Crowder presides over trial in case against Boy Scouts and local Council

By Ann Maher | Jun 10, 2013

Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder is presiding over a case that went to trial today involving a camper’s injury claim against the Lewis & Clark Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Plaintiffs John and Brenda Gremli sued in 2011 claiming that while he was camping on July 22, 2010, a dead tree fell on John Gremli while he was sleeping in a tent at Camp Warren Levis in Godfrey.

The Gremlis allege that the Lewis & Clark Council failed to properly inspect and remove dead trees from campsites and failed to maintain the campsites in a safe condition. Boy Scouts of America also is named as a defendant. It has unsuccessfully argued for dismissal, saying it does not have local control over the premises or volunteers.

Motions to dismiss and for summary judgment were dismissed in March by Circuit Judge Dave Hylla, who stated that questions of fact remain.

The couple claims that injuries to John Gremli’s right leg were so severe that the leg had to be amputated above the knee. They are seeking in excess of $150,000 in damages.

They are represented by Robert Gregory of East Alton.

The defendants are represented by Bradley Hansmann and Kyle Christopher Oehmke of Brown & James in St. Louis.

Prospective jurors were being interviewed today.

Until recently, Crowder has not presided over major civil litigation cases since being removed from the court’s asbestos docket in December 2011.

Crowder was reassigned by former Chief Judge Ann Callis to the chancery, eminent domain and miscellaneous remedies dockets after it was revealed she had accepted $30,000 in campaign contributions from the area’s top three asbestos firms after making a ruling that was favorable to them. Crowder later returned the donations.

Callis stepped down from the bench last month to pursue a bid for Congress. In her place, Hylla was elected chief judge.

Hylla, who had presided over the Gremlis’ case, transferred it to Crowder on May 6. Hylla has also assigned at least one other major civil case to Crowder. He has been contacted to comment on what appears to be a new role for Crowder.

The case is Madison case number 11-L-021.

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