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Court upholds $2.5M car crash verdict

The Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District has affirmed a $2.5 million jury verdict for an Arnold man injured in a Jefferson County vehicle crash.

On June 23, a three-judge panel of the court sided with Gary Veal, who in October 2016 was injured in a crash with Stacey Kelam.

According to the opinion, written by Judge Philip M. Hess, the crash occurred when Kelam, who was attempting to travel south on Jeffco Boulevard, made a left-hand turn onto the road and caused a crash with Veal, who was northbound.

Veal filed suit against Kelam in Jefferson County Circuit Court. In June 2019, a jury returned a $2.5 million verdict for Veal, and Judge Troy A. Cardona entered a judgment for him.

After the trial, Kelam filed a motion for a new trial and was denied, prompting her appeal.

Kelam argued that she should get a new trial because Cardona allegedly showed bias toward Veal and his counsel during jury selection. She alleged Cardona interacted more with Veal and his attorney in a personal and familiar manner, in “sharp contrast” to how he interacted with her and her counsel.

The panel ruled she failed to preserve the argument for review, and additionally, there was no basis for reviewing her claim for plain error.

Hess wrote that Cardona’s interactions with Kelam and her counsel “were just as friendly and personal as the trial court’s interactions with Respondent’s counsel.”

Kelam also argued the jury verdict was excessive. The court again disagreed.

Hess was joined by Judges Lisa P. Page and Kurt S. Odenwald.

The case is Veal v. Kelam, ED108179.

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