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Hennepin County Allows WCCO Camera In For Civil Trial

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- For the first time, a television camera was allowed inside a civil trial in Hennepin County.

Part of a pilot project ordered by the Minnesota Supreme Court, cameras are being allowed into civil cases if the judge approves.

Tuesday's case in Hennepin County concerned who was at fault in a serious head-on collision that happened in 2009. The jury will also decide what money damages will be awarded.

The accident happened on Highway 34 in Hubbard County. There are two defendants: one who fell asleep and lost control of his car, and one who hit the victims' car.

The man who feel asleep, Lars Olson, woke up when he heard gravel from the shoulder of the road hitting his vehicle.

"He held on tight to the wheel, he stayed straight. A minivan passed by safely, and David Johnson, Trailblazer, passed by as well," said Julia Lines, Lars Olson's attorney.

David Johnson, the other defendant, maintains there would have been no accident were it not for Lars Olson losing control.

"In the end, when you go back to deliberate, use your common sense, primarily, and look at it in a calm manner, not an emotional manner," said Michael Hutchens, Johnson's Attorney.

The victims' or plaintiffs' attorneys say the actual damages suffered by their clients total about $2 million. But they also asked the jury to award even more money for life damages, also known as pain and suffering.

"I do feel strongly that what they've lost is worth more than those medical expenses," said the plaintiff's attorney, Nathan Bjerke. "I'm going to suggest to you an appropriate number is someplace between $2 million and $3 million."

Right now, the jury has the case.

Tonight at 6 we'll take you inside a Ramsey County Courthouse and hear from a judge who tells us why she thinks cameras should be allowed in court.

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