Associate Victorious in Defending Plaintiff’s Appeal

Janet Biggs & Michael Biggs vs. Elisabeth Wyatt and Sheryl Scheibal; Madison County Case No. 10-L-956

The case arises from a three-car motor vehicle collision. Janet Biggs claimed the defendants were negligent and caused her to sustain injuries and damages, including medical bills and lost wages. Her husband, Michael Biggs, filed a claim against both defendants for loss of consortium. A four-day jury trial took place in October 2013 before the Honorable Judge David Hylla. The case was tried by Reed, Armstrong Associate Tori Walls. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff Janet Biggs for $33,850.00, itemized as follows: $300 for pain and suffering, $300 for loss of normal life, $25,000 for medical bills and $8,250 for lost wages. The jury apportioned 60% of the fault to Reed, Armstrong client Elisabeth Wyatt and 40% of the fault to the co-defendant, Sheryl Scheibal. The jury returned a defense verdict on Michael Biggs’ consortium claims. After Plaintiffs’ post-trial motions for a new trial on damages were denied, Plaintiffs appealed the denial of their post-trial motions to the Illinois Fifth District Appellate Court.

On appeal, Plaintiffs raised several points of error, all of which were subject to an abuse of discretion standard. Plaintiffs argued the trial court abused its discretion by (1) excluding evidence that Ms. Biggs had been awarded disability benefits by the Social Security Administration; (2) admitting evidence of a prior medical condition; (3) refusing to allow plaintiffs’ counsel to cross-examine a defense expert witness regarding his bias; (4) dismissing a juror for cause due to the juror’s fatigue; (5) refusing to dismiss three other jurors for cause; (6) allowing defense counsel to make improper, prejudicial remarks during closing arguments; and (7) submitting a verdict form and jury instructions on Mr. Biggs’ loss of consortium claim that allowed jurors to render inconsistent verdicts. Reed, Armstrong Associate Tori Walls briefed the issues and presented oral argument before the three-judge panel on March 4, 2015.

On October 6, 2015, the Fifth District issued its Rule 23 Order affirming the trial court’s denial of Plaintiffs’ post-trial motions and finding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion on any issues raised by Plaintiffs on appeal. Specifically, the Fifth District found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding evidence of the disability award because it was hearsay and not subject to the business records or public records exception to the hearsay rule.