Legally blonde

The Madison County Record Dec. 26, 2004, 11:06am


Thomas Maag

A Blonde, White Male

Whitley

All in the family

Tis’ the season to be jolly, but Madison County’s Maag family seems a bit perturbed these winter months.

Gordon Maag’s newly-filed $110 million defamation lawsuit against Judge Lloyd Karmeier’s supporters has been the talk of the town.

Meanwhile, Thomas Maag, Gordon’s son and a personal injury lawyer himself with the vaunted Lakin Law Firm of East Alton, is still pursuing his lawsuit against Karmeier’s former spokesman, Steve Tomaszewski.

To refresh memories, Thomas Maag is accusing Tomaszewski of trespassing to put campaign signs on his property.

Worse, Maag says Tomaszewski then told people Maag didn’t own said land. That’s called “slander of title”- count two in the lawsuit.

“Tomaszewski falsely and maliciously published…words which disparage Maag’s title to the land, including by issuing press releases to newspapers," says the complaint. “(Tomaszewski) told others, including a blond haired white male, who (sic) name is unknown at this time, that Maag did not own the land.”

Thomas Maag says this all damaged his reputation. He wants “less than $50,000” for the trespassing but sky’s the limit for the “slander.”

And why not? Telling newspapers is one thing. But that mysterious blond-haired white male—he’s the wild card.

Yes, he could be a white, blonde nobody-- like some random neighbor or former Silver Spoons star Rick Schroeder.

But what if he takes Celebrex or Vioxx or has purchased an extended warranty plan recently? Think about the lost opportunity.

This case, filed November 10, has been reassigned by the Illinois Supreme Court to Judge Leo Zappa of the Seventh Circuit in Sangamon County.

Home Court?

The conventional wisdom among know-it-alls has been that Gordon Maag filed his defamation lawsuit here because Madison County will treat him favorably.

But at least one high-level Dicta source at the courthouse says they wouldn’t count on it. They called the case a “no win situation” for whichever Madison County Circuit Court judge gets it.

Initially assigned to his courtroom, Judge George Moran has already recused himself from Maag’s lawsuit.

Our bet: Chief Judge Edward Ferguson looks to move it elsewhere, as he did Maag v. Tomaszewski.

The “B” Team

Paul Hampel, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s beat reporter at the Madison County Courthouse, was on vacation last week.

So he gets no blame for the paper’s error-ridden initial story covering Maag’s blockbuster lawsuit.

Post-Dispatch reporter Georgina Gustin mistakenly reported that Illinois Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Doug Whitley was a named defendant in Maag’s suit and misspelled the name of Illinois Civil Justice League chief Edward D. Murnane.

And when it was first posted online (many hours after the Madison County Record posted its own, we proudly add), the Post-Dispatch story included a picture of Judge Karmeier mis-captioned as Gordon Maag.

Gustin’s usual beat is the criminal stuff, so we’ll cut her some slack. And at least the Post-Dispatch did a story.

The Edwardsville Intelligencer, whose office is even closer to the courthouse than is ours, didn’t get to covering Maag’s lawsuit until two days later. We call that 'horse-and-buggy' reporting.

Have we explained yet why we saw the need to start this newspaper?

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Illinois Chamber of Commerce
215 E Adams St
Springfield, IL 62701

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