The Madison County Record Mar. 20, 2014, 6:57am

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert LeChien has taken sick leave, Chief Judge John Baricevic said on March 19.

Baricevic said LeChien took leave a couple weeks ago.

He said other judges can handle LeChien’s cases.

He said associate judges Richard Aguirre and Heinz Rudolf are available if parties in LeChien’s cases want action.

“It’s up to the parties,” he said. “If they agree to go before another judge, we proceed. If someone objects, we don’t.”

He said some have objected.

He wouldn’t comment on the nature of LeChien’s illness.

LeChien’s absence had become conspicuous that morning, when three teams of lawyers gathered in his court to argue motions in a potential class action.

The case involves plaintiff Darrell Cates, husband of Fifth District Appellate Court Justice Judy Cates and a lead engineer for St. Clair County. In September, he sued Allianz Global Risks US, Illinois Mine Subsidence Fund and others alleging he paid worthless premiums after receiving a mine subsidence policy limit payment of $350,000 from Allianz subsidiary Fireman’s Fund in December 2007 for the couple's Swansea home.

Their son David Cates and Ryan Mahoney, of Cates Mahoney in Swansea, are representing the proposed class.

For 20 minutes the lawyers bounced back and forth between the courtroom and rooms behind the bench, filling idle moments with stories of hockey and families.

Then they packed up and walked out.

A clerk said the motions wouldn’t be heard because the judge was out.

She said the hearing would be continued to May 14.

Associated Indemnity Corp., Fireman’s Fund and Allianz are represented by Jason Richardson of Edison, McDowell & Hetherington in Houston.

Illinois Mine Subsidence Insurance Fund is represented by Joseph Martineau of Lewis, Rice & Fingersh in St. Louis.

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