The Madison County Record Apr. 28, 2015, 12:12pm


We weren't there and it’s only conjecture, but it's not hard to imagine asbestos attorneys having a conversation something like this:

“Poor Stephen Tillery! He doesn't know when to quit. Like he isn't rich enough already. He's still trying to recover that $10 billion settlement against Philip Morris that he won and lost, and won and lost . . .”

“It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. How long has he been chasing that elusive jackpot – 10 or 12 years, isn't it?”

“He started that case in 2000 in Madison County Circuit Court, and Judge Byron ruled in his favor in 2003.”

“Good old Nick Byron! You could always count on him.”

“Yeah, you sure could. But the Supreme Court reversed the decision two years later. That didn't stop Tillery, though. He tried to revive the case by claiming he had new evidence, but Judge Ruth, Byron's successor, didn't buy it. The Fifth District appellate court sure did, though, and reinstated Byron's judgment. Philip Morris appealed, of course, and now they're asking that a stricter standard of proof be applied: the 'but for' standard, instead of 'substantial factor.'”

“Poor Tillery! He'll never win if it's 'but for.' That for sure! He must be having fits. Say, wait a minute! If they can change the burden of proof for tobacco, they could do it for asbestos, too.”

“Hey, you're right! Could we ever meet that standard? Would we ever win another case? This is serious. We've got to do something to help out our old buddy Steve.”

“Yeah, yeah. He's a good guy. I always liked him.”

The asbestos law firm Cooney and Conway of Chicago recently filed an amicus brief with the Illinois Supreme Court pertaining to its review of Tillery's 12-year-old, overturned and reinstated, $10 billion judgment against Philip Morris. The intervening attorneys warned that changing the standard of proof would have “wide-ranging implications for tort cases throughout the state, including asbestos cases.”

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