Status hearing continued in Venezia wrongful death suit

Amelia Flood Feb. 18, 2010, 8:50am



A status hearing in a wrongful death suit brought by the parents of a 22 year-old killed in a Belleville murder-suicide has been continued for 60 days.

A former attorney in the case has filed a move with the Illinois State Supreme Court asking it to direct St. Clair County Circuit Judge Patrick Young to allow him to keep $1,600 the plaintiffs paid him.

The status hearing Thursday was continued pending that motion's resolution.

The new hearing date is May 3.

Michael and Cynthia Anderson are suing the estate of Thomas Venezia and Robert Staack for allegedly causing the death of their daughter, Jennifer, in 2005.

Jennifer Anderson was found dead from a gunshot wound in the home she shared with Venezia, a convicted racketeer. Thomas Venezia was also found dead from a gunshot wound.

The deaths were ruled a murder-suicide.

In their 2007 complaint, the Andersons allege that Staack is guilty of negligent entrustment for giving Venezia the gun used in the incident.

Neither defendant in the case has been served since the suit's filing.

After fingerpointing by both plaintiffs' attorneys William Berry and James Schottel Jr. over the reason for the suit's lack of progress, Schottel moved to withdraw in September 2009. After failing to come to several hearings prior, Schottel was allowed to withdraw in December.

However, Young ruled that Schottel must return the $1,600 retainer the Andersons paid him as a condition of his withdrawal.

Schottel moved shortly after for Young to reconsider that.

At a January hearing at which Schottel was again not physically present, Young denied the move by telephone conference call.

Schottel then filed his motion with the Illinois State Supreme Court.
A copy of that motion is not yet available.

William Berry is still listed as local counsel for the Andersons, although they have said in previous interviews that they are seeking new representation.

No attorneys are listed for the defendants.

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

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