Attorney is no show at Venezia wrongful death suit status conference

Amelia Flood Nov. 11, 2009, 2:16am


Frustrated over the lack of effort in a St. Clair County wrongful death lawsuit, the mother of a young woman murdered in 2005 wants her attorney to show up in court before he can officially end his representation.

Attorney James Schottel Jr. of St. Louis did not appear for Cynthia Anderson of Belleville on Tuesday in what was supposed to be be a final status conference before the 2007 case was dismissed for want of prosecution.

Cynthia and Michael Anderson are suing the estate of Thomas Venezia and Robert Staack over the death of their daughter, Jennifer Anderson, who was shot in the back of the head in July 2005 in the home she shared with Venezia in Belleville. Jennifer Anderson was 21. Venezia, 64, a convicted felon, was also found dead at the scene. Belleville police ruled it a murder-suicide.

In September Schottel filed notice of his intent to withdraw from the case.

As of yet, neither defendant has been served in the suit.

The Andersons allege that Staack negligently entrusted the gun used in the murder to Venezia, who then allegedly used it to kill Jennifer Anderson and himself.

"You can't give up on your children," Cynthia Anderson said as a reason she would continue to pursue the litigation.

Schottel's co-counsel, William Berry of Belleville, appeared with Cynthia Anderson on Tuesday asking that Schottel be ordered to appear before Circuit Judge Patrick Young.

Circuit Judge Michael O'Malley, who oversaw the status conference while Young presided over a trial, ordered Schottel's appearance.

Anderson cited communication issues as a source of problems in the case.

"It's horrible," she said.

At the previous status conference, Young indicated he was inclined to dismiss the suit.

Anderson said Tuesday that, if the suit is dismissed, she plans to re-file. She would have a year to do so.

In his move to withdraw, Schottel cited personnel issues at his St. Louis law firm and the loss of his assistant. Schottel uses a wheel chair. He said the loss of his helper makes it impossible for him to attend court events in St. Clair County and effectively represent his clients, according to his Sept. 15 motion.

Schottel did not attend the status conference set on Sept. 15 either.

There has been no defense filing in the suit.

The new hearing is scheduled for December.

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

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