A rental car company's arbitration suit seeking reimbursement following an East St. Louis collision involving one of its rented vehicles is at trial in St. Clair County Associate Judge Thomas Cannady's courtroom.

Plaintiff Budget Rent-A-Car System Inc. is represented at trial by Laura K. Beasley of Joley, Oliver & Beasley P.C. in Belleville.

Defendant Shanika Cleveland is represented by David M. Duree of David M. Duree & Associates PC in O’Fallon.

Budget filed the complaint on July 10, 2015, through attorneys Ross Titzer and Kenneth Nussbaumer of Williams Venker & Sanders LLC in St. Louis.

The plaintiff argues that Cleveland rented a Hyundai Sonata owned by Budget from May 16, 2010, through May 23, 2010.

On May 22, 2010, Cleveland allegedly allowed Sammy Morning, an unauthorized person, to operate the vehicle in violation of the rental agreement.

Morning allegedly collided with two other vehicles being operated by Rosie Marshall and Ebony Jimerson at the intersection of 30th Street and State Street in East St. Louis.

As a result, the vehicles suffered “severe structural and body damage,” and Marshall, Jimerson, and passengers Carl Sheard and Dominic Scott sustained injuries.

Budget claims it was liable to the other drivers and passengers and incurred total damages as a result of Cleveland’s breach of contract in the amount of $36,462.48.

Cleveland answered the complaint on Aug. 21, 2015, denying liability.

She argues that the vehicle was taken from her home by Morning without permission and without authority.

She further argues that Budget was not obligated to pay the other drivers and passengers and therefore paid as a volunteer. Cleveland claims she is not required to reimburse Budget.

However, Budget counters that Cleveland failed to report the vehicle as stolen if it was taken without permission or authority.

On Jan. 13, 2016, the arbitrators entered an award for Budget for the full requested amount of $36,462.48, plus costs.

Cleveland rejected the award on Jan. 28, 2016.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 15-AR-634

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