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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

St. Clair County jury awards student $5,000 in tuition loss following Lebanon collision

State Court

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Aug 13, 2019

Bub and Spearman

A McKendree University student was awarded $5,000 by a St. Clair County jury in a suit alleging she was forced to withdraw from classes following a collision.

Plaintiff Jada Spearman was originally awarded $10,000 for tuition loss by jurors on Aug. 7. However, her award was reduced to $5,000 after 50 percent of the liability was attributed to Spearman.

The three day trial began on Aug. 5 in St. Clair County Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn’s courtroom.

The plaintiff was represented by Beverly Spearman of The Spearman Firm LLC in Chicago.

Defendant Grace McNeill was represented by David Bub, Brandon Copeland, and Robert Devereux of Brown & James PC in St. Louis.

Spearman, of St. Clair County, filed the complaint on March 22, 2018, against McNeill, of Jackson County.

In her complaint, Spearman claimed that on Sept. 4, 2017, she was walking as a pedestrian at or near the intersection of North Alton and Summerfield Streets in Lebanon at approximately 9:35 p.m. She alleged that as she was walking, McNeill was operating a vehicle near the intersection and struck the plaintiff.

Spearman claimed McNeill didn’t see her walking along the road until the headlights of her vehicle were shining on the plaintiff and she was right in front of the defendant’s vehicle.

Spearman alleged McNeill had a duty to exercise ordinary care in the operation, maintenance and control of her vehicle.

The plaintiff alleged the defendant breached her duty by failing to operate her vehicle in a proper manner and at a reasonable speed, failing to avoid striking a pedestrian, failing to keep a proper lookout, and failing to give a warning to ensure the safety of a pedestrian.

As a result, Spearman claimed she suffered permanent and disabling injuries to her back, neck and hip.

She also alleged that she has been prevented from attending to her usual duties and affairs of life and has incurred medical expenses.

On April 18, Spearman moved to file an amended complaint. She argued that she had undergone additional medical treatment for her injuries related to the collision. She also sought to add her mother, Sandra Spearman, as a plaintiff.

In her amended complaint, Spearman alleged that she was enrolled as a student at McKendree University and was an active member of the McKendree University marching band. She claimed that she was responsible for paying tuition to the university with the help of her mother.

As a result of the collision, Spearman claimed she was forced to withdraw from the fall 2017 semester at McKendree University and the marching band. Spearman and her mother claimed they lost tuition costs for the semester.

McNeill answered the amended complaint on May 17, with the same assertions as her previous answer.

However, she also accused the plaintiff of causing her own injuries by failing “to yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway as she was a pedestrian crossing a roadway and not within a marked crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection …”

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 18-L-211

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Brown & James St. Clair County Circuit Court

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