With 10 major civil lawsuits in Madison County going to verdict in 2017, jurors awarded plaintiffs a total of $676,787.
Of those 10 cases, five were defense verdicts and five plaintiff verdicts.
The plaintiff verdicts were reached in cases involving claims of slip and fall, trip and fall, collisions and a dog bite. In one case – a slip and fall claim at the Highland Casey’s General Store – jurors awarded the plaintiff $550,000 for slipping on a puddle of liquid. The case is on appeal at the Fifth District Appellate Court.
The defense verdicts were reached in cases with claims of medical malpractice, collisions involving pedestrians and a trip and fall suit.
Benne v. Price
A Madison County jury reached a defense verdict on Jan. 4 in Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder’s courtroom (15-L-773).
Plaintiff Harold Benne filed his complaint on June 17, 2015, against Norman Price and Baxmeyer Construction. He alleged that on Nov. 3, 2009, he was walking on Remington Lane in Maryville when Price struck the plaintiff while driving a vehicle owned by Baxmeyer Construction.
Benne was represented by Gregory Tobin and Robert Schmieder of Pratt & Tobin PC in East Alton.
Price and Baxmeyer Construction were represented by David Simkins of Wuestling & James LC in St. Louis.
Lakin v. Casey’s Store
On Jan. 5, jurors awarded plaintiff James Lakin $550,000 in a slip and fall suit in Circuit Judge William Mudge’s courtroom (14-L-655).
Jurors awarded Lakin $300,000 for loss of a normal life and $250,000 for pain and suffering. They assessed full liability to defendant Casey’s Retail Company and no liability to defendant Paul Morence.
Lakin filed his complaint on May 1, 2014, alleging he was at the Highland Casey’s Store on Dec. 27, 2013, when he slipped and fell on spilled liquid that had accumulated on the floor. Morence was the assistant store manager on duty at the time of the incident and did “not quite have the time to clean up” the liquid.
Casey’s filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or for a new trial, or to amend the judgment on Feb. 3, arguing that the verdict was against the manifest weight of the evidence. "The evidence when viewed in its aspect most favorable to Plaintiff, so overwhelmingly favors Casey’s that no contrary verdict based on that evidence can stand,” according to Casey's.
Plaintiff attorney Eric Rhein also filed a motion to reconsider sanctions on March 3. He was sanctioned for missing a mandatory mediation session in September 2015 after the case was removed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. It was later remanded to Madison County.
“As is reflected in the federal file, the reason Rhein missed the session was due to a mistake, and he and the Plaintiff did not miss attending the session on purpose,” the motion stated.
Mudge denied the motions on March 22. Casey’s appealed on April 21.
Lakin was represented by Rhein and Roy Dripps of Armbruster Dripps Winterscheidt & Blotevogel LLC in Maryville.
Casey’s and Morence were represented by Douglas Teasdale of Teasdale & Associates LLC in St. Louis. Casey's is represented by John Cunningham and T. Michael Ward of Brown & James in its appeal.
Campbell v. Autenrieb
A Madison County jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff Steven Campbell on Jan. 11 in Mudge’s courtroom. Campbell was awarded a total of $16,000 (13-L-1904).
Campbell received $6,000 for loss of a normal life, $6,000 for pain and suffering and $4,000 for lost earnings.
Campbell filed his complaint against defendant Kevin Autenrieb on Nov. 13, 2013, alleging he injured his back when he attempted to prevent getting bit by a dog, named Callie, while delivering a package at the defendant’s home in July 2012.
Campbell filed a motion for a new trial on damages in February, arguing that the court erred by admitting speculative medical testimony regarding other potential causes of his injuries. Campbell claims the testimony was prejudicial.
Mudge denied the request on March 22. Campbell filed an appeal in April.
Campbell was represented at trial by Charles Armbruster and Roy Dripps of Armbruster Dripps Winterscheidt & Blotevogel in Maryville. The plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award Campbell $1.6 million for his alleged injuries.
Autenrieb was represented by Jason Kleindorfer and Michael Murphy of Freeark Harvey and Mendillo in Belleville.
Watson v. Skiff
A Madison County jury returned a defense verdict in favor of a truck driver on Feb. 7 in Crowder’s courtroom (14-L-1784).
Plaintiff Kimberly Watson filed her complaint on Dec. 30, 2014, against Ronald Skiff. She alleged that on Jan. 7, 2013, Skiff was operating a semi-truck in the course of his business, Ron’s Truck Service, when he allegedly drove his vehicle over her foot while she prepared to cross the road.
Watson was represented by Ronald Roth of Roth Law Offices in Granite City.
Skiff was represented by McDonald & Bogdan in St. Louis.
Fuentes v. Blasingame Group
On Feb. 17, Plaintiff Patricia Fuentes was awarded $60,000 in Crowder’s courtroom (13-L-1943).
Fuentes received $30,000 for pain and suffering, $25,000 for loss of a normal life and $5,000 for disfigurement resulting from the injury. However, the jury found that the plaintiff was also negligent, determining that her attributable negligence amounted to 45 percent. Her recoverable damages were $33,000.
Fuentes filed her complaint against Blasingame Group Inc., doing business as Star Realtors, on Nov. 21, 2013. She alleged that on Jan. 31, 2013, she entered a property for sale located at 714 E. Clay Street in Collinsville. The property went into foreclosure in September 2010 and had been vacant and unoccupied for at least two years prior to the alleged incident.
Fuentes claimed there was a concrete porch at the rear of the property with a cellar door flush with the concrete. The cellar door had several concrete steps that were allegedly “eroded and worn” and led to the cellar underneath the home. Fuentes stepped on the cellar door and allegedly fell through, fracturing her foot/heel, resulting in surgery with plates and screws.
However, after applying the setoff to the $33,000 verdict, the plaintiff’s verdict was reduced to nothing in March.
Fuentes was represented by Timothy Chartrand of Williamson Webster Falb & Glisson in Alton.
Blasingame Group was represented by Tori Walls of Reed Armstrong Mudge & Morrissey in Edwardsville.
Teague v. Harrison
On April 18, a Madison County jury awarded a passenger $17,500 in Circuit Judge David Dugan’s courtroom (15-L-1118).
Plaintiff Gloria Teague filed her complaint on Aug. 31, 2015, against Suzanne Crancer and Theresa Harrison. She argued that Harrison was driving a 2008 Buick Luceme CX southbound on Henry Street in Alton while Teague was riding along as a passenger. At the same time, Crancer was driving a 2014 Ford Escape on US-67 and approaching the intersection with Henry Street.
Crancer allegedly drove her vehicle into the intersection, running a red light, while Harrison was also crossing the intersection. The two vehicles collided.
Arbitrators previously assessed total fault to Crancer and awarded Teague $22,500. Crancer rejected the award and requested a jury trial.
Jurors reached a completely opposite verdict, assessing 100 percent liability to Harrison.
Teague was represented by Timothy Chartrand of Williamson Webster Falb & Glisson in Alton.
Harrison was represented by Roger Wilson of St. Louis
Crancer was represented by Marcus Raymond of Maryland Heights, Mo.
Chestnut v. Fast Eddie’s
On July 20, a jury returned a defense verdict in favor of Fast Eddie’s Bon Air in Mudge’s courtroom (14-L-403).
Plaintiffs Cleda and George Chestnut filed their complaint on March 13, 2014. Cleda Chestnut alleged she was a customer at Fast Eddie’s on Sept. 29, 2013, when she allegedly tripped and fell while walking on the enclosed street on the defendant’s Alton premises.
The plaintiffs filed a motion for a new trial on Aug. 18, arguing that a combination of errors requires a new trial.
“First, Defendant unitarily (sic) chose to skip several important portions of testimony present via evidence depositions, Defendant improperly suggested approval or involvement by non-parties, Defendant interjected building code compliance without proving the code contents, Defendant re-read an excerpt of a deposition to interject non-testimony, Defendant intentionally testified contrary to his deposition, Defendant misstated facts in his closing argument, and Plaintiff was prohibited from introducing post-incident remedial measures in order to impeach Defendant,” the motion stated.
Mudge denied the request on Oct. 2. The plaintiffs appealed.
The Chestnuts were represented by Brian Wendler of Wendler Law PC in Edwardsville.
Fast Eddie’s was represented by James Leritz of Leritz Plunkert and Bruning PC in St. Louis.
Williams v Smith
A Madison County jury awarded a motorist $33,287.10 on Aug. 14 in Mudge’s courtroom (15-L-918).
Plaintiff Jessica Williams was awarded $13,287.10 for medical expenses, $5,000 for past pain and suffering, $5,000 for future pain and suffering, $5,000 for past loss of a normal life and $5,000 for future loss of a normal life.
Williams filed her suit against Roger Wilson on July 21, 2015, alleging she was at a stop at the intersection of State Route 143 and Blackburn Road on Aug. 7, 2013, when Smith rear-ended her vehicle.
Williams was represented by Matthew Young of Kuehn Beasley & Young PC in Belleville.
Smith was represented by Roger Wilson of St. Louis
Ford v Midwest Radiological
On Sept. 26, a jury reached a defense verdict in favor of Midwest Radiological Associates and a physician in Circuit Judge Andreas Matoesian’s courtroom (15-L-582).
Plaintiff Rita Ford filed her complaint on May 8, 2015, against Midwest Radiological Associates and Dr. Theodore VanderVelde, alleging she woke up at home on Oct. 25, 2013, with “incapacitating low back pain and discomfort.” She claims VanderVelde failed to recognize any infections processes and did not recommend an immediate neurosurgical consult or follow-up.
Ford claims she later had to have emergency lumbar surgery to repair what was learned to be an epidural abscess by another doctor.
Midwest Radiological and VanderVelde were represented by Jeffrey Glass and Jason Winslow of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in Belleville.
Ford was represented by Robert Schmieder of SL Chapman LLC in St. Louis.
Waller v. Hulsen
A Madison County jury returned a defense verdict in a medical malpractice suit on Nov. 15 in Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth’s courtroom (14-L-566).
Plaintiff Clayton Waller, through his mother Sarah Waller, filed a complaint on April 14, 2014, against Dr. Thomas Hulsen and Dr. James Dalla Riva.
Sarah Waller alleged she was admitted to Anderson Hospital for medical induction of labor for suspected macrosomia on Aug. 12, 2011, and became fully dilated at 3:59 p.m. after receiving Pitocin. When Clayton Waller’s head was delivered at 4:11 p.m., Hulsen encountered a shoulder dystocia.
Clayton Waller was fully delivered two minutes later, weighing 10 pounds, 12 ounces. He was discharged from the hospital with a diagnosis of Duchenne Erb’s palsy. Following medical, surgical and therapeutic treatment at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, he was found to have permanent and debilitating injuries, including a complete avulsion at C5 and a partial avulsion at C6.
Waller was represented by Rachel Roman and David Zevan of The Zevan & Davidson Law Firm LLC in St. Louis.
Hulsen and Dalla Riva were represented by James Neville of Neville Richards & Wuller LLC in Belleville.