Attorney files to withdraw from Venezia wrongful death suit

Amelia Flood Sep. 30, 2009, 6:33am


A St. Louis lawyer has asked a St. Clair County judge to withdraw from a wrongful death case on the same day the judge allowed it to continue despite years of inaction.

James Schottel Jr. asked to withdraw from a lawsuit brought in 2007 by Cynthia and Michael Anderson of Belleville on behalf of their slain daughter, Jennifer Anderson.

In his motion filed Sept. 15, Schottel Jr. cited staffing issues at his law firm and his physical condition.

He wrote that because he suffers from paralysis and cannot drive, and because he lost an associate and his administrative assistant, he has encountered "problems in appearing in court and being able to diligently represent the Plaintiffs."

Schottel's co-counsel, William Berry of Collinsville, appeared the same day along with plaintiff Cynthia Anderson to ask Circuit Judge Patrick Young not to dismiss the suit for want of prosecution. Berry asked Young at the time to set a case management hearing on Nov. 10 at 9:30 a.m.

The Andersons are suing Robert Staack and the estate of Thomas Venezia.

Jennifer Anderson and Venezia, a convicted racketeer, were found dead in the Belleville home they shared in July 2005. Both died from gunshot wounds and the deaths were ruled a murder-suicide by the Belleville Police Department.

The Andersons allege Staack negligently gave Venezia the gun that he allegedly used to shoot their daughter.

There has not been a defense answer to the suit, as the defendants have not been served. The status conference has been moved several times, most recently on Sept. 15 due to Schottel's inability to appear in court.

The case is St. Clair case number 07-L-359.

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