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Third trial rescinded for victim of car crash

Scott Lauck//May 31, 2023

Third trial rescinded for victim of car crash

Scott Lauck//May 31, 2023

After a tortuous path that involved two trips to the Court of Appeals, a woman injured in a car accident will retain the modest award she won at her second trial.

The Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District on May 30 reversed a St. Louis judge’s decision to order a third trial for Anastasia Collier on her claims against Andrea Steinbach following a 2012 collision.

The first time the case was tried in 2018, jurors awarded Collier $1.5 million but found her 20 percent at fault. After the Eastern District ordered a new trial, a second jury in 2022 awarded Collier just $100,000, which was reduced to $85,000 due to comparative fault.

During closing arguments, the defense had urged jurors to “Put yourself in her shoes” when deciding the case. The plaintiff objected to the statement as an improper “golden rule” argument. Judge Michael W. Noble halted the trial and asked Collier’s attorneys if they wanted him to declare a mistrial. But they instead asked the judge to admonish the jury to disregard the statement.

After the verdict, however Collier argued that “some bells cannot be un-rung” and asked for a new trial. Noble agreed. But the Eastern District held that the plaintiff “seems to ask the court to exercise its considerable discretion to effectively correct her strategic decision to proceed with the trial after she received what she believed was a less than favorable result.”

Judge Lisa P. Page, with Judges Thomas C. Clark II and Renee Hardin-Tammons concurring, noted that the case presented “an atypical circumstance” with few parallel precedents.

Christopher Finney of the Finney Law Firm, an attorney for Collier, said in an email that no decision had been made on a further appeal.

“We respect the Court’s ruling,” he wrote. “It is a very difficult decision to make in the heat of a trial after defense counsel violates motions in limine.  Our client waited over 10 years, including a prior trial and appeal, only to have that happen. Unfortunately, between a rock and hard place is no place to be.”

Steinbach was represented at the second trial by David Bub and Tyler Finnegan of Watters Wolf Bub Hansmann. Finnegan said they had been ready to retry the case but were pleased for their client that they didn’t have to.

“We’re hopeful that, after all of the rollercoaster, this will finally put it to bed,” he said.

The case is Collier v. Steinbach, ED110937.

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