A Madison County jury on Tuesday found in favor of the plaintiff at the end of a two-day damages trial in Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge's courtroom.
The jury awarded an Edwardsville woman $8,081 over injuries she sustained in a car accident with a St. Louis man in 2010.
Rebecca Lanter, 50, filed the lawsuit Dec. 6, 2010, following the Nov. 9 accident. She claimed her neck, shoulder and low back were injured after she was rear-ended by Gary Taylor's small car.
During closing arguments, plaintiff's attorney Kristina Cooksey requested $30,000. Defense attorney Martin Clay suggested $3,632.
Lanter was westbound on Rock Road at the intersection of Illinois Route 3 in Granite City, where the accident occurred.
Clay told the jury Lanter showed no signs of pain when she was in the hospital, or the emergency room would not have released her.
"I don't believe $30,000 is a reasonable amount of money for being in an accident," Clay said.
Cooksey reminded the jury what she had told them during opening arguments.
"She was taken off work for her injuries," Cooksey said. "Movement exacerbated her pain. Even though she was taking medication, she wasn't doing well."
Cooksey said Lanter did not have neck, head or back problems prior to the accident.
"Life changed for her after the accident," Cooksey said
Lanter could not carry laundry baskets like she used to, Cooksey said.
"The defense admits he was negligent," Cooksey said. "The defendant also admits his negligence was a proximate cause of injuries to the plaintiff."
Lanter, who has a master's degree in social work from St. Louis University, works for Chestnut Health Systems. She earns $15.39 per hour.
She testified before the jury that Taylor, a firefighter for the city of St. Louis, didn't want her to contact police after the accident.
The impact from the accident was sudden, and her head went forward, she said.
Clay told the jury that there was no dispute that the accident happened, but at no time did Lanter complain of any injury.
"They both went home," Clay said. "She only complained of moderate pain at the ER."
The hospital will always provide instructions on back and neck complaints, Clay said.
"The next thing is that seven days later, she had gone to her attorneys' office," he said.
Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-1215.