After the storm

The Madison County Record Nov. 6, 2004, 11:14pm



Don’t cry for him…

Pundits are calling last week’s election of Lloyd Karmeier to the Illinois Supreme Court a huge blow for the Madison County trial lawyers.

But what about the man they backed-- Judge Gordon Maag?

Maag took it double on the chin last week, as Southern Illinois voters not only didn’t choose him for the state’s highest court. They also voted him out of his day job.

Rough year. But Maag won’t fret.

Word around the courthouse is that big Maag backer and plaintiff’s attorney Randy Bono sent the judge down to his Gulf Coast vacation home to relax for a spell in the wake of the depressing election results.

And when he returns, Record snoops say, Maag will join his son at the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River to start raking in the big bucks.

We’ll be watching to see how many doctors Maag defends against medical malpractice claims.

Post-Election pandering

He and his SimmonsCooper law firm spent more than $1.1 million to defeat the guy, but Jeffrey Cooper thinks Lloyd Karmeier will make a heck of a judge.

“Judge Karmeier was a fine judge in Washington County, and he will be a fine judge on the Supreme Court,” Cooper told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after the votes were counted.

Kind words can help bury the hatchet. But we’re betting Judge Karmeier will always remember those trial lawyer-funded television ads accusing him of letting up on child molesters.

GOP plots

Democrat Judge Andy Matoesian, Madison County’s longest serving, was easily retained last week with more than 70% of the vote.

The judge was reportedly pleased, as Madison County Republicans did not target him this election cycle.

We hear the GOP went soft on the judge as it is trying to gain an ally. Local Republicans hope Matoesian will eventually support appointing one of theirs to the Madison County bench.

The local judicial shuffle will play out between now and the end of the year.

One cannot say they didn’t try

Along with its last weekend endorsement of Judge Gordon Maag for Supreme Court, the Edwardsville Intelligencer ran a news story on the judge (“Maag believes experience makes a difference”—Oct. 28) that belongs in the advocacy journalism Hall-of-Fame.

“Contrary to critics, Maag said he has never filed a malpractice claim against a physician and, in fact, is in favor of tort reform,” wrote (and asserted) reporter Steve Rensberry.

Rensberry made Maag sound like Oliver Wendell Holmes, flowing his career credentials in between quotes by the judge touting himself. Why bother asking anyone else what they think of him?

Maag should consider hiring Rensberry as his publicist.

Tort Reform Tide

2004 proved a banner year for tort reformers across the U.S., as measures passed in several states.

Perhaps the most dramatic came in Florida, where voters chose to amend the state’s constitution to cap lawyer contingency fees in medical malpractice cases.

Lawyers who win or settle a med-mal case are now limited to 30% of the first $250,000 in damages received by their clients and 10% of any damages beyond that. The limits kick in after they are reimbursed for costs.

Meanwhile, business lobbyists in Washington, D.C. are expressing optimism that President George W. Bush’s re-election, combined with GOP gains in the U.S. Senate, bodes well for national measures like one that would limit class action lawsuits and another that would create a trust fund to compensate anyone injured by asbestos.

The $140 billion fund would, in theory, end all asbestos litigation.

Stay tuned.

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