Judge Pirrello overturns jury verdict

Defendant Dean Ekberg alleges judge was employed by company associated with plaintiff, Rockford Blacktop

Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Judge Ronald L. Pirrello overturned a jury verdict Jan. 25, and granted Rockford Blacktop Construction Co. a new trial in an alleged defamation lawsuit involving Dean Ekberg, president of Ekberg Material Inc.

Ekberg said he planned to appeal Pirrello’s decision. Pirrello did not return messages for comment.

The lawsuit concerns comments Ekberg allegedly made on WNTA radio in 2000 that Blacktop officials allegedly defamed their company.

The lawsuit was detailed in the Nov. 10, 2004, article “Rockford Blacktop loses libel case.”

Ekberg alleged that in open court Pirrello commented to a juror that he was once employed by a company associated with Rockford Blacktop—Rock River Disposal Inc.

Both companies are subsidiaries of parent company William Charles Inc.

Ekberg’s attorney, Sasha Jonic, disagreed with Pirrello’s decision to overturn the jury verdict. He said he believed the jury was properly instructed and that if there was fault with the jury instructions, the fault “lied with either the plaintiff or the court, and the defendant should not be punished for that.”

Luchetti’s assistant said Luchetti was on vacation and not available for comment.

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