Stack's dismissal of 25 asbestos case resonates

Steve Gonzalez Jan. 31, 2005, 11:03am

Circuit Judge Daniel Stack

Donald Flack of Korein Tillery

A precedent-setting decision in Madison County's nationally renowned asbestos docket last October--where a Louisiana man's claim for damages was dismissed for improper venue--continues to resonate.

Circuit Judge Daniel Stack dismissed 25 asbestos lawsuits Jan. 28 which were filed by toxic tort specialists Baron and Budd of Texas and its local counsel, Korein Tillery of St. Louis.

“His honor has made it crystal clear that forum shopping will not be tolerated,” commented a defense attorney who asked not to be identified. “He has made consistent rulings ever since the case he sent to Louisiana.

Since Korein Tillery attorney Donald Flack stipulated that there was no plaintiff exposure in Madison County or Illinois, the cases were dismissed, Stack said in an interview in his chambers.

Just two days prior to Friday's dismissal, Stack denied several motions on forum non conveniens by General Electric in separate cases since the case was set for trial in less than a month.

In November, Stack also denied a motion from Bondex and Georgia-Pacific to dismiss Arlington Heights resident Luke Lindau on the day the trial was to convene. Stack has stated that there is a proper time to file the motions, but the eve of trial is not that time.

Some defense attorneys claim that Judge Byron, who was the asbestos judge for nearly 10 years in Madison County, liked to hear forum motions on the eve of trial.

“Byron would not even schedule a hearing on the motion until weeks or sometimes even days before a trial was to start,” the defense attorney stated. “This is just an adjustment period for me, every judge is different.”

Early in Stack's handling of the county's massive asbestos docket, he dismissed several that had no ties to the county, establishing that the county was not a business--that the court's function is to administer justice.

Stack will hear motions again for forum non conveniens on Feb. 1 at 10 a.m. in Courtroom 351.

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