Madison - St. Clair Record

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Auctioneer, property owner deny liability in suit alleging injuries from upturned garden rake

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Aug 30, 2016

General court 10

An auctioneer and property owner both deny liability in a guest’s lawsuit alleging he was injured when he stepped on a rake.

Jerry Keel filed a complaint on June 10 against Geneve L. Wood, individually and as trustee of the Wood Trust and the Geneve Wood Trust, Wayne A. Mollet Auction Service and Wayne A. Mollet.

According to the complaint, Keel claims he was invited onto Wood’s property on Aug. 4, 2014, when he was allegedly injured. He claims that while he was walking into the barn, the defendants caused the power to go out and he stepped on the metal prongs of a garden rake.

As a result, he alleges he sustained injuries to his right foot and suffered an infection, which required multiple surgeries and amputation of his middle toe.

He claims the defendants negligently placed a garden rake on the ground with the prongs facing upwards, failed to provide adequate lighting and failed to warn invitees of the placement of the rake.

Mollett filed a motion to dismiss counts IV and V on Aug. 17 through attorneys Martin Morrissey and Dominique Seymoure of Reed Armstrong Mudge & Morrissey in Edwardsville.

Count IV is brought against Wayne A. Mollett Auction Service, which the defendant alleges is not a business but is a fictitious name under which he operates.

“Count IV must be dismissed because it is not directed against a natural person or a recognized legal entity,” the motion states.

Count V alleges negligence against Wayne Mollett, doing business as Mayne A. Mollett Auction Service.

The defendant argues that the claim fails to allege facts sufficient to state a cause of action against Mollett.

“Plaintiff’s complaint alleges he was injured when he stepped on a rake located on property owned by the co-defendants, Geneve L. Wood and Geneve Wood Trust.

“Only the party in control of the premises can be held liable for a defective or dangerous condition on the premises … A defendant does not owe a duty to a plaintiff if the defendant does not control or intend to control the land,” the motion states.

Wood and the Geneve Wood Trust answered the complaint on Aug. 11 through attorneys Christopher Bortz and Derek Siegel of Neville Richards & Wuller in Belleville.

Wood alleges the plaintiff caused his own injuries by failing to keep his body under careful and proper control, failing to keep a proper lookout for objects on the ground and failing to act in a reasonable and proper manner.

Wood also filed a counterclaim against Mollet alleging he had a duty to perform auction services in a reasonably safe and careful manner.

Wood also alleges Mollet voluntarily assumed a duty to demolish a barn on the premises in a reasonably safe and careful manner.

Wood claims Mollet negligently removed the garden rake from its usual upright storage position in a trashcan with other tools, placed the garden rake on the ground of the barn, failed to properly manage or supervise workers who were moving personal property from the barns and loading it onto wagons and cut a buried electric wire while operating a digging machine.

Keel seeks a judgment of more than $50,000, plus costs of the complaint.

He is represented by John C. Webster of Williamson, Webster, Falb & Glisson in Alton.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 16-L-802

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Organizations in this Story

Neville, Richards & WullerReed, Armstrong Mudge & MorrisseyWilliamson, Webster, Falb and Glisson