More asbestos removed to federal court; Judges recuse

By Steve Korris | Dec 4, 2013

All three available federal judges recused themselves from five mesothelioma suits that defendant Crane Company recently removed from Madison County to the Southern District of Illinois.

Chief District Judge David Herndon assigned four of the cases to Magistrate Judge Stephen Williams and the fifth to Magistrate Judge Donald Wilkerson.

Herndon advised all defendants that if they object to the assignments, he will assign a judge from another district.

Crane Company asserted federal jurisdiction in November, pleading that plaintiffs alleged exposure to asbestos while serving in the U.S. Navy.

The company attached to its removal notices specifications it claims it had to meet when supplying products to the Navy.

The removals prompted many defendants to seek a tighter standard of pleading.

On Dec. 2, clients of Edwardsville law firm HeplerBroom moved for more definite statements in all five cases.

“Plaintiffs aggregate allegations against several defendants in a single, unspecific statement,” Michael Chessler wrote.

Chessler wrote that the complaints did not specify times and locations of exposures to products of his clients.

He wrote that the complaints were so vague and ambiguous that his clients could not prepare responses.

HeplerBroom represents 13 defendants in one or more of the cases.

It represents Georgia Pacific and Trane U.S. in all five, and it represents Ingersoll-Rand and Industrial Holdings Corporation in four.

Another HeplerBroom client, FOSECO Inc., moved to dismiss one of the cases for lack of jurisdiction.

Chessler wrote that FOSECO hasn’t sold a product in Illinois since 1972.

None of the plaintiffs reside in Illinois.

Randy Gori of Edwardsville represents plaintiffs James Gurnett of Bonner Ferry, Idaho, and Edward Kirschner of Galveston County, Texas.

Amy Garrett of Alton and the firm of John Simmons, also of Alton, represent Donald Graham of Venango County, Pa.

Allyson Romani of Maryville, in the local office of Shrader and Associates of Houston, represents Ralph Fulwider of Covelo, Calif.

Ross Stomel of Houston, also with Shrader and Associates, represents the estate of Larry Mohler of Quay County, N.M.

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