Two judges sign orders on same case , same time

Steve Korris Apr. 6, 2006, 10:10am

Judge Stack

Figuring out which Madison County judge should hear a case has turned so tricky that on March 29, two judges entered orders at the same time in the same case.

The mistake caused no harm, but it captured the confusion that Circuit Judge George Moran left behind when he cleared out and retired.

In the case, the estate of Joel O'Donnell sued more than 100 companies last year. Ted Gianaris of SimmonsCooper represented the estate.

Chief Judge Edward Ferguson assigned the case to Moran.

Defendants moved to dismiss. Moran added the motions to a long docket of hearings and conferences he had set for Feb. 9.

Moran cleared out of the courthouse Feb. 8.

When attorneys reported to Moran's court next morning, they found a sign directing them to the court of Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron.

In cases where attorneys agreed on discovery or schedules, Byron signed orders.

When the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Lola Maddox to replace Moran, his cases all passed to her.

Maddox set a long March 29 docket that included the O'Donnell case.

Somehow the case also turned up on Stack's March 29 docket.

Attorneys apparently gathered in Stack's court, for he signed an order that scheduled discovery and set trial for Aug. 13, 2007.

Maddox signed an order setting a management conference May 24.

Some red flag flew when both orders hit the circuit clerk's office.

Maddox cleared it up. "Apparently two inconsistent orders were entered in this case today," she wrote.

She vacated her order and adopted Stack's.

Many defendants have settled, and many have moved to dismiss or transfer.

Clorox attorney Richard Haas of Chicago argued in a March 6 motion that O'Donnell did not allege that he was a Madison County resident.

Haas wrote that the decedent worked hundreds of miles from Madison County and the plaintiff alleged no exposure there.

He wrote that the plaintiff did not allege that the decedent ever had any personal contact with Madison County for any reason.

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