Closing arguments set Thursday in former law partners' dispute over Connors' settlement

Christina Stueve Oct. 13, 2011, 3:00am

A trial involving a $10.5 million settlement is expected to close Thursday morning in St. Clair County after six weeks of heated discussions between former law partners Michael Constance and Edward Brennan.

Associate Judge Andrew Gleeson is scheduled to preside over closing arguments beginning at 9 a.m.

As the attorneys started their arguments before Gleeson, Cook told defense attorney Jeffrey Muskopf, "Lawyers are supposed to comment on discovery. I suppose you don't know what that is."

"Mr. Cook always sneaks in that last little insult," Muskopf said to Gleeson. "No matter how much the court admonishes Mr. Cook, he just can't help but insult me."

"Mr. Muskopf should pay attention, your honor," Cook said.

Constance sued Brennan in April 2010 on claims that Constance did not receive a fair share of a settlement reached with former tennis star Jimmy Connors in November 2009. Their former firm Brennan, Cates & Constance of Belleville began representing Connors in 1991 on various matters including Connors' relationship with the proposed Alton Belle Casino.

According to Constance's complaint, Brennan, Cates & Constance, which dissolved in 1998, reached an agreement with Connors in 1992 in which Connors agreed to pay the partners 20 percent of the money he received in the Alton Belle and Argosy venture.

In a fifth amended complaint, Constance claims that in February and March of 1997, Connors directed his agents to transfer 458,333 shares of Argosy stock to Brennan and/or Brennan, Cates & Constance.

Constance wants the court to assign a constructive trust to the settlement fund and require Brennan to render an accounting and pay Constance's fair share of the settlement. He also seeks fees, costs and punitive damages.

In the meantime, Brennan has filed a counter-claim against Constance. He seeks dismissal of Constance's claims with prejudice, monetary damages in excess of $50,000, punitive damages, interests, costs, attorney's fees and other relief.

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