St. Clair County jurors award motorist $3,000; Plaintiff asked for $6 million

A St. Clair County jury awarded a motorist $3,000 after the plaintiff had requested $6 million in a trial involving a Fairview Heights collision.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Heinz Rudolf presided over the two day trial, which ended Jan. 22 when jurors entered a verdict in favor of plaintiff Elizabeth Waugh. She was awarded $3,000.

Waugh had been represented by attorney Shaun Lieser, who suggested the jury consider the plaintiff’s medical bills of $520,000, her past and future wages of $1.5 million, as well as her pain and suffering. He asked them to award Waugh a total of $6 million.

Defendant Noelle Hill had been represented at trial by John Cunningham.

Waugh filed her complaint Feb. 27, 2015 alleging she was a passenger in a vehicle driven by her husband, Christopher Waugh on Dec. 21, 2013. According to the complaint, they were stopped on Lincoln Highway in Fairview Heights when Hill allegedly caused a rear-end collision.

During trial the plaintiff allegedly estimated Hill’s speed at the time of impact to be 40 mph, while the defendant estimated her speed to be about 5 mph, according to Cunningham. He added that photos of the plaintiff’s vehicle “did not show significant damage.”

Christopher Waugh testified that his vehicle was not pushed forward during the impact. He also testified that neither he nor the plaintiff were suffering from any pain immediately following the collision and didn’t report any injuries to the police officers, but they decided to go to the hospital to get checked out.

However, Cunningham said the plaintiff testified that the car was pushed forward a few feet during the collision and that she and her husband reported to the police officer that they were in pain. Waugh claimed the police officer would not call an ambulance because they were not ejected from the vehicle and were not bleeding.

Cunningham said the plaintiff had some chiropractic treatment for her neck in the two months leading up to the collision. She testified during the trial that the crash caused different pain, including pain in her neck that went down her left arm.

Waugh also testified that she had not been able to work since January 2014. She had been earning $56,000 per year as an oncology nurse.

During the trial, Dr. Lee testified that he performed four surgeries on the plaintiff’s neck, which were necessary due to the collision.

After reviewing the medical records, the defendant’s medical expert testified that the plaintiff sustained only a strain and that the surgeries did not become necessary due to the collision.

Officer William Rowland of the Fairview Heights Police Department was also called as a witness. He testified that he investigated the collision and wrote a “0” for injuries sustained by the Waughs because they reported no injuries. He added that if he had been told about any injuries, he would have offered an ambulance and would never deny an ambulance as the plaintiff suggested.

This article was first published by Madison Record.

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