowledged Joiner performed CPR on Cecil and called 911 immediately after the accident.

"Wouldn't you think it would be odd that a person giving CPR to a critically injured person would be talking about papers on a dash board?" Mudge asked her.

Mudge questioned her about where her son was in the road. The road did not, according to testimony, have either a cross walk or a center line.

There has been some dispute as to whether Cecil Dial Jr. was in Joiner's lane of traffic or his own before he was hit.

"No I don't agree," Constance Dial said. "My son didn't walk into Mr. Joiner's vehicle. Mr. Joiner hit my son."

Mudge questioned her as well about the lawnmower specifically, asking if Cecil Dial Jr. could drive a car. His mother testified he did.

"And you're letting him drive a motor vehicle when he cannot operate a lawn mower?" Mudge asked.

"Yes," I am," she answered, "because there are more steps to driving a lawn mower than there are to driving a car."

She also agreed that her son was able to carry on relationships, did not have seizures or have trouble sleeping after the accident.

The trial began Monday with a day of jury selection.

Tuesday saw the trial's start and the beginning of the plaintiffs' case.

An accident reconstruction expert rounded out Tuesday afternoon's testimony.

The trial will continue Thursday.

Madison County Associate Judge Clarence Harrison II presides.

The case is Madison case number 1998-L-899.

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