Plaintiff wants to depose mystery witness in asbestos legal malpractice case

Steve Korris Jan. 21, 2010, 11:37am




Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder must figure out how to handle a mystery witness in a legal malpractice case set for trial on Feb. 12.

Judy Buckles, who claims the firm of Hopkins Goldenberg bungled her late husband's asbestos exposure suit, has scheduled a deposition of the firm on Feb. 2.

The firm, now Goldenberg, Heller, Antognoli, Rowland, Short and Gori, moved on Jan. 8 to quash the deposition notice.

"Plaintiff has not previously disclosed the unnamed, proposed deponent of the present notice as a witness in this case," wrote Michael Hannigan of Geneva, Ill.

"Unless plaintiff can identify a specific witness that has previously been properly disclosed, that has not previously been deposed and would not otherwise be available to testify at the scheduled trial on this matter, the present notice is improper," he wrote.

He wrote that Buckles has already deposed former partners John Hopkins and Mark Goldenberg, five other lawyers and the firm's former office manager.

"Each of these people gave testimony regarding anyone else who worked on, or had knowledge of, plaintiff's underlying case, yet plaintiff never, and still has not, listed any of those people as potential trial witnesses nor has she sought such a person's deposition," he wrote.

Roy Dripps, of Armbruster, Dripps, Winterscheidt and Blotevogel in Alton, filed the notice for Buckles on Dec. 29.

Dripps asked the defense to designate one or more persons to testify about the asbestos case and a decision to transfer it to John Simmons when he left the firm in 2000.

Dripps asked for the identity of every defendant that remained viable after the firm terminated its representation of Buckles.

He asked for descriptions of evidence the firm generated for exposure of the late Lewis Buckles to products containing asbestos.

He asked for a description of each mesothelioma death case the firm has settled, the identity of each settling defendant and the amount paid.

He asked for each and every reason that the firm dismissed each defendant in the Buckles case.

Buckles filed the suit in 2001, dismissed it, and refiled it in 2006.

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