Maag calls absent Tacoma, Wash. executive to the stand

Steve Korris Oct. 27, 2005, 8:47am

Thomas Maag

Heads swiveled in the courtroom of Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack when attorney Thomas Maag dramatically called Virgil Llapitan to the witness stand.

Llapitan, president of ITI Internet, did not respond to Maag’s call. He was 2,000 miles away, attending to business at the company’s office in Tacoma, Wash.

“Your honor,” Maag loudly said, “I call to the stand Virgil P. Llapitan.”

No one moved.

Maag asked, “Is he present?”

He was not, answered attorney Mark Bauman of Belleville, who represents ITI Internet.

A notice to produce Llapitan was dated Saturday, Oct. 22, said Bauman. He first saw the notice Monday, Oct. 24.

Bauman said it was unreasonable to expect Llapitan to appear in two days from Tacoma, adding that the notice would apply only to a trial or evidentiary hearing.

Maag had planned to question Llapitan in order to demonstrate that Stack had jurisdiction in Turner vs. ITI Internet, a class action suit.

Linda Turner of Wood River sued ITI Internet, Moonlight Marketing and Bancorp in February, claiming they endorsed and deposited a $199 check without her permission.

ITI Internet moved Stack to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.

At an Oct. 26 hearing on the motion, Bauman told Stack that none of ITI Internet’s transactions involved Illinois.

He said Moonlight Marketing was in Canada, Bancorp was in Pennsylvania, and ITI Internet was in Washington state.

Bauman said Moonlight Marketing customers submitted check information to ITI Internet, which passed the information to Bancorp. He said his client acted as a “middle man.”

The contract between Moonlight Marketing and ITI Internet ended in 2003, Bauman said, adding that the transaction in Turner’s suit happened after the contract ended.

Maag moved to strike an affidavit of Llapitan.

He said that if Llapitan were present, he would say the opposite of what he stated in the affidavit.

“How can you say that?” countered Bauman.

Maag said the affidavit contained conclusions, not facts.

Stack overruled Maag’s motion to strike the affidavit.

Maag said the defendants stole $199 from Turner’s checking account.

He said the check showed an account number for ITI Bank and said Llapitan admitted in his affidavit that ITI Internet is also known as ITI Bank.

Bauman said the check showed no endorsement of ITI Bank. He said ITI did not write, transmit or originate the check, but did not know why the bank's name appeared on a deposit stamp.

“There is not enough here to show that ITI was involved,” Stack said.

Maag asked leave to conduct additional discovery on jurisdiction. Stack granted it.

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