Madison - St. Clair Record

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Eleven Madison County jury trials went to verdict in 2015; $830,028 awarded to four plaintiffs

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Dec 16, 2015


Madison County saw 11 civil jury trials go all the way to verdict in 2015 with Madison County juries awarding a total of $830,028 this year in four of those cases.

Of those jury verdicts in favor of the plaintiffs, two of those cases were personal injury lawsuits arising out of car accidents. The other two cases alleged wrongful termination and fraud.

Of the 11 jury verdicts, seven cases ended in defense verdicts.

Seven cases were law cases and four were arbitration cases that could not reach agreements.

These totals do not include jury trials that ended in settlements.

On Jan. 6, a jury entered a verdict in favor of defendant Lueders Ross Agency in Circuit Judge William Mudge’s courtroom following a two-day trial (12-L-252).

Plaintiffs Eureka Hampton and Rufis Jefferson filed their two-count complaint on Feb. 24, 2012, through attorney Edward T. McCarthy of McCarty and Allen in Edwardsville. They alleged they purchased insurance coverage from Lueders but were denied their claim after an October 2009 fire destroyed their home and personal contents at 2416 Adams St. in Granite City.

The plaintiffs alleged that when they initially applied for the insurance policy, they answered several questions over the phone in order to secure a policy through Allied, the insurer represented by the agency.

However, the insurer denied their claim when Hampton and Jefferson applied for aid following the fire, saying they had not truthfully responded to all of the questions on their policy application, the complaint alleged.

The plaintiffs argued that Lueders failed to ask them all of the necessary questions to complete the application, specifically whether they had filed for bankruptcy or been convicted of any felony.

Lueders, on the other hand, argued that Hampton knew co-applicant Jefferson was a convicted felon and acknowledged that she, too, was a convicted felon.

Furthermore, the plaintiffs were tenants at the property and were subject to a lease with a purchase option at the time of the fire.

“The only equitable interest the plaintiffs would have in the home is the credits they earned pursuant to the terms of the lease. Having no other equitable interest in the home, plaintiffs may not make claim for any other dwelling coverages available under the policy at issue,” the defendant stated in its prior request for summary judgment from May 12, 2012.

Edward L. Adelman of Goffstein, Raskas, Pomerantz, Kraus & Sherman, LLC represented the defendant.

On Feb. 17, the jury entered a verdict in favor of defendant The Glik Company in Circuit Judge John Barberis’ courtroom following a one-day trial (14-AR-305).

Plaintiff Denise Getz filed her complaint on July 3, 2014, through attorney John Leskera of Collinsville. She alleged she was walking in the parking lot of the shopping center owned by the defendant located at 2649 Northtown Way in Highland on May 4, 2013.

While walking, Getz claimed she tripped on an uneven surface and injured herself.

The defendant, represented by Mark Osland of the Law Office of Stephen Larson in St. Louis, argued that the plaintiff contributed to her own alleged injuries by failing to keep a reasonable and proper lookout for conditions which might pose a hazard to her and failing to observe and appreciate conditions on the premises which might or could have posed a hazard to her.

On Feb. 18, the jury entered a verdict in favor of plaintiff Jack Lingenfelder in Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder’s courtroom following the two-day trial (14-AR-9).

The jury awarded the plaintiff $4,958.11 for “reasonable cost of repairs and the difference in fair market value of the property immediately before the occurrence and its fair market value after the property is repaired.”

Lingenfelder filed his complaint on Jan. 3, 2014, through attorney Eddie Unsell of Unsell & Schuman in East Alton. He alleged he hired defendant CAMS Automotive in May 2013 to complete certain mechanical work on his 1970 Chevrolet Corvette. The plaintiff claimed he paid the defendant $10,380 for the work.

Lingenfelder alleged CAMS was negligent and placed the wrong parts on the motor of the vehicle, causing mechanical failure of the engine, damage to the transmission and damage to the interior.

Represented by Eric Zueck of Peoria, the defendant alleged the plaintiff drove the vehicle in a rough and excessive manner which caused the damages, operated the vehicle at excessive speeds and abused the engine and transmission of the vehicle by operating it above the recommended tolerances.

On Feb. 20, a jury entered a verdict in favor of defendants Alton Multispecialists and Dr. Maudie Miller in Mudge’s courtroom after the four-day trial (11-L-509).

Plaintiff Kevin Doe filed his two-count complaint on May 27, 2011, through attorneys John Papa and David Horan of Callis, Papa, Szewczyk & Danzinger.

The plaintiff claimed that on May 21, 2009, Doe consulted Miller, a physician and general surgeon with Alton Multispecialists, to treat a recurrent left inguinal hernia. One week later, Doe says he was admitted to an ambulatory surgery department at Alton Memorial Hospital where Miller attempted to surgically repair his alleged hernia with mesh.

Miller continued to provide post-surgery care to Doe until June 18, 2009. He was permitted to return to work on June 22, 2009, with no restrictions.

However, Doe claimed he suffered a recurrence of his left inguinal hernia in February 2010 as a direct result of Miller’s “substandard” care.

Jim Neville and Matt Zittell of Neville, Richards & Wuller LLC in Belleville represented the defendants in the case.

Doe filed a post-trial motion for a new trial on March 23. He argued that the trial court refused to dismiss members of the jury pool that were patients of the defendant.

He also argued that the defense counsel made improper arguments during the closing statement when he attacked the credibility of Dr. Christopher Purett, one of the plaintiff’s treating physicians, by stating that the doctor offered favorable testimony for Doe in exchange for Doe not suing his father, Dr. Don Pruett.

Mudge denied the plaintiff’s post-trial motion on May 27.

On March 2, a jury entered a verdict in favor of plaintiff Lance Wesen in Barberis’ courtroom following a one-day trial (14-AR-90).

The jury awarded the plaintiff $10,715 in damages.

Wesen filed his complaint on March 6, 2014, through attorney Patricia Zimmer of Ripplinger & Zimmer in Belleville. He alleged he was driving a Volkswagon Jetta southbound on Troy Road in Edwardsville stopped at the intersection with Third Avenue. At the same time, defendant Benjamin Hunter was driving a 2005 Nissan Altima southbound on Troy Road when he allegedly collided with the rear of Wesen’s vehicle.

The defendant was represented by Martin Clay of the Law Offices of Bingley Hart & Hesi in St. Louis.

On March 18, Wesen filed a satisfaction of judgment, releasing the judgment entered against Hunter.

Barberis ordered that the matter is vacated, held for naught and dismissed on April 9.

On April 8, a jury entered a verdict in favor of defendant Garrett Hausman in Barberis’ courtroom following a three-day trial (13-AR-73).

Plaintiff Jannette Schilling filed her complaint on Feb. 11, 2013, through attorney Allan Napp of Schrempf, Kelly, Napp & Darr in Alton. She alleged that on May 13, 2011, she was driving her vehicle southbound on North Bellwood Road at its intersection with Route 140 in Bethalto. At the same time, Hausman was driving his vehicle southbound on North Bellwood Road and allegedly struck the plaintiff’s vehicle from behind.

Represented by John P. Cunningham of Brown & James in Belleville, Hausman argued that Schilling failed to keep her vehicle under reasonable and proper control, operated her vehicle in an improper and careless manner and suddenly without proper cause stopped her vehicle in the middle of an intersection.

On April 24, a jury entered a verdict in favor of defendants Dr. Tibor Kopias and Dr. Michael Mandis in Mudge’s courtroom following a five-day trial (06-L-661).

Plaintiff Fred Simon’s daughter Stacey Luber sued Kopjas, Mandis, Anderson Hospital and others in 2006 claiming the defendants failed to timely and properly diagnose and treat Simon for bacterial sepsis. Simon later died on Aug. 17, 2005. According to the court record, cause of death was pneumonia.  

Luber was represented in the case by Colleen Jones of St. Louis. She asked the jury to award the plaintiff $2 million.

Represented by Ted Dennis of Belleville, Mandis argued that 10 years is the average life expectancy for any 76-year-old man without taking into consideration his medical condition and situation.

Represented by James Neville of Belleville, Kopjas argued that even the plaintiff’s experts testified that doctors don’t always order blood cultures, especially when a patient already has a large number of open wounds and needle punctures. He also argued that because the patient needed a special hospital room due to his condition and diagnosis, it took time to arrange a proper treatment facility.

On Oct. 14, a jury entered a verdict in favor of defendant Daddie-O’s Nite Out in Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth’s courtroom following the two-day trial (14-L-667).

Plaintiff William D. Odom filed the seven-count lawsuit on May 5, 2014, against John P. Heitman, Daddie-O’s Nite Out Inc., Richard L. Campbell, individually and as liquor licensee, Brian Campbell, individually and as liquor licensee, and Richard L. Campbell Trust, as property owner.

Represented by Patrick G. King of the King Law Firm in Alton, Odom argued that the defendants sold alcohol to Heitman on May 12, 2013, causing him to become intoxicated. Odom claimed he was on the Daddie-O’s pool team and was on the Wood River premises at the same time as Heitman.

While intoxicated, Odom claimed Heitman began making sexual remarks and yelled obscenities, profanities and fighting words at the bartender and other patrons. As a result, the bartender allegedly demanded for Heitman to leave the establishment, but he refused.

Odom, along with other patrons, “assisted and attempted with the peaceful removal of John P. Heitman from the inside of Daddie-O’s at the direction and request of the bartender,” the suit states.

Odom claimed Heitman responded by physically striking him, causing him to fall and land against a pool table and the floor.

Represented by Stephen J. Moore of Galloway, Johnson, Tompkins, Burr & Smith in St. Louis, Daddie-O’s and the Campbell defendants argued that the plaintiff provoked the alleged incident by becoming intoxicated and acting in a reckless, offensive and careless manner; provoking and willingly, purposefully and intentionally engaging in and allowing the alleged incident when it could have been avoided; actively provoked the conduct of Heitman through verbal threats; engaged in a personal dispute; and voluntarily, freely and willfully participated in the attempted removal of Heitman.

The defendants argued that Odom’s alleged injuries were the result of his own fault for failing to take care for his own safety and failing to act reasonably under the circumstances.

On Nov. 13, a jury entered a verdict in favor of plaintiff Paul Crane Jr. in Ruth’s courtroom following a five-day trial (14-L-501).

The jury awarded the plaintiff $785,000 - $160,000 in compensatory damages and $625,000 in punitive damages.

Crane was represented in the case by Lee W. Barron of Alton.

Crane filed his complaint against Midwest, Bob Evans Sr., Bob Evans Jr. and Nancy Donovan on March 31, 2014, arguing that during his employment with the Wood River company, he observed Midwest engaging in “unauthorized and illegal dumping and/or storage of toxic waste and other substances hazardous to the health and well-being of the public.” Midwest Sanitary Service was the only remaining defendant at trial.

Crane alleged he took photos of the violations and reported them to state regulators.

Then on Nov. 18, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency sent Midwest a letter noting the “numerous environmental violations” engaged in by the defendant.

Crane was terminated that same day. He alleged his employer knew or suspected he was the individual who reported the violations, resulting in his termination.

He claimed his employer placed a note in his final paycheck that read “Think before you speak. Words can get you into trouble much easier then (sic) they can get you out of it.”

Midwest’s answers to Crane’s interrogatories were submitted as exhibits in the trial on Nov. 9. In its answers, the defendant argued that the plaintiff was terminated because “his attitude became increasingly inappropriate. He was frustrated and angry and voiced his frustrations and anger to customers and employees of Midwest Sanitary Service, Inc.”

Midwest also argued that Crane asked Bob Evans Sr. to consider laying him off and allow the plaintiff to collect unemployment because he had another job that he would be paid cash for.

The defendant alleged it had decided to terminate Crane on Nov. 15, 2013, but the plaintiff failed to show up for work that day. As a result, it terminated him the following Monday.

Represented by John Gilbert of Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard in Edwardsville, Midwest denied knowing who made the complaint with the EPA.

On Dec. 2, a jury entered a verdict in favor of plaintiff LaCheryl Lewis in Ruth’s courtroom following a three-day trial (14-L-981).

The jury awarded the plaintiff $29,355 - $19,355 for medical care, treatment and services previously received, $5,000 for pain and suffering and $5,000 for loss of a normal life.

Represented by Steven Dioneda of Kullmann, Klein & Dioneda in St. Louis, Lewis filed her complaint on July 14, 2014. She alleged defendant Courtney Heuerman was driving her vehicle northbound on N. University Road near the intersection of P2 Road at a turnaround point in July 2014. Lewis alleged she was driving northbound at the same place when she stopped with her turn signal on, waiting to turn onto S. University Road. While stopped, the plaintiff alleged the defendant collided with the rear of her vehicle.

Heuerman answered the complaint on Aug. 6, 2014, through attorney Michael Murphy of Freeark, Harvey & Mendillo in Belleville. She argued that the plaintiff’s own negligence was the sole proximate cause of any alleged injuries.

Also on Dec. 2, a jury entered a verdict in favor of defendant Tracy Lewis in Barberis’ courtroom following a three-day trial (14-AR-371).

Represented by Peter Maag of the Maag Law Firm in Wood River, plaintiff Heather Ragan filed her lawsuit on Aug. 18, 2014. She alleged that she was driving a vehicle northbound on State Route 159 in Glen Carbon near a Bank of Edwardsville parking lot on May 21, 2014. At the same time, Lewis was allegedly waved by a third party to pull out of the bank parking lot. She proceeded into oncoming traffic and allegedly struck the front right corner of Ragan’s vehicle.

Lewis answered the complaint on Sept. 19, 2014, through Knapp, Ohl & Green in Edwardsville. She alleged that Ragan’s alleged damages were caused by her own negligence.

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Organizations in this Story

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)Anderson HospitalBank of EdwardsvilleCallis Papa & Szewczyk