Couple attacked at bar seek judgment notwithstanding or new trial

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Sep 18, 2013


A man and his wife who sought to recover $1.2 million in a St. Clair County personal injury case, but lost to a defense jury verdict in June, are seeking judgment notwithstanding the verdict or a completely new trial.

The plaintiffs filed their motion on July 18 through their attorney Mary M. Stewart of Brunton Law Offices in Collinsville in their case against Teezer's bar in Collinsville, its owner Tina Winfree and two bar patrons.

According to the 2009 complaint, Marvin Allen was visiting Teezer’s on June 26, 2008, when he was allegedly attacked by Daniel and Dennis Pereira, causing serious injuries.

The Pereiras allegedly became intoxicated at the bar and possibly prior to visiting Teezer’s, which caused them to attack, assault and battery Marvin Allen, the lawsuit alleged.

The complaint stated that Teezer’s, Winfree and Joey Grzywacz should have provided safety for Marvin Allen and should not have allowed the Pereiras on the premises and should have warned customers about their violent tendencies.

The case was tried before a jury of 12 from June 17 to June 19 in Circuit Judge Vincent Lopinot's court. Each plaintiff had a negligence count and a dram shop count against Winfree, doing business as Teezer’s. The jury deliberated 30 minutes before returning verdicts in favor of the defendants and against the plaintiffs.

According to the motion for judgment notwithstanding verdict, the plaintiffs argue that the evidence and testimonies supported a verdict in favor of the Allens. They say the jury verdict was not supported by the evidence presented and should be set aside.

Teezer’s responded to the Allens’ motion on Sept. 12 through their attorneys Michael C. Hobin of Reed, Armstrong, Mudge & Morrissey in Edwardsville stating that granting a new trial would be an abuse of discretion regarding the jury’s verdict.

Teezer’s further argues that a party forfeits review of an issue post trial unless the party objected to the purported error during the course of trial.

“The jury came to the conclusion they did based on the evidence they heard over the course of three days of testimony and their verdict should not be disturbed in any way, shape or form,” the response states.

The motion for a new trial includes a dram shop count, which seeks to hold Winfree and Teezer’s responsible for serving alcohol to the Pereiras and allowing them to become intoxicated.

The defendants' response mentions testimony from witness Jana Pisetta, who said the men were drinking but could not confirm that they were intoxicated. According to the police report included in the response, no charges for public intoxication were filed against the Pereiras.

“Here there was point blank evidence contradicting that of plaintiffs as to whether the [defendants] were intoxicated for the jury to consider,” the defense response states. “Due to the latter, the granting of a new trial would amount to an abuse of discretion as well. The jury’s verdict should stand as to the dram shop counts.”

The Allens also argue that the defendants should not have been permitted to call Cathy Barger as a witness, saying the court erred in allowing her to testify on behalf of Teezer’s, because she was not listed as a witness for the defense.

Teezer’s addresses the issue in its response stating that the plaintiffs cannot genuinely claim they were surprised by Barger’s testimony, arguing that Barger was “an appropriate and satisfactory trial witness just before the trial began. In fact, all witnesses set out on the Statement of Case were fair game and may well be called upon to testify come trial.”

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 09-L-175

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