Clean up docket sweeps away 200 Madison County asbestos cases

Steve Korris Oct. 19, 2007, 1:30am

Judge Stack

Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack closed more than 200 asbestos suits Oct. 12, as attorneys dumped cases they didn't care to pursue any farther.

Stack, running a "cleanup docket," shut down at least 98 suits of the SimmonsCooper firm in East Alton.

He didn't exactly dismiss the suits. He packed them off to a "special closed" file.

That means a plaintiff can reopen a suit against a defendant that bounces back from bankruptcy.

The court docket, however, brands each case as terminated.

Stack sent away 41 cases of the Edwardsville firm of Goldenberg Heller Antognoli Rowland Short and Gori.

He completely closed 20 other Goldenberg cases.

Stack sent away 37 cases of Edwardsville attorney Michael Bilbrey and 22 cases of St. Louis attorney Andrew O'Brien.

The attorneys didn't drop dull cases that languished for years. Most of the suits had stirred up heavy action until recently.

In some cases the dockets alone filled more than 100 pages.

Dropping the suits doesn't mean plaintiffs wish they hadn't filed them, for they produced countless settlements.

Some plaintiffs dismissed dozens of defendants.

Different firms showed different age patterns.

Bilbrey mostly dropped suits he filed in 2003. He dropped six from 2004 and only one from 2005.

The Goldenberg firm mostly dropped suits it filed in 2003 and 2004. The firm dropped only four from 2005.

SimmonsCooper dropped a fresher batch than Bilbrey or Goldenberg, giving up 46 suits it filed in 2005.

O'Brien dropped a fresh batch too, giving up 16 suits he filed in 2005.

Bilbrey and O'Brien each gave up a case from 2000.

Stack's cleanup docket also featured cases from Wise and Julian, Korein Tillery, and Motley Rice, but they apparently skipped the event.

Dockets of their cases showed no entries for Oct. 12.

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