Madison County jury awards motorist $50,000 over Illinois Route 3 rear-end collision

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | May 16, 2019

A Madison County jury awarded a motorist $50,000 in a lawsuit alleging she was injured in a rear-end collision on Illinois Route 3.

The two-day trial ended May 14 in Circuit Judge William Mudge’s courtroom after jurors returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff Susan Bartlett.

Bartlett was represented by Allan Napp of Schrempf Kelly & Napp Ltd. in Alton.

Defendant Eadmon Earon was represented by Michael Murphy of Freeark Harvey & Mendillo PC in Belleville.


Napp  

Susan Bartlett, individually and as mother and next friend of Nathan Bartlett, a minor, filed the original complaint on June 6, 2017, against Earon. Bartlett individually filed a first amended complaint on March 1 against Kristin Lucash, as special representative of Earon. According to a suggestion of death filed Jan. 29, Earon died on Aug. 25, 2017, at age 87.

According to the complaint, Bartlett claimed she was operating her vehicle northbound on Illinois Route 3 at the intersection of West Pontoon Road and was stopped at a traffic control device. She claimed Earon was also driving northbound on Illinois Route 3 when he failed to stop and rear-ended the plaintiff’s vehicle.

Nathan Bartlett was a passenger in the vehicle. According to a Jan. 29 motion to dismiss, his claims were settled and resolved.

Bartlett alleged Earon failed to keep his eyes on the road in front of him, drove his vehicle at a speed that was greater than reasonable, failed to stop at a traffic control device, failed to keep a proper lookout for others, and failed to exercise proper control of his vehicle.

As a result, the plaintiff claimed she suffered severe and permanent injuries, incurred medical expenses, and has been prevented from attending to her usual duties and affairs.

She sought more than $50,000, plus court costs.

Lucash answered the complaint on March 11, denying liability.

She argued in her affirmative defenses that the plaintiff’s own negligence was the sole proximate cause of any alleged injuries.

Murphy previously moved for summary judgment on Dec. 31, 2018 on behalf of Earon, arguing that the Dead Man’s Act was applicable.

“The purpose of the Dead Man’s Act is to preclude presentation to the trier of fact of a one-sided picture of the event by allowing the opposing party to present testimony concerning it,” the motion stated.

Murphy argued that the only witnesses able to testify were Susan and Nathan Bartlett, who are either interested and/or adverse parties.

“Based on the foregoing, the plaintiff will be unable to make a prima facie case of negligence and proving her burden in this matter. The plaintiff should be precluded from testifying to any of the events in her complaint. No other non-Dead Man’s Act barred witnesses exist. Summary judgment for the defendant is therefore proper and necessary,” the motion stated.

Bartlett filed a response on Jan. 29 arguing that Earon’s insurance company settled Nathan Bartlett’s claims with no mention of the Dead Man’s Act.

She also argued that no suggestion of death had been filed in the case.

She argued that the police report included Earon’s admission that he “struck the rear of her vehicle” and that “he misjudged the distance between the cars” when he rear-ended the plaintiff’s vehicle.

Bartlett further argued that Earon’s insurance company made no mention of his death when the defendant filed a motion to obtain a defense medical examination. The plaintiff then incurred the costs of deposing the defendant’s insurance company’s medical examiner, without mention of Earon’s death.

“That summary judgment in favor of plaintiff, Susan Bartlett, and against the defendant, Eadmon C. Earon, is appropriate in that the defendant admitted his negligence to the reporting officer at the scene of the event and witness, Steve Davis, unequivocally attests to the defendant’s negligence, and the lack of any negligence on the part of the plaintiff,” the response stated.

On Feb. 7, Mudge granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on liability and denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment “based upon affidavit of independent witness Steve Davis.”

Mudge also ordered the defendant to appoint a special representative for Earon.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 17-L-669

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Organizations in this Story

Freeark, Harvey and Mendillo PC Schrempf Blaine Kelly Napp

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