A truck driver being sued over the death of Illinois state trooper Kyle Deatherage has asserted his Fifth Amendment privilege in response to the lawsuit.
Plaintiff Sarah Deatherage claims she and her two children have suffered grief, mental anguish and depression after their husband and father was killed during a routine traffic stop on Interstate 55 near Litchfield on Nov. 26.
Kyle Deatherage, who was 32, died immediately when the vehicle driven by Johnny Felton struck him as he was standing near mile post 62, according to media reports of the accident.
Sarah Deatherage blames Felton's employer Dot Foods for causing her husband’s death, saying the company negligently hired a truck driver who it knew to be a threat to the public.
She also names Felton as a defendant, saying he operated the truck when he knew he was not medically fit to do so.
In Felton’s answer and affirmative defense filed July 24 by his attorney Donald Ohl of Edwardsville, he claims a criminal prosecution is pending in Montgomery County where the incident occurred.
In order to avoid any inadvertent waiver of his Fifth Amendment constitutional right against self incrimination, Felton asserted the privilege as his answer and affirmative defense to the plaintiff’s complaint, his answer states.
A motion hearing is set for 9 a.m. Aug. 23.
Felton and DOT Transportation filed a motion for a protective order July 23 for the event data recorder (EDR) on the tractor trailer.
They say the Illinois State Police has the tractor trailer and has driven the truck in excess of 100 miles, according to the motion.
“It is unknown whether the miles driven by the Illinois State Police post accident have in any way altered or destroyed any data which may have existed on the EDR post accident,” the motion states.
The defense is requesting Ruth to authorize Dot Transportation to return the tractor trailer without attempting a download of the EDR data, or in the alternative, the defense requests the court enter an order authorizing and approving an individual to download the EDR data from the truck involved in the accident.
Al J. Pranaitis of Hoagland, Fitzgerald & Pranaitis in Alton and Donald R. Tracy of Brown, Hay & Stephens in Springfield represent the defense.
Thomas Q. Keefe, Jr., of Belleville, represents the plaintiff.
Madison County Circuit Court case number: 13-L-37.