Hearing over attorney's withdrawal in Venezia wrongful death case set Dec. 9

Amelia Flood Dec. 1, 2009, 7:44am


An attorney attempting to withdraw from a stalled 2007 wrongful death suit has been ordered to appear at Dec. 9 hearing.

James Schottel Jr. of St. Louis was not present at the last hearing on Nov. 10 in plaintiff Cynthia Anderson's wrongful death suit against the estate of Thomas Venezia and fellow defendant Robert Staack.

It was supposed to be the final hearing in the case before it would be dismissed for lack of prosecution.

Schottel filed his motion to withdraw as Anderson's attorney in September but is required by Illinois law to appear before the court before he is allowed to bow out.

Anderson and her husband are suing the defendants over what they contend was the wrongful death of their 22 year-old daughter.

Jennifer Anderson was shot in the back of the head in July 2005 at the Belleville home she shared with convicted racketeer Thomas Venezia. Police also discovered the 64 year-old Venezia's body. The police ruled the deaths a murder-suicide.

The Andersons allege that Staack negligently entrusted a gun to a man with depression and other health problems and that his actions helped cause their daughter's death.

At the November hearing, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael O'Malley, filling in for presiding judge Patrick Young, signed an order scheduling a hearing on the withdrawal matter for next week.

The order ends with a command for Schottel to appear.

The two-year old case has not progressed since its filing. Neither defendant in the case has been served. At a previous hearing, Young indicated he was inclined to dismiss the case.

In his Sept. 15 withdrawal motion, Schottel cited the loss of help at his law office as a reason he could no longer continue in the case. Schottel uses a wheel chair and claims that the loss of his aide means he cannot attend St. Clair County court proceedings and that he cannot effectively represent his clients.

Schottel did not show up at a Sept.15 status conference either.
William Berry, who appeared as local counsel for the Andersons, represented Cynthia Anderson at the Nov. 10 hearing.

Cynthia Anderson has previously said she will refile the suit if Young dismisses it. She would have a year to do so.

No defense counsel has entered an appearance or filed any documents in the case thus far.

The Dec. 9 status conference is set to begin at 9:30 a.m.

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

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