Class representatives too feeble to press on with tax bond case

Steve Korris Sep. 22, 2006, 1:39am

Plaintiffs in a proposed Madison County class action suit over bonds they bought eight-to-10 years ago have grown too feeble to keep the case going.

Attorney William Lucco of Edwardsville notified Circuit Judge Daniel Stack on Sept. 15 that he needed new plaintiffs due to health considerations.

Lucco wrote that his plaintiffs "may be unable to proceed as class representatives."

He moved for leave to amend the complaint, and he identified four new plaintiffs.

He did not tell where they live. None of the current plaintiffs lives in Madison County.

Attorney Stephen Tillery filed the suit in 2001 for Al Kellerman of Monroe County, Lillard Hedden of Peoria, and Frank Crabtree of Ada, Okla.

They proposed to represent all buyers of tax free bonds from 1996 to 1998 in deals that aimed to subsidize nursing homes in Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.

They named as first defendant the broker of the deals, Marion Bass Securities.

Next they named Malachi Corporation, a Chicago nonprofit that owned the nursing homes. They named individual board members and the board's attorney.

They sued law firms, accountants and banks. They sued nine individuals with business ties to the nursing homes.

Malachi declared bankruptcy and the case stalled until 2003, when a bankruptcy court dismissed Malachi.

In 2004 defendants moved to dismiss in favor of a more convenient forum. They proposed Tazewell County, near Peoria, or Hennepin County, Minn.

This June, Stack ruled that defendants failed to show that Tazewell or Hennepin counties would be more convenient.

Stack then offered to pack up the case and ship it to Chicago.

He wrote, "Cook County, Illinois, would appear to be the most convenient forum for all of the parties."

He wrote that an attorney who had not requested Cook County could do so with a supplement to any prior filing.

No one has taken him up on the offer.

One defendant changed venue by leaving earth. Robert Mitchell, attorney for the Malachi Corporation, died this year.

Stack signed an order Sept. 10, dismissing Mitchell "for good cause shown."

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