Lawsuit Settled Over Highway Worker’s Death

A lawsuit filed by the late Dennis Beard’s wife, Josie, on behalf of their three children, was called for trial in St. Clair County Circuit Court on Tuesday and ended the same day.

Bruce Cook of Belleville, attorney for the plaintiff’s, told WGEL that jury selection was started Tuesday, and then a settlement was reached.

The defendants, according to Attorney Cook, were John Thomas, Incorporated, Brightway Leasing, and Spaeth Welding. No settlement details were released.

Dennis Beard, age 38, from Pocahontas, was killed on May 22, 2012 in a traffic accident on Interstate 64 near O’Fallon. He was working on a highway striping project and was fatally injured when a vehicle, driven by Michael Jeter of West Frankfort, struck Beard and his co-workers, who were in the median repairing a sign so striping could proceed.

Jeter pled guilty to one count of driving while under the influence and was sentenced to nine years in prison.

In the lawsuit, Josie Beard alleged John Thomas Incorporated designed, manufactured and improperly assembled a piece of equipment, allowing the equipment’s anti-rotational design to fail, resulting in the piece rotating and striking her husband. John Thomas Incorporated denied the allegations.