Plaintiff in wrongful death suit seeks to strike defendant's evidence

By Christina Stueve Hodges | Feb 23, 2013


A woman whose children died in an apartment fire in Roxana is asking Madison County Circuit Judge Andreas Matoesian to strike “irrelevant portions of evidence” in an ongoing wrongful death case.

Tiffany Gresham and Toni Leeds, as special administrator of the estate of children who perished in the fire – Skye Nichole Gresham and Jason Matthew Gresham II – filed a lawsuit against Dawson M. Cooper last April over the fire that occurred in their upstairs apartment on Feb. 5, 2011.

On Feb. 19, plaintiff attorney Ryan J. Mahoney filed a notice of objection and motion to quash. He claims documents the defense wants to use at trial have irrelevant, prejudicial information.

According to Mahoney, Cooper seeks to admit into evidence plaintiff Gresham’s prior convictions of unlawful tampering with anhydrous ammonia equipment, a misdemeanor retail theft conviction, and a felony conviction for leaving the scene of an accident.

“All three remaining convictions occurred after the subject fire occurred, and at a time when Tiffany Gresham had lost her home and two of her children," the motion states. "The admission of these convictions is designed to confuse the jury on the real issues of the case, and improperly focus the inquiry on Tiffany Gresham’s criminal record."

Matoesian on Dec. 28 granted a petition filed by Gresham’s boyfriend to intervene as a plaintiff in the case. Michael Macarthy had lived with Gresham at the time of the fatal fire.

In his petition, Macarthy claims Cooper did not obtain proper permits or have proper inspections before allowing tenants to reside in the apartment.

Cooper responded to Macarthy's claims by saying he failed to notify him regarding problems with the apartment stove or oven. Cooper also claims Macarthy tampered with a carbon monoxide detector by moving it or removing the batteries.

“The conditions of which the plaintiff complains were open and obvious or known to him and/or created by him, thereby barring his recovery,” Cooper claims.

John Anderson and Andrew Martin of Anderson & Associates represent Macarthy.

William B. Starnes II of Reed, Armstrong, Mudge & Morrissey represents Cooper.

Madison County Circuit Court Case No. 2012-L-434

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