Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack has ordered the parties in a complicated suit stemming from the break-up of a marriage and an alleged forgery to mediate their disputes.
Thomas Dodd is suing his wife of more than two decades, Carol Dodd, Ameren Services Company and Granite City Steel Federal Credit Union.
He claims that his wife left him without food or water for days after he fell in the couples' bathroom. He also claims she took more than $190,000 from his retirement accounts with Ameren and forged his signature to open two credit union accounts at the Granite City Steel credit union in her name and that of her sister's.
The Dodds are in the process of divorcing in Madison County. That case was filed in 2007.
According to attorneys for the Dodds, the divorce decree is all but wrapped up. The two still must settle their property disputes before it goes into full effect.
Ameren and the credit union also have third party claims pending against Carol Dodd.
"So, if you say they owe you, then they say she owes us," Stack said, summing up the case.
The civil case had previously been assigned to Stack before going to Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder.
Crowder had the case until July 30 when her civil docket was transferred to Stack. The transfer took place because Crowder has taken over the county's packed asbestos docket, a role previously held by Stack.
Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis said earlier this week that the docket including the Dodd case will go to Stack's likely successor, Madison County States Attorney William Mudge, when Stack retires later this year.
Mudge, a Democrat, is running unopposed for Stack's seat.
Crowder had previously frozen the credit union accounts of $185,000 pending the final divorce settlement.
Madison County Associate Judge Steve Stobbs oversees the divorce case.
Stack had been set to hear arguments from plaintiff's counsel Thomas Burkart as to the dismissal of the defendants' affirmative defenses.
Those arguments quickly spun into discussions about what role marital property plays in the case and what, if any, damages Thomas Dodd suffered.
"Money got where it was intended to go," argued the credit union's attorney, James Craney.
The funds are currently in an escrow account at the Bank of Edwardsville pending the finalization of the divorce.
Stack questioned Burkart at length about the issues, often disagreeing with Burkart about Carol Dodd's claims to the money she allegedly took.
He questioned how Burkart, who represents Thomas Dodd in the divorce, could discuss the $190,000 in the divorce as marital property and not claim Carol Dodd had a right to handle it in the civil case.
"I don't see how you can take contradictory positions from case to case," Stack told Burkart.
After denying portions of Burkart's motion to dismiss some affirmative defenses and granting others, Stack asked the parties shortly before a recess whether they had mediated the civil suit.
After the recess, Stack returned, finished up ruling on defense questions and ordered the parties to mediate.
He suggested they attempt to mediate the remaining marital disputes as well.
Burkart asked if the parties could continue discovery and complete it before mediation.
"No," Stack said, adding mediation often takes care of any need for added discovery. "It doesn't mean you have to settle but you sure have to try."
The hearing's 1:15 p.m. start was held up due to traffic and a need to settle whether Stack could hear the case at all.
Stack told attorneys at the beginning of the hearing that he had accounts at the Granite City credit union but that he did not believe it impacted his ability to hear the case.
Burkart asked if there was a possibility Crowder could continue hearing the case.
Stack gave the attorneys a few moments to go confer with Crowder, who declined to take the case back.
"Judge Crowder said not in a million years," Burkart reported to the court on returning.
Thomas Dodd is represented by Burkart.
Ameren is represented by Gordon Broom and Gary Meddows.
Carol Dodd is represented by Alexander Wilson.
The credit union is represented by Craney.
Callis had also previously overseen the suit.
The case is Madison case number 08-L-606.