Asbestos legal malpractice trial to get under way Monday
A long running dispute over a number of asbestos attorneys' handling of a man's mesothelioma cases in the late 1990s will begin trial Monday.
Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder sat down with both sides to hammer out the details of the suit Thursday afternoon.
Plaintiff Judy Buckles is suing the former Hopkins Goldenberg law firm – now known as Goldenberg Heller, Antognoli and Rowland of Edwardsville – alleging legal malpractice in failing to secure large enough settlements in her husband's mesothelioma claims.
She also contends that due to their negligence, the firm allowed some of those claims to lapse.
In the month preceding the pre-trial conference, both parties argued over the role attorney John Simmons may have played in the claims.
At one point, the Goldenberg defendants appeared to argue that it was Simmons' fault that the claims lapsed.
At one point there had been overlap in which attorneys represented Buckles in the underlying mesothelioma actions.
Although Buckles moved in mid-February to vacate the summary judgment Simmons was granted five years ago, Crowder denied that move in March.
She also denied both parties summary judgment March 2.
The Hopkins Goldenberg defendants have since asked Crowder to reconsider that denial.
Crowder told the parties Thursday that she was in the process of rendering her decision on that request.
The attorneys had already agreed on a number of the many motions in limine filed by the defense and a few filed by the plaintiff.
They assured Crowder that they were working on jury instructions and exhibits.
The suit is set to open at trial at 9 a.m. Monday with attorneys from both sides arguing motions in limine.
Crowder also cautioned the parties that she may not be the judge overseeing the case.
Crowder is in the process of taking over the county's packed "asbestos docket from retiring judge, Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack.
If Crowder does not oversee the Buckles trial, she assured the parties that someone would take up the matters for her.
Buckles originally filed her suit in 2001. She re-filed it five years later.
Buckles is represented by Roy Dripps of St. Louis.
The Goldenberg firm is represented by John Papa of Granite City and Daniel Konicek of Geneva.
The case is Madison case number 06-L-588.