Buckles case may go to appeals court, trial called off Friday before opening

Amelia Flood Jun. 24, 2010, 5:43am



A long-fought legal malpractice case involving a number of well-known Madison County attorneys did not go to trial as scheduled Monday.

A suit filed by plaintiff Judy Buckles may take a trip to the Fifth District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon instead.

Buckles asked for and was granted time to prepare questions of law for the possible appeal of a June 18 order entered by Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder.

The order partially granted summary judgment to defendant Goldenberg Heller, Antognoli, and Rowland of Edwardsville.

Buckles sued the Goldenberg firm's former incarnation, attorney John Simmons, and Simmons' law firm for legal malpractice originally in 2001, before she refiled suit five years later.

Buckles claims that her attorneys, beginning with those at the then-Hopkins Goldenberg law firm, failed to secure adequate settlements in her husband's mesothelioma claims.

She also claimed that negligence by the Goldenberg firm's attorneys, including John Simmons who took over her case, resulted in several lapsed claims she could have pursued in the late 1990s.

The suit's hearings have featured complicated arguments as to which attorneys had a hand in the events leading up to the last claims.

A pre-trial conference in February devolved into a long argument between Buckles' attorney Roy Dripps and counsel for the Goldenberg firm over what Simmons and his law firm had done in the case.

The Simmons defendants were granted an uncontested summary judgment five years ago in the suit.

Following the February pre-trial conference, Buckles filed a move asking Crowder to vacate the Simmons' summary judgment and to bring those defendants back into the case.

Crowder denied that motion in March.

Crowder also denied both Buckles and the Goldenberg firm's motions for summary judgment March 2.

The Goldenberg firm, however, filed a motion asking Crowder to reconsider granting it summary judgment.

Crowder had already given the firm a partial summary judgment related to Buckles' claims over the settlement amount of an underlying case against asbestos defendant Pittsburgh Corning.

In that partial summary judgment, Crowder ruled that the $750,000 settlement the law firm secured was adequate.

In her June 18 ruling on the renewed summary judgment plea, Crowder granted it in part and denied it in part.

In the order, Crowder reiterated that the summary judgment granted to Simmons and his law firm prevents Buckles from seeking relief based on those defendants' acts.

Crowder granted the Goldenberg firm summary judgment related to claims based on Simmons' employment and actions while working for the law firm.

Crowder denied the Goldenberg firm summary judgment related to Buckles' claims that its employees' negligence in handling the settlements led to overcharges.

Crowder then vacated the June 21 trial date.

She then ordered the parties to confer and draw up a joint order related to the potential appeal within 21 days.

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.

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