Plaintiff wants to continue trial in Hopkins Goldenberg legal malpractice case

Amelia Flood Mar. 18, 2010, 7:11am


The widow of a man who allegedly died from an asbestos-related disease wants to put off a legal malpractice trial against several prominent Madison County attorneys.

Plaintiff Frances Choat, acting as administrator of her husband, Marlin Choat's estate, filed a motion March 3 to continue her April 5 trial.

Madison County Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian is set to hear arguments on the motion April 1 at 9 a.m.

Frances Choat is suing the Hopkins Goldenberg law firm, John Hopkins, Mark Goldenberg, William Miller, Elizabeth Heller and David Antognoli. The law firm of Goldenberg, Miller, Heller & Antognoli P.C. is also named as a defendant in the suit.

Frances Choat filed suit alleging that the attorneys failed to pursue a claim against the makers and distributors of asbestos products on her husband's behalf and then allowed the statute of limitations to lapse.

The suit names several defendants who are also being sued by a different asbestos widow, Judy Buckles. Buckles' suit is pending before Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder. Crowder recently denied a move in the Buckles case to bring attorney John Simmons and his law firm back into the case after he and the firm were granted summary judgment five years ago.

In the Choat suit, Frances Choat alleges that after Marlin Choat died from complications of pulmonary fibrosis in 1999, she retained the Hopkins Goldenberg firm to pursue a lawsuit.

She claims nothing happened and the claims have since lapsed.

The suit seeks damages in excess of $50,000.

The defendants deny Choat's charges in their answer. They claim that Marlin Choat's medical records did not show evidence of an asbestos connection to his work in the 1960s at Dow Chemical Company's Madison County plant as a finisher.

They also argued that France Choat has not sought to off-set her damages by registering in Madison County's Asbestos Deferred Registry.

John Hopkins moved to dismiss Frances Choat's claims in March 2007, citing a number of continued case management conferences at which the plaintiff did not appear as proof of lack of prosecution.

Matoesian denied the motion to dismiss.

Choat is represented by William Schooley of Collinsville.

The defendants are represented by John Papa of Granite City and Daniel Konicek of Chicago. Papa and Konicek also represent several defendants in the Buckles suit.

The Choat case is Madison case number 05-L-718.

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Dow Chemical
2030 Dow Center
Midland, MI 48674

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