Metro-East News

Family of woman killed in crash settles lawsuit for $2 million

Althoff Catholic High School students dressed as Frozen characters and visited Melody Wells while she was recovering in the hospital. Melody is the daughter of Robin Wells, who was killed in a car crash in Mascoutah in November 2014. Melody was a passenger in the car and was seriously injured.
Althoff Catholic High School students dressed as Frozen characters and visited Melody Wells while she was recovering in the hospital. Melody is the daughter of Robin Wells, who was killed in a car crash in Mascoutah in November 2014. Melody was a passenger in the car and was seriously injured.

The family of a 49-year-old Mascoutah woman killed in a car crash has settled a wrongful-death lawsuit for $2 million, according to St. Clair County court records.

The settlement was awarded to Paul Wells, the husband of Robin Wells, and their daughter Melody Wells.

Paul Wells filed the suit against the driver of the truck that crashed into Robin Wells’ vehicle — Don L. Mueller — and his company, Don Mueller Construction.

The lawsuit filed in June 2015 has been dismissed as part of the settlement agreement.

Tori Walls, an attorney with the Edwardsville-based law firm Reed, Armstrong, Mudge and Morrissey which represented Mueller and his company, declined to comment on the settlement.

Paul Wells’ attorney, David Cates with Cates Mahoney LLC in Swansea, also declined to comment on the settlement.

Mueller’s liability insurer offered to pay $1.25 million to Robin Wells’ surviving family members in settlement of the wrongful-death claim and $400,000 to the estate of Robin Wells in settlement of the survival-action claim in “exchange for a release of all claims against Don L. Mueller, Don Mueller Construction Company and Pekin Insurance Company as a result of the accident at issue in this case,” court records state.

Mueller’s liability insurer also offered to pay $350,000 to settle the bodily-injury claim of Melody M. L. Wells. The total settlement is $2 million.

Robin Wells has four surviving children: Melody, Christian Wells of Breaux Bridge, La., Justin Wells of Spiro, Okla., and Paul S. Wells, of Houston.

However, Christian Wells, Justin Wells and Paul S. Wells will not be receiving any of the settlement. According to court records, they waived their rights to the proceeds of the settlement.

Melody Wells, who was 9 years old at the time of the crash, has Down Syndrome, and Robin Wells was her primary caregiver.

After attorney fees of $642,833 and medical liens of $37,622, the remaining sum is just over $1.3 million. Court records indicate Robin Wells’ husband Paul Wells would get about $691,200, and Melody Wells would get about $628,356.

Robin Wells and her daughter Melody were northbound on Illinois 4 in Mascoutah in a 2013 Kia Optima on Nov. 5, 2014, and Mueller was driving a 2002 Ford F-150 truck south on Illinois 4. Mueller crossed the center line and struck Robin Wells’ vehicle, according to the accident crash report.

According to a report prepared by Mascoutah Officer Kyle Donovan, Mueller admitted he might have fallen asleep. When Donovan asked what happened, Mueller said, according to the report, “It was my fault; I must have dozed off. How are they doing?” The officer informed Mueller he wasn’t sure how the occupants of the other car were doing.

“I hope they are OK; I feel terrible,” Mueller stated, according to the report.

No charges or citations have been issued against Mueller.

Melody Wells suffered injuries to her head, neck, chest, abdomen and legs, according to the lawsuit, and “continues to suffer tremendous pain, suffering and disfigurement.”

Mueller, who was flown to Saint Louis University Hospital in St. Louis, suffered seven broken ribs and a fractured hip in the crash, according to the accident report.

Jamie Forsythe: 618-239-2562, @BND_JForsythe

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