Simmons dismissed from asbestos legal malpractice case
Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder has dismissed John Simmons and his firm from a legal malpractice suit against Mark Goldenberg and his firm.
At a Jan. 30 hearing, Crowder said no one filed opposition to a summary judgment motion from Simmons.
She continued trial from Feb. 9 to Oct. 13.
Plaintiff Judy Buckles alleges that Goldenberg's firm mishandled an asbestos suit she filed for the estate of her late husband.
Simmons worked for Goldenberg when she filed her suit, and when he left he took the Buckles file with him.
Although Buckles alleged that Simmons negligently represented her, he answered that he reached settlements with some defendants on "sketchy product identification."
He even settled a case that had outrun the statute of limitations, he claimed.
Crowder decided on the spot what to do about Simmons, but she will take time deciding whether to disqualify LakinChapman law firm from representing Buckles.
Goldenberg seeks to oust LakinChapman because former Lakin lawyer Gary Peel represented the Goldenberg firm in a related case.
For Goldenberg, Dan Konicek of Chicago told Crowder a law firm can't switch sides.
Roy Dripps of LakinChapman said Peel had limited involvement in the case, received no confidential information and took no part in settlement negotiations.
He said Peel is no longer with the firm or practicing law.
That was understatement, because Peel currently occupies a prison cell for trying to blackmail his former wife.
Konicek said he presumed Peel had confidential information.
Crowder said she received a response that day from Dripps.
"I will get an order out as quickly as I can," she said.
She said she must balance any presumptions against plaintiff's right to choose counsel.