Traveling Big Top

The Madison County Record Jul. 9, 2005, 6:34pm

So SimmonsCooper is going on tour.

Thanks to the digging of The Record’s investigative ace Steve Korris, now we know that Madison County’s largest law firm is taking its asbestos lawsuit-filing circus on the road.

First stop: Wilmington, Delaware, best known as the place working stiffs like us send those credit card payments. For now.

Word that some forty asbestos lawsuits have recently found their way to New Castle (DE) County ‘s Superior Court guarantees the talk around Wilmington will soon move from plastic to cold hard cash.

We can all theorize what or who provoked SimmonsCooper’s venue ‘diversification’ out of Madison County—- bright media lights and Judges Lloyd Karmeier and Daniel J. Stack come immediately to mind-- but nobody questions the firm’s incentives.

Reaping a reported $3 to 4 million per asbestos settlement, trial lawyers would file them in Nome, Alaska if the courtroom climate felt right. In this matter, anyplace cooler than Edwardsville would likely do.

The temperature around here nonwithstanding, SimmonsCooper’s move eastward proves what we’ve believed all along. Madison County’s asbestos docket is and always has been only about the money.

We don’t mean to play master of the obvious here but rather to for once and for all eliminate the trial lawyers’ prevailing asbestos argument. A quarter of the nation’s asbestos cases didn’t come to the Metro-East because of our unique local lawyerly know-how and one-of-a-kind judicial expeditiousness.

Listen to the founders and promoters of Madison County’s so-called “rocket docket” justify why our little courthouse became an asbestos magnet and you’d think ours was the only viable, practical option.

“We have the expertise to handle these,” Madison County Chief Judge Edward Ferguson once explained to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, presumably with a straight face.

Delaware’s judges will face down their new caseload as asbestos rookies. But as they’re universally appointed by the state’s trial bar-friendly Governor, look for them to catch on quickly.

Madison County trial lawyers are patient—- but they don’t take American Express.

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