CHICAGO – An expert witness' failure to produce financial documents is leaving an Edwardsville transportation company on the hook for a $1.5 million jury award to a woman who chipped her tooth on a soda can during a rear-end collision in 2013.
A three-justice panel of the Illinois First District Appellate Court in Chicago determined earlier this month a Cook County judge had the authority to impose sanctions after Cassens Transport Co.'s expert witness, neurosurgeon George Dohrmann, failed to produce his IRS 1099 forms.
"The trial court did not abuse its discretion by barring Dohrmann from testifying for his refusal to comply with discovery orders, nor did it abuse its discretion by not allowing defendants to introduce cumulative evidence during their case in chief," the appellate justices said in a 17-page decision issued Oct. 9.
Justices affirmed the jury award in the case against Cassens and one of its drivers, Clarence C. Dale.
Justice Mary Anne Mason wrote the appellate decision, in which Justice Terrence J. Lavin and Justice Aurelia Pucinski concurred.
The case originally was filed by Chadana Myatt after the vehicle she was driving was rear-ended by a Cassens' vehicle, driven by Dale, in October 2013 in stop-and-go traffic on Interstate 88. The impact was enough to push Myatt's vehicle a couple of feet forward and to cause Myatt to chip her tooth on a can of soda, according to case documents.
Myatt filed her complaint in September 2014, seeking damages for her chipped tooth and chronic head, neck and shoulder pain.
Dohrmann had been expected to testify that Myatt has a progressive degenerative spine disease and that it was his opinion that condition was not caused by the collision, the justices noted.
Dohrmann claimed he did not have an accountant at the time and that he never keeps his 1099 forms.
Cassens asked the trial court for additional time to locate another expert witness, but that request was denied.
The trial court jury found Myatt 27 percent responsible for her own injuries when it returned its verdict, and awarded her net damages of more than $1.5 million.
Cassens appealed the verdict, saying among other things that the Cook County judge was wrong to bar Dohrmann as an expert witness, and for not allowing a deposition of Myatt about which traffic lane she was driving in at the time of the collision.
According to Cook County court records, Myatt is represented by attorneys with the O'Connor Law Firm Ltd., of Chicago, and Cassens is represented by the firm of Clausen Miller, of Chicago.