Madison - St. Clair Record

Friday, September 20, 2019

Indiana trucking company argues Madison County has 'absolutely no interest' in Effingham injury claim

By Ann Maher | Jan 23, 2017


Ten civil cases arising from Madison and St. Clair counties will be argued at the Fifth District Appellate Court this week.

On Thursday, an Indiana trucking company seeking to transfer a 2015 personal injury case out of Madison County is likely to argue that Effingham County is a more convenient court for the litigation.

Circuit Judge Andreas Matoesian in June denied a motion to transfer or dismiss on forum non conveniens brought by defendant Central Trucking Inc.

Missourians Michelle Orf and Laura King sued the company and driver David Rogers over a 2013 rear-end auto accident that occurred in Effingham.

The plaintiffs, represented by attorney Lanny Darr of Schrempf, Kelly, Napp & Darr in Alton, accuse Rogers of inattentiveness, excess speed, following too closely and failing to take actions to avoid collision. They claim serious injuries and medical expenses.

Central Trucking, represented by Barry Noeltner of Heyl Royster in Edwardsville, argues that the suit has no connection to Madison County.

Citing public interest factors in its motion to transfer or dismiss, Noeltner wrote that at the end of 2013, Madison County had 4,855 major civil cases pending where Effingham County had only 92 major civil cases - ones in which plaintiffs are seeking in excess of $50,000 in damages.

"In addition, in 2013, 52 such cases were filed in Effingham County, while 2,206 such cases were filed in Madison County," he wrote.

"With respect to the time to reach trial, in 2013 there were two Effingham County civil trials in law cases ...while there were ten such trials in Madison County. For those two trials in Effingham County, the average time that the cases were pending was 31.5 months, as opposed to the ten trials in Madison County where the average time to trial was 39.2 months.

"That means it took eight months longer to get to trial in Madison County as opposed to Effingham County.

"Not only is Effingham County more convenient, but Madison County has absolutely no interest in the outcome of this case. The plaintiffs do not reside in Madison County nor do either of the defendants."

Another Madison County suit that will be argued at the appellate court is Crane v. Midwest Sanitary Service Inc., a case in which Madison County jurors awarded former truck driver Paul Crane, Jr. $785,000 in November 2015 over his retaliatory discharge claims.

Crane had alleged he lost his job with the Wood River company after reporting the alleged illegal dumping of toxic waste to the Environmntal Protection Agency.

The jury in Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth's court awarded Crane $160,000 in compensatory damages and $625,000 in punitive damages.

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

Midwest Sanitary was represented at trial by John Gilbert of Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard in Edwardsville.

The company had claimed that Crane 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.”

The Crane case will be argued on Tuesday.

Another Madison County case to be argued this week is an appeal brought by a plaintiff claiming Edwardsville attorney David Fahrenkamp, acting as a guardian ad litem, failed to protect money she was awarded in a vehicular collision claim while a minor.

Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder granted summary judgment to Fahrenkamp in July.

Alexis Nichols, formerly known as Alexis Brueggeman, claims Fahrenkamp, during his appointed time as guardian ad litem, allowed Nichols' mother to withdraw money from the account that held the funds Nichols was awarded.

Crowder held that, "Where the court-appointed individual acts within the scope of his or her appointment to give advice to the court regarding the best interest of the minor for use in the court's decision-making process, that individual must be subject to the same immunity as the court."

Nichols is represented by Charles W. Armbruster III and Michael T. Blotevogel of Armbruster, Dripps, Winterscheidt & Blotevogel in Alton.

Fahrenkamp has acted pro se. 

Other cases to be argued at the Fifth District:

Beard v. Jeter - St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 14-L-661

Plaintiff Josie Lee Beard, special administrator of the estate of Dennis James Beard, a construction worker killed near mile marker 13 on I-64 in May 2012, filed suit two years later against Michael Jeter and John Thomas, Inc.

The suit claims Beard "was struck by a Vorteq trailer mounted crash attenuator” after it was hit by a vehicle. The trailer was sold by John Thomas, Inc.

Beard accuses John Thomas, Inc. of wrongful death for allegedly designing, manufacturing and improperly assembling a defective piece of equipment. She says the attenuator’s anti-rotational design “failed to engage, allowing the device to rotate and strike Dennis James Beard, who was standing adjacent” to it.

Beard is represented by Bruce R. Cook and Bruce N. Cook of Belleville.

Douglas R. Heise of Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen in Edwardsville represents John Thomas, Inc.

Jan. 24

9 a.m. - Wehmeyer v. Caterpillar, Inc., St. Clair County

10 a.m. - Cavalry SPV I, LLC v. Call, St. Clair County

11 a.m. - Zweig, Terry L., et al., v. Schon, Randy, et al., Madison County

Jan. 25

10 a.m. - Jones, Anne v. Jones, David A., Madison County

11 a.m. - In re Marriage of Haertling, St. Clair County

Jan. 26

9 a.m. - In re Marriage of Rouse, St. Clair County

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Organizations in this Story

Caterpillar Inc. Heyl Royster Lee W. Barron Madison County Circuit Court

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