BENTON – The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois has ruled on a motion seeking sanctions against plaintiffs in a case connected to a 2005 traffic accident that resulted in one death.
The court denied a motion by E.T. Simonds Construction Co. and Southern Asphalt Co. Inc., which sought sanctions against the family of Aleksay Turubchuk, who was killed in the accident, on Oct. 11.
The order was issued by Magistrate Judge Donald G. Wilkerson.
In a case filed by the Turubchuk family, Ludmila Turubchuk, who was driving the vehicle involved in the accident, agreed to a judgment entry against her for more than $1.2 million in damages that were payable to Liliya, Elina and Vladislav Turubchuk, the order states. By agreeing to the terms, they would not enforce the judgment against her.
The order states Ludmila Turubchuk denied liability but also agreed that an Allstate insurance policy would pay any judgment against her. She also assigned her share of any funds to the other plaintiffs in the case, the order states.
E.T. Simonds Construction Co. and Southern Asphalt Co. Inc., defendants in a fraud complaint filed by the Turubchuks, maintain that while they knew about the Allstate payment, the agreement was never disclosed in the lawsuit even though discovery requests were made.
Moreover, the companies maintained that the lack of disclosure hindered the case.
“Plaintiffs’ settlement agreement is not the type of document that would be the subject of Rule 26(a) initial disclosures,” Wilkerson wrote in the order. “Therefore, defendant must point to a discovery request that would have required the production of the document.”
Wilkerson noted in the order that the settlement did not include an admission of fault and was not an insurance agreement.
“If defendant believed that the answers were too narrow, they should have filed a motion to compel at the time they were responded to and cannot now complain about the responses on the eve of trial,” Wilkerson added. “The court does not find that plaintiffs failure to produce the plaintiffs’ settlement agreement to be a willful failure.”
Wilkerson further noted that if E.T. Simonds and Southern Asphalt believed that the accident was caused by Ludmila Turubchuk, they should have conducted more due diligence into the payments made by Allstate.
Ultimately, Wilkerson noted that while the plaintiffs should have disclosed the agreement, it did not damage the defendants’ case.
“Defendant’s contention that the agreement is a smoking gun that eviscerates plaintiffs’ damages in this case is an over-reach,” the magistrate judge wrote in the order.
Wilkerson ruled in the order that the failure to disclose amounted to "no harm, no foul."