Church is 'forum shopping'; Greensfelder asks to take St. Stanislaus case to St. Louis

Amelia Flood Jan. 13, 2011, 5:00am

The Rev. Marek

The law firm being sued by its former clients in a dispute over who owns and controls St. Stanislaus Koska Roman Catholic Church is asking to take the case across the river to St. Louis.

The law firm of Greensfelder, Hemker and Gale P.C. of Swansea filed its motion to dismiss a St. Clair County brought by the Polish-Roman Catholic St. Stanislaus Corporation Dec. 20.

Greensfelder claims St. Stanislaus is "forum shopping" by bringing suit in St. Clair County.

The church is suing the firm for allegedly encouraging its former attorney Roger Krasnicki to use his knowledge of St. Stanislaus against it in the Polish church's dispute with the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

The Archdiocese and St. Stanislaus have been embroiled in a dispute over control of the parish located in north St. Louis City for the better part of a decade.

That dispute has included the removal of the parish's priest, ex-communication from the Roman Catholic Church and at least two lawsuits including the St. Clair County case.

Another suit filed by former St. Stanislaus board members and the Archdiocese of St. Louis is currently at trial in St. Louis' 22nd Circuit Court.

According to the Dec. 20 filing, St. Stanislaus attempted to have Greensfelder disqualified as counsel in the St. Louis suit, only to withdraw that motion.

The church claims Krasnicki shared confidential information about his client with his firm and breached the standards of professional conduct governing attorneys.

In the Dec. 20 motion, the Greensfelder firm claims that St. Stanislaus choice of venue in St. Clair County is "blatant" forum shopping, as St. Louis city has the greatest connection to the case.

The law firm argues there are not witnesses, evidence or other factors in the case that tie it to St. Clair County.

"Rather than filing suit in the City of St. Louis where the alleged tort occurred, St. Stanislaus engaged in blatant forum shopping," the motion and its supporting brief argue. "Indeed, St. Stanislaus identifies no connection at all between this case and St. Clair County other than that Greensfelder maintains a satellite office in St. Clair County."

The motion alleges that the wording of the lawsuit is nearly identical to the motion to disqualify that the church withdrew in the Missouri suit.

Michael Nester represents the Greensfelder firm.

Thomas Keefe Jr. represents St. Stanislaus in the St. Clair County action.

Greenfelder also moved for and was granted a substitution of judge, from Circuit Judge Robert LeChien to Circuit Judge Lloyd Cueto.

The case is St. Clair case number 10-L-545.

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