Lawyers appeal $21 million Illinois Bell refund; plaintiff asks for $44 million instead

Steve Korris Dec. 23, 2009, 2:19am


When Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack ordered Illinois Bell Telephone to refund $21,671,857 to customers, he didn't satisfy either side.

Illinois Bell filed notice on Dec. 10 that it would appeal Stack's order, and plaintiff lawyer Terrence O'Leary of Granite City filed notice of cross appeal on Dec. 17.

O'Leary, Glenn Bradford of Edwardsville and Springfield lawyers Tom Londrigan, Tim Londrigan and Mary Leahy had asked Stack for about $44 million.

Stack ruled in February that Illinois Bell incorrectly distributed a $90 million refund that the Illinois Legislature required in 2001.

The refund law apparently settled claims of improper pricing before the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Illinois Bell distributed $90 million, but that didn't settle the claims.

In 2003, O'Leary's group sued Illinois Bell in Madison County on behalf of Big Sky Excavating.

In 2004, Circuit Judge Philip Kardis declared the refund unconstitutional.

He found it so openly beneficial to Illinois Bell that it violated a constitutional ban on government support of a private enterprise.

Illinois Bell appealed, and Fifth District judges in Mount Vernon dismissed the appeal.

Illinois Bell appealed again, and the Illinois Supreme Court reversed Kardis.

The case returned to Madison County, where Stack granted summary judgment to Big Sky Excavating this February.

He delayed a decision on damages and while he did, O'Leary's team argued that Illinois Bell refunded less than $60 million to customers who deserved it.

O'Leary's team urged Stack to award more than $30 million plus years of interest.

Stack's Nov. 10 order calculated damages at about $22 million.

He wrote that complete payment might be impossible in regard to determining each and every class member.

He awarded any unclaimed funds to Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation.

On Dec. 9, Illinois Bell lawyer John Papa of Granite City asked Stack to modify the order so that Illinois Bell can retain any unclaimed funds.

Papa wrote that distribution to the Land of Lincoln foundation was inconsistent with adjudication of actual damages.

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