The Madison County Record Nov. 4, 2007, 1:11am

Some trial lawyers aren't made, they're born.

That could explain David Cates, son of notorious local suer Judy Cates and the man behind Crandall v. AT & T Wireless, otherwise known as the latest and greatest big swinging, multi-million dollar class action lawsuit spawned by the Metro-East's famous creative litigation class.

Cates, age 26, just passed the bar last November and, as far as we can tell, this is his very first lawsuit. We suppose it speaks to his ambition, if not his pedigree, that he's sought to take on a $120 billion per-year behemoth, the largest telecommunications company in the U.S., fresh of the gate.

Then again, there's the matter of his possible mentor. When young Cates personally donated $1,500 to Democrat U.S. Senator Dick Durbin back in March, he listed his occupation as "law clerk."

That's with "Carr, Korein, Tillery," as in Stephen Tillery, his mother's ex-law partner and arguably the most imaginative local class action artist of them all.

Maybe trial lawyers are born, and made.

In his own first would-be masterpiece, filed in U.S. District Court last week, Cates seeks to represent a horde of allegedly unhappy AT & T Wireless and Cingular customers who, he claims, were "induced" into buying inferior phones that couldn't get the best reception the company had to offer. As is the tradition, he vilifies the company of duping its customers for the purpose of "profits."

"Cingular's representations were intentionally designed to deceive consumers, forcing them to spend more money for the purchase of new cellular telephones," Cates spins in his complaint, painting the typically abominable picture of an intimidator-slickster sales representative who won't take "no" for an answer.

We'll be interested to see how the depiction holds up, as well as how Cates proposes to explain his plaintiffs were damaged, many of whom racked up mega-minutes on their allegedly crummy phones, despite their supposedly being hoodwinked.

Not that we'd ever doubt the tactical tenacity of one whose worked at Tillery's knee. Where there's a will to squeeze legal fees out of a corporation, there's a way to argue things are actually worse than they seem.

No doubt, for David Cates this won't be the last time. The next generation of jackpot justice-seekers has arrived. We will be watching in earnest.

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