Metro-East News

Mother of boy struck by garbage truck in Fairview Heights sues company, driver

The mother of a 5-year-old boy, who was struck and seriously injured by a garbage truck in December in Fairview Heights, is suing the trash disposal company, as well as the woman who was watching the boy.

LaDonna Mohr is asking for at least $400,000 as part of a suit that claims negligence on the part of Aspen Waste Services and its driver, Patrick Sutton, when her son, Conner Barton, was struck while riding his bicycle.

The lawsuit, filed in St. Clair County, claims Aspen failed to properly train and monitor drivers.

Phone calls to Aspen Waste Services seeking comment were not immediately returned.

The company failed to train drivers in regard to blind spots, or equip its vehicle with adequate equipment to warn if children were nearby, the lawsuit added.

The lawsuit says Aspen could have used a spotter on the truck, and did not install wheel or side guards to prevent children from sliding underneath the vehicle.

The suit claims Sutton didn’t keep a proper lookout for children bicycling in the street, drove the truck from the passenger seat, was inattentive or distracted, and failed to monitor blind spots around the vehicle.

In the accident, Conner suffered multiple broken bones, internal organ damage and damage to his skin.

Shawn Lintz, one of the attorneys representing Mohr, said Conner suffered grave injuries.

“The future of the 5-year-old boy is uncertain right now,” Lintz said.

The future of the 5-year-old boy is uncertain right now.

Shawn Lintz, plaintiff attorney

He added Conner has to use a wheelchair and hasn’t returned to regular activities.

The lawsuit also names Candace Middendorf, a relative who was watching the 5-year-old at the time, as a defendant.

Middendorf declined to comment.

The suit claims Middendorf left Conner alone outside the house, failed to instruct him to stay out off the road, and failed to require Conner to come inside the house while she was inside.

“Due to his young age and immaturity, he was incapable of appreciating the risk of harm of bicycling in the street,” the lawsuit states. “For this reason there was a need for him to have close supervision. This was the responsibility of Middendorf.”

Lanny Darr, another attorney representing Mohr, said they decided to name Middendorf because they suspect Aspen would have sued her at some point anyway.

“One way or another, she was going to be dragged into the lawsuit,” Darr said.

Darr added the lawsuit is a way to make claims against available liability insurance policies held by defendants.

“It’s mechanics we have to process this claim through,” Darr said.

Lintz said he believes Aspen was the most negligent in the case.

The suit also says Conner is incurring medical expenses his mother will have to pay.

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451, @JoeBReporter