Hylla hurls 'hypocrite' accusation; Weber says Hylla uses court for profit center

Steve Gonzalez Oct. 23, 2006, 11:10am

In full attack mode, the Democratic candidate for Madison County circuit judge accused his Republican opponent of being a hypocrite during a press conference Monday.

Attorney Dave Hylla accused Circuit Judge Don Weber of accepting referral fees on an asbestos case filed by SimmonsCooper of East Alton and a wrongful death suit filed by Alton attorney Tom Falb.

According to court documents supplied by Hylla, Weber referred a mesothelioma case to SimmonsCooper as well as a motorcycle fatality accident case to Williamson, Webster, Falb and Glisson.

"Don Weber has spent this entire campaign publicly attacking me and other lawyers who represent injured people, but privately he has referred or worked as co-counsel on exactly the same kinds of cases he publicly criticizes," Hylla said.

"I don't have an issue with an attorney referring appropriate cases to law firms with special expertise in a particular area, however I do have a problem when my opponent says one thing in public and does another in private hoping the voters don't notice," Hylla added.

Weber fired back saying he was proud to be involved in the asbestos suit.

Weber said that his friend of 20 years was diagnosed with mesothelioma so he referred the case to SimmonsCooper.

"The difference between Hylla and his firm and the case I referred is the plaintiff in my case lived, worked and died in Madison County, while Bilbrey and Hylla bring cases from all over the country in order to turn the courts into a profit center," Weber said.

"The Madison County asbestos docket has become a cash cow for people like Dave Hylla," Weber added.

Hylla also said Weber's $31 million libel suit against former St. Clair County power broker Amiel Cueto is a "classic example of lawsuit abuse."

He said the 1983 suit, which followed a long-running, bitter, political feud, was nothing more that Weber's attempt "to get rich."

Hylla said it is "important" in light of Weber's claims that he will reform the court system.

"The most basic abuse is when people try to use our courts to get what they don't deserve," Hylla said. "I believe that is what Don Weber tried to do."

Hylla said frivolous suits damage the reputation of the courts and hurts honest and hard-working people who later come to court with deserving claims.

Hylla also added, "I have never filed a frivolous lawsuit, but Don Weber tried to profit off our court system and I want to make it clear that as a judge I will not tolerate people binging frivolous lawsuits into my courtroom."

Weber said the 31-count Cueto suit was filed after Cueto tried to de-rail a corruption investigation into Jim Barton, the former Madison County Supervisor of Assessments, who plead guilty to taking bribes.

"I fought crime and corruption in Madison County and I received a few bruises doing that," Weber said.

Weber also added that Hylla "has nothing to show for himself," which is the reason behind digging dirt from 25 years ago.

"I have fought the fight," Weber said. "Dave Hylla has done nothing."

"If Hylla wants to voters to decide on the issues he raised, that is fine by me."

Weber also called on Hylla to release his income tax returns for the last five years, something Weber is prepared to do also to show the difference between the incomes of the two.

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