Sparks fly in Madison County asbestos trial

Steve Gonzalez Jun. 1, 2005, 11:58am

In a tension-filled, packed Madison County Court, Judge Daniel Stack nearly directed a verdict in favor of defendant General Electric in the county's second asbestos trial within a month.

"The evidence is weak," Stack said in the crowded third-floor courtroom. “I think I have to deny the motion (for directed verdict), but this is as close as I have ever come.”

Plaintiff Jane Gudmundson of Cook County filed suit in April 2003 alleging her late husband, Harvey Gudmundson, was exposed to asbestos while serving on the U.S.S. Bausell--a navy destroyer-- during the Korean War in the early 1950s.

During today's dramatic events, attorneys for GE also filed a motion for mistrial after co-defendant John Crane’s motion for a directed verdict was allowed by Stack.

“(This is) an improper use of the court and it borders on fraud,” said GE attorney John Fitzpatrick of Leclair Ryan in Richmond Virginia.

Crane filed its motion for the directed verdict after plaintiff's attorney David Greenstone rested his case.

Fitzpatrick claimed that Greenstone made a deal with John Crane not to present any evidence against John Crane.

He argued that no evidence was entered against John Crane nor were any witnesses listed. Fitzpatrick called the practice “highly suspect.”

Greenstone told Stack that to accuse someone of fraud in open court is a “slanderous allegation.”

Not presenting evidence against Crane is “between me and my client,” Greenstone added.

In its sixth day, the trial is expected to go to the jury Thursday afternoon. Closing arguments will be presented after the defense experts are finished testifying.

More News