Dell Hell

The Madison County Record May 13, 2007, 8:00am

The blue hyperlink. It represents, indisputably, the essence of the Internet.

Whatever. We've been arguing about it here in Edwardsville for five years now; about whether for web surfers, the concept just assumes too much.

And one wonders why it takes so long to obtain justice-- or closure-- at the Madison County Courthouse.

Serial court clogger Steve Tillery, the Belleville plaintiff's attorney who cannot seem to stop making news, deemed the hyperlink unworthy back in 2002. He filed a class action lawsuit against Dell, the Texas-based company that makes more computers than almost any other in the world.

His argument: following a hyperlink is too much to ask. Online computer buyers had to click on one to read the "terms and conditions" of their online purchases with Dell. They had to follow a link to learn that, if they were to have a future problem, they'd have to try arbitration first before hauling off and hiring a guy like Tillery to sue the company.

Arbitration is a cheaper alternative to litigation. It doesn't involve lawyers or legal fees. Mr. Tillery doesn't dig arbitration. Go figure.

Then-Third Circuit Judge Phillip Kardis-- his spirit lives on-- agreed with Tillery. But sanity prevailed. In 2005, the Fifth District Appellate Court reversed him with authority.

The justices wondered-- why did the court allow Tillery to enter a Washington Post newspaper article as evidence? And isn't the fact that someone is buying online enough to assume they know how to use a hyperlink? The court ordered in March 2006: Tillery's Dell case should be dismissed.

The case is supposed to be but another (sad) Madison County memory. So why are we still talking about it?

The Record
learned last week that Tillery v. The Internet, like the $10.1 billion Philip Morris verdict, apparently still lives.

Far from being tossed in the Third Circuit dustbin like those higher-ups in Mt. Vernon demanded, it is still hanging around in limbo, playing the useful vehicle for Tillery on a separate crusade, helping him challenge Chief Judge Ann Callis' rule that limits judge shopping by lawyers.

It mustn't. A year late, the Dell case should be dismissed immediately once and for all, ending this charade.

It's time our judges stopped bending over backwards to accommodate Mr. Tillery and started showing some respect for the integrity of Illinois' appellate court system.

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