Madison County asbestos cases filed through June 30 reaches 393

Ann Knef Jul. 18, 2011, 5:45am


At this year's midpoint, a total of 393 asbestos cases have been filed in Madison County Circuit Court.

Figures released by the Circuit Clerk's office also show that through June 30, there have been four medical malpractice cases and three class action lawsuits filed.

As for the asbestos docket, a vast majority of the cases filed are on behalf of out-of-state residents.

In a review of 19 cases filed between June 24-29, just two of those plaintiffs reside in Illinois. The rest are from as far as Rhode Island to as near as Indiana.

Eleven of the plaintiffs claim mesothelioma; eight claim lung cancer.

The Simmons firm of Alton filed 12 of them; the Gori firm of Edwardsville filed four; the Goldenberg firm of Edwardsville filed two and the Mauche firm of St. Louis filed one.

Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder, who presides over the court's massive asbestos docket, is deciding whether to scale back or keep 500 trial dates per year. She heard arguments in March from both sides of the bar.

Defendants argue that the court's calendar setting encourages plaintiff lawyers to market the asbestos docket nationwide.

Plaintiffs counter that the calendar allows plaintiffs to request trials in an orderly fashion. They also argue that if defendants are bothered by where cases come from, they should file forum motions.

While Madison County has long hosted one of the largest asbestos dockets in the country for plaintiffs near and far, its neighbor to the south has in recent years become a plaintiff-friendly asbestos venue for out-of-state claimants.

In 2010, dozens of asbestos lawsuits were filed in St. Clair County by mostly out-of-state residents. By comparison, there were just 61 asbestos cases filed in St. Clair County in four years between 2004-2007. None were filed in 2008.

Four of the 2010 St. Clair County asbestos cases face forum challenges at the Fifth District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon. Justices heard oral arguments on the matter last week.

In another recent development, St. Clair County Associate Judge Andrew Gleeson last month dismissed four asbestos cases on defendants' forum non conveniens motions.

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