A Granite City man's lawsuit against his wife whom he is divorcing, is one with a "bizarre set of facts," declared Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder who heard motion in the case on Tuesday.
Thomas Dodd is suing Carol Dodd, Ameren Services Company and Granite City Steel Federal Credit Union for more than $50,000 in damages, plus a count seeking $191,052.56 over fraudulently obtained assets.
According to Thomas Dodd, Carol Dodd -- his wife of more than 20 years -- allegedly left him in a bathtub without food for two days after he suffered a fall in the tub. She allegedly forged his signature in order to cash out an investment account he owned a few months before the incident occurred.
Thomas Dodd claims Carol Dodd forged his signature a second time to deposit the funds at the GCS credit union and that she then used the funds to open two certificates of deposit (CDs) in her name and that of her sister, in 2006.
He also claims Carol Dodd intentionally inflicted emotional distress and failed to aid him or call for help when he fell in the couple's bathroom in July 2006.
The couple initiated a divorce in 2007.
It remains pending. A hearing is set in the divorce for April 7 at 10 a.m.
Crowder heard a number of motions including moves by two defendants to freeze the $191,000 at issue and a plea to stay the civil case's proceedings while the Dodds proceed with their divorce.
Moves were made last year in the case to freeze the couple's marital assets and stay the civil case until the resolution of their 2007 divorce.
However, those matters remained pending until Tuesday's hearing.
Crowder took over the case in February. It had been one of the cases assigned to Chief Judge Ann Callis. Callis began shifting cases away from Circuit Judge Daniel Stack last December.
Stack plans to retire later this year.
Crowder first took up the motion to freeze the $191,000. Ameren and GCS argued that an order freezing the money had already been entered in the divorce. The pair said they wanted to preserve the amount in the civil case as well.
Crowder granted the move, saying her order would be identical to the one in the divorce case.
GCS attorney Samuel Wolfe then asked that Crowder to stay the civil case until the Dodd divorce is finalized. Wolfe argued that having both the divorce and the civil suit proceed at the same time could lead to conflicting orders.
Wolfe attempted to argue that the actual ownership of the $191,000 in question would not be settled until the end of the divorce but he was cut off by Crowder.
"It's going to be a fun trial," Crowder remarked.
"No," she told Wolfe as to his motion to stay the suit.
Crowder told Wolfe and the other attorneys present that she saw the divorce as a separate issue. She further explained that the civil courts do not recognize so-called "marital property." Crowder said the suit alleges that the funds in question belonged to an account soley belonging to Thomas Dodd and not his wife.
"Illinois is pretty clear on that," she said.
Crowder also denied a move by Carol Dodd's attorney Alexander Wilson to dismiss counts of the plaintiff's first amended complaint.
The most heated argument was over the fourth count of the amended complaint. In that count, Thomas Dodd alleges that Carol Dodd had a special relationship requiring her to aid him by virtue of their marriage.
Wilson said that Illinois law doesn't recognize that relationship as one with an added obligation.
Crowder turned to plaintiff's attorney Thomas Burkart, voicing her own surprise at the count.
"That's the one I have the most questions about," Crowder told Burkart. "There's no good Samaritan duty is there?"
Burkart agreed that the count of negligence as to failure to render aid was unusual.
He cited, however, that Carol Dodd had helped his client before when he fell and that he could not conceive of a statute excusing a wife from aiding a stricken husband.
"If she had the opportunity to rescue [him], than she certainly had an obligation to rescue [him]," Burkart said.
Crowder allowed the count to stay despite her questions.
She acknowledged the bizarre set of facts.
"How often do you have a person fall in a bathtub and stay there for two days when there's another person in the house who refuses to help?" Crowder said.
Crowder also signed an order clearing up several discovery issues and setting the case for a management conference in June.
In addition to Thomas Burkart's complaint, the defendants have filed multiple claims for contribution against one another.
Thomas Dodd is represented by Thomas Burkart. He had originally been represented by Mark Levy.
Ameren Services Company is represented by Gordon Broom. Gary Meddows appeared on behalf of Ameren on Tuesday.
Carol Dodd is represented in the civil suit by Alexander Wilson.
The Dodd divorce is assigned to Madison County Associate Judge Stephen Stobbs.
The case is Madison case number 08-L-606.