Tillery skirts substitution rules by amending and adding

Steve Korris Mar. 9, 2006, 12:45am

Stephen Tillery

Everybody in Illinois gets a free shot to remove a judge from a case without cause. Nobody gets two free shots – except attorney Stephen Tillery.

He freely removed two judges from a proposed class action in less than a month.

He accomplished this by adding new plaintiffs and filing a motion for them like the one he had filed for the original plaintiff.

Tillery and attorney Lisa Kernan last year sued American Equity Mortgage and ABN Amro on behalf of Cassandra Williams.

Tillery and Kernan asked the court to certify Williams as representative of a class of cheated customers.

Chief Judge Edward Ferguson assigned the case to Circuit Judge George Moran, who appointed Tillery lead counsel.

American Equity Mortgage moved for substitution. Moran allowed it and Ferguson assigned the case to Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron.

ABN Amro moved for substitution. Byron allowed it and Ferguson assigned the case to Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian.

Plaintiff Williams moved for substitution July 13. Matoesian allowed it and Ferguson assigned the case to Circuit Judge Daniel Stack.

Tillery and Kernan asked Aug. 9 if they could amend the complaint by adding Judy and Charles Kinworthy as plaintiffs. Stack said they could.

The next day Charles Kinworthy moved for substitution. Stack allowed it.

That left Circuit Judge Phillip Kardis as the only available circuit judge. Assigning the case to him would have wasted time, however, because soon he would retire.

Ferguson assigned it Aug. 18 to Associate Judge Ralph Mendelsohn.

In January, defendants answered the amended complaint and submitted affirmative defenses. Tillery and Kernan answered the affirmative defenses in February.

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