Circuit Judge Ann Callis will hear a post-trial motion at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, January 14, 2011, regarding a multi-million dollar verdict reached last November by a jury who found in favor of plaintiffs after a tanker truck caused a Missouri tractor-trailer accident. The tanker was driven by Gary Collier, employed by Millstadt Rendering Company. Thomas and Betty Edwards claim Mr. Collier fell asleep while driving his tanker truck on I-55 in St. Genevieve County, MO. Allegedly, Collier then drove off the road, causing his tanker to become disengaged from his rig: the tanker crossed the median into the left lane on the other side of the highway crashing into the rig being driven by Mr. Edwards. This truck accident in Missouri occurred in 2008 and soon afterwards Mr. and Mrs. Edward sued, claiming negligence and loss of consortium for Betty Edwards.
In an attempt to recover damages to their tractor trailer, Slay Transportation Inc., Thomas Edward’s employer, filed a motion to intervene in the suit during the trial. Both Millstadt and Gary Collier countered, arguing that Thomas Edwards suffered from uncontrolled diabetes which directly contributed to an accident which could have been avoided. Millstadt and Collier also claim that Slay Transportation was aware of Mr. Edward’s medical condition and should not have allowed him to drive the tractor trailer. The jury deliberated long into the evening of November 17th before finding Millstadt and Gary Collins 93 percent liable for the accident, and awarding Thomas Edwards $2.5 million in damages, Betty Edwards $800,000, and Slay Transportation $110,863.08.
By all accounts, the trial in this truck accident case was extremely contentious, with the defendant’s attorney, Martin Morrissey accusing plaintiff’s attorney Eric Carlson of “mudslinging.” There were specific issues during the trial regarding Collier’s tractor-trailer rig and its tires: Millstadt sent the wrecked rig to the scrap yard, preserving only two tires for the trial and displaying those tires prominently throughout the trial. Because Judge Callis awarded the plaintiff’s a sanction regarding the missing rig and tires, the defense stresses the role of the tire rulings in what they are now claiming was an unfair verdict. Millstadt and Collier’s attorney assert in the post-trial motion there was absolutely no chance the jury would consider the Defendant’s arguments once they determined the Court essentially believed they had hidden or destroyed evidence.
The Defendant’s additionally believe the jury awarded a clearly excessive amount to Thomas Edwards based on sympathy rather than facts and that Mrs. Edward’s award of $800,000 was “grossly excessive,” since Betty Edwards testified during trial that the accident brought her closer to her husband. The post-trial motion in this serious truck accident asks Callis to order a new trial, enter a judgment notwithstanding the verdict or remit the damages awarded to the Edwards.
Our Missouri personal injury lawyers will be watching this case closely as we believe the only way to make our roadways as safe as possible is to hold negligent trucking companies and/or their reckless drivers responsible.