Carr will be called by defense to testify in Thompson Coburn trial

Steve Gonzalez Mar. 4, 2008, 5:30am

Carrie Hogan

When trial resumes Thursday in a case against Thompson Coburn, plaintiff Magna Bank will finally rest, but in an odd twist its lead lawyer Rex Carr will be called to testify by the defense.

Representing Thompson Coburn, Carrie Hogan of Jones Day in Chicago plans to ask Carr about his role in steering clients to James Gibson -- the notorious businessman who ended up swindling structured settlements from children and widows.

Hogan said in opening arguments that Carr was among a number of lawyers who advised clients to enter into agreements with Gibson. She said evidence would show that Carr did nothing to investigate Gibson or his company, SBU.

She also said Carr had advised clients that they faced no risk in doing business with Gibson. She said Carr made a significant amount of money from steering clients to Gibson.

The trial is currently in a three-day recess while presiding Judge Daniel Stack attends a conference in Chicago. The trial, which was originally scheduled to last four weeks, is entering its fifth week.

As Thompson Coburn's defense unfolds, jurors can expect to hear either live or video testimony from former Magna presidents Roger Beaman and Matt Finn, Magna's general counsel Carolyn Ryseff and another in-house lawyer, as well as Jeff Heuer, a former in-house lawyer.

During her opening, Hogan had also compared Magna's problems to the Titanic, saying that by the time Thompson Coburn was retained to fix the situation, it was too late, the boat had already taken on too much water.

"By the time Thompson Coburn was asked to help Magna, it was like giving a passenger a bucket and telling them to start bailing water," Hogan said.

She said the real cause of Magna's losses was a single event -- Gibson stealing money.

Hogan said Gibson "turned from an honest business man into a criminal" and that all the documents the bank signed were prepared by Gibson.

"He took bonds and liquidated them," Hogan said. "It was nothing my clients did, the ship was going down and there was nothing we could do to stop it."

She said Thompson Coburn never advised the bank to enter into the initial contracts with Gibson, and that was the real downfall.

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