Shopper Stopper

The Madison County Record Jul. 29, 2007, 5:30am

The truck driver hurt himself in Tennessee. He lives in Tennessee. But he's trying to file his personal injury lawsuit right here, in Edwardsville, Illinois.

To be sure, in Madison County, such brazen attempts at forum shopping aren't limited to class action or asbestos cases. At least not for the notorious 46 year-old plaintiff's lawyer Brian Wendler, the man behind a seemingly continuous string of Third Circuit lawsuits against the Cassens Companies (including this one), which employ 350 here in the Metro-East.

Cassens owns a range of businesses, including a Chrysler/Dodge dealership, an insurance agency and Cassens Transport, which delivers new vehicles from auto manufacturers to local dealerships across the Midwest and Eastern Seaboard. Wendler has sued them all-- and then some.

The standard angle is an alleged injury by a Cassens Transport driver loading cars onto a trailer somewhere in the U.S., which Wendler tries to leverage, collecting damages far and wide. He takes a shotgun approach-- suing the trailer maker and the automaker (GM, Ford, Nissan, DaimlerChrysler & Toyota have felt Wendler's ire), then everything and anything Cassens.

Last summer, Wendler named five Cassens family members, seven Cassens businesses and a Cassens trust in a lawsuit he filed on behalf of an Ohio truck driver, prompting the ire of Judge Dan Stack.

"I don't know why he continues to file these against these people. It seems clear to me that these people don't belong in these lawsuits," Stack complained during a hearing last September.

"He is wasting his time and he is wasting the time of his people," he said. "He is not seeing the forest for the trees."

Not surprisingly, Stack also saw fit to squash Wendler's most recent request to offend our public sensibility. The Tennessee man-- he was injured near Knoxville and lives in Nashville-- doesn't get to file his lawsuit two states and 500 miles away because his lawyer prefers as much.

If Wendler wants to pursue the case, he'll have to do so in the Volunteer State.

Good riddance.

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