Stack doesn't dismiss, case moves to federal court

Steve Gonzalez Nov. 8, 2004, 12:33pm

Jeffery Hebrank from Burroughs, Hepler, Broom, MacDonald, Hebrank, and True filed to have this case moved to federal court.

Legal maneuvering by defense attorneys in an asbestos case resulted in another jury trial avoided in Madison County.

Following Circuit Court Judge Daniel Stack's refusal to dismiss an asbestos case for forum non conveniens, attorney Jeffery Hebrank--on behalf of Bondex and Georgia Pacific--filed to have the case removed to federal court.

Though Stack had recently established he was amenable to dismissing cases that don't belong in Madison County, the asbestos judge sided with attorneys representing Luke Lindau of Arlington Heights.

“This case is different than the other three I ruled on recently,” Stack said after hearing arguments.

The case involves Lindau, a union painter, who suffers from mesothelioma that was diagnosed in October 2002. Represented by Mike Bilbrey and David Hylla, Lindau was in town Monday--lodging at Bilbrey's residence--hoping his asbestos case would finally come to trial.

Hebrank, a partner of the Burroughs Firm, argued that the case should be moved to Cook County, Lindau's home county.

“This is a fairly obvious case of forum shopping,” Hebrank argued.

Hebrank stated that the case was originally filed in Austin, Texas, with a trial date in February. But the plaintiff wanted to move his case to Madison County even though he was never exposed in Madison County, Hebrank said.

Bilbrey argued that Madison County is as good as a forum as any.

“No forum is convenient, as expert witnesses for both sides are not located in Madison or Cook Counties,” Bilbrey said.

Bilbrey also stated that it is more convenient for Lindau to travel from Bilbrey Farms, a bed and breakfast Bilbrey operates in rural Edwardsville where Lindau was lodging, than it is for his client to travel from his home in Arlington Heights to a courtroom in Chicago.

After Stack's ruling, Hebrank asked filed to have the case moved to federal court.

According to his complaint, Lindau alleges that during the course of his employment and during home remodeling work, he was exposed to, ingested or otherwise absorbed large amounts of asbestos fibers emanating from certain products he was working with or around, that were manufactured or sold by the defendants.

William Kozial, attorney for another defendant, John Crane, did not want the case transferred. He argued that John Crane was ready to prove that there was no harm in their products.

Having come close to reaching a trial by jury, plaintiff's and defense attorneys discussed jury questionnaires.

Bilbrey wanted the question, "Do you believe in caps in personal injury?" added.

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