Mistrial Motion Filed In Multi-Million Dollar Case

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Lawyers on the losing end of a landmark $10 million Charlottesville civil case are firing back. The money is supposed to go to the family of a woman who died when a cement truck overturned on her car along Route 53 almost four years ago, but that money is on hold while the case is being appealed along two fronts.

The appeal was filed in court late Tuesday afternoon. Now, new details are emerging on what the defense says Jessica Lester's husband and his legal team were doing and why that should get them a new trial.

Allegations of evidence destruction and jury bias are now swirling around an accident that happened in June of 2007. Jessica Lester died eight days after an Allied cement truck overturned on her car. Lester's husband, Isaiah, survived. Following a civil case in Charlottesville Circuit Court, a jury awarded the family a record $10.5 million. But new court records show the attorneys for Allied Concrete are asking for the entire case to be dismissed.

The filing, which is hundreds of pages long, claims that Isaiah Lester, his attorney Matt Murray and a legal assistant Marlina Smith "...have engaged in a systematic effort to destroy evidence, mislead the court, and hide the truth about Mr. Lester."

Some of that evidence, say Allied lawyers, were Facebook photos that were deleted and had to be rediscovered. Images of Isaiah that they wanted to use to dispute his claim of having post-traumatic stress disorder.

The jury foreman is also coming under fire for having financial connections with the law firm Murray works for. Mandy Hoy was the executive director of Meals on Wheels; Allen & Allen is a financial supporter of the organization. But Hoy says she stopped working for the nonprofit months before the trial started.

"To think that somebody would grasp at a straw to make this go on is, it makes me feel terrible," she said. "But it makes me feel terrible for the family."

In addition to having the case dismissed, the Allied attorneys would like to be reimbursed more than $457,000 for fees and other costs.

No word on when the appeal will be heard and no comment from the lawyers involved on either side of the case.

Reported by Henry Graff
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