Madison County jury awards motorist $16K in Glen Carbon crash lawsuit

A Madison County jury awarded a motorist $16,357 in damages following a Glen Carbon car crash.

The two-day trial began on April 18 with Madison County Circuit Judge Chris Threlkeld presiding.

Plaintiff Jessica Zeigler was awarded $9,357 for medical treatment, $2,000 for loss of a normal life and $5,000 for pain and suffering.

Zeigler was represented by Ellen Burford of Burford Law Office in Granite City.

Defendant Nicole Zaruba is represented by Dominique Seymoure of Heyl Royster Voelker & Allen PC in Edwardsville.

The lawsuit was filed in July 2018, alleging Zaruba failed to maintain proper control of her vehicle.

According to the complaint, Zeigler was driving south on Illinois Route 159 in Glen Carbon on May 16, 2017. Zeigler was legally stopped to turn right on Glen Crossing Road when Zaruba allegedly struck the rear of her vehicle.

As a result, Zeigler claims she suffered severe and permanent injuries.

Zeigler claims Zaruba failed to yield to the right of way, failed to keep a proper lookout and negligently drove her vehicle at a speed greater than reasonable.

Burford previously filed a motion to bar expert witness Dr. Dan Beyer, an orthopedic surgeon.

“Dr. Beyer has no business rendering the opinions in this action,” Burford wrote in the Dec. 17 motion. “He has crossed the line in this action and in other actions too many times to count.”

Burford argued that after conducting a records review of Zeigler, Beyer’s testimony “is on the verge of name calling the plaintiff. He attributes all of her injuries to plaintiff’s weight, basing his opinion solely upon her BMI. He refuses to answer whether he knows the plaintiff’s muscle mass. He described plaintiff’s weight as ‘ballooning’.”

The motion stated that Beyer was previously barred in two collision lawsuits (Lush v Patterson and Garrison v Keck). In one case, former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert LeChien held that Beyer “wonders (sic) outside his opinions in the medical field and into the field of accident reconstruction.”

Burford argued that in response to LeChien’s order, Beyer characterized his opinions as “a deceleration event for the impacting vehicle” and “vehicular acceleration for Zeigler.”

“Changing the label of this area of testimony from ‘accident reconstruction’ to ‘deceleration event’ or ‘vehicular acceleration’ does not make Dr. Beyer’s opinions any more palatable or admissible,” she wrote.

LeChien also previously barred Beyer for lack of qualification on accident reconstruction testimony.

“Dr. Beyer is an experienced board certified orthopedic surgeon who does not do much surgery and does not practice in any subspecialty. He has no business giving opinions about automotive engineering, a recklessness he marketed to the auto insurance industry at $750 per customer and more if deposed,” LeChien wrote.

LeChien also concluded that Beyer was an “undisguised partisan and warrior for the cause of the auto insurance industry of the type recognized by the courts.”

Seymoure filed a motion in limine regarding Beyer on behalf of Zaruba. She asked the court to bar any reference to Beyer’s testimony being stricken or limited in prior cases “as this is collateral, irrelevant and immaterial to the issues in this case; it is a random and unspecific assertion which has no relevance and will tend to needlessly confuse the jury on a collateral matter.”

She asked the court for an order barring anyone from questioning or making reference to a charge against Beyer for driving under the influence more than 10 years ago or a charge for leaving the scene of a crash. The charges were dismissed, the motion stated.

Seymoure also asked the court to bar any reference to Beyer’s driving record or involvement in any collisions.

Burford filed a reply to the motion in limine on behalf of Zeigler, stating that the dropped charges are inadmissible.

However, she wrote that Beyer’s involvement in his prior crash and “failure to cooperate with the investigation” are “absolutely relevant to the facts of this case.”

“Dr. Beyer’s failure to stop and check on the condition of the party he ran off of the road further demonstrates and explains Dr. Beyer’s behavior as an ‘undisguised partisan and warrior for the cause of the auto insurance industry of the type recognized by the courts,’” Burford wrote.

She argued that Beyer testimony “is consistently that small ‘fender-benders’ cannot cause lasting injuries. As is demonstrated by his involvement and failure to cooperate with the hit and run incident, Dr. Beyer has a history of minimizing and refusing to recognize the severity of vehicular collisions in general.”

She added that if her motion to bar Beyer from testifying, Zeigler has the right to demonstrate that he has been barred as an expert witness in other cases.

This article was first published in Madison Record.

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