Madison - St. Clair Record

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Two of 207 asbestos claims set for trial this week are on behalf of Madison County plaintiffs

By Ann Maher | Dec 9, 2014


Among the 207 asbestos cases set for trial in Madison County this week, just two of the plaintiffs are from Madison County.

One of them, Judy Stroder of Granite City, had her lung cancer case filed in 2010 by the Gori Julian firm of Edwardsville.

The other, Richard Blotevogel of Bethalto, had his mesothelioma case filed in 2012 by attorney Bob Perica of Alton.

While the huge number of cases set for trial is significantly more than could actually be handled in the Madison County courthouse, none of the more than 200 cases appear to be going to trial this week.

Older cases that have been continued from previous trial dockets for various reasons such as scheduling conflicts or discovery issues, can result in a heavy December trial docket.

Last week's jury docket had 181 cases set for trial, and none of those went to trial.

Cases set for trial but don't go to trial can be settled or continued.

Only one has gone to trial this year, and it ended in a verdict for defendant Crane Co. on Feb. 28.

It marked the third asbestos defense verdict in as many trials since 2010 in Madison County.

Through the years, defendants have fought to keep out of state asbestos claimants out of Madison County, with little success.

Earlier this year, a group of companies that are commonly named defendants in Madision County asbestos cases, appealed asbestos judge Stephen Stobbs who denied their motions to dismiss lung cancer suits based on forum non conveniens.

In petitions filed June 23 and July 14, they argue that Stobbs's orders are a “clear abuse of discretion” because the cases brought by out of state claimants have no relevant connection to Illinois. Those petitions remain pending at the Fifth District Appellate Court.

Stobbs, who has presided over the asbestos docket since October 2013, denied the motions on May 23 saying defendants failed to sufficiently argue that Illinois is inconvenient for all parties involved in the cases, failed to show that the plaintiffs could have filed their claims against all defendants in another state and specifically failed to state which court in alternate states would have been a more appropriate jurisdiction.

The defendants, including Union Carbide Corporation, CBS Corporation, Honeywell International, Inc., Crane Co., Georgia Pacific, LLC, Ingersoll-Rand Company, Trane U.S., Inc., General Electric Company, National Automotive Parts Association, Carlisle Brake & Friction, Inc., 84 Lumber Company and York International Corp., further argue that the denials render the forum non conveniens doctrine a “dead letter” in cases involving numerous defendants, which applies to every asbestos case filed in Madison County.

Other statistics regarding the 207 cases set for trial in Madison County this week:

- The two Madison County plaintiffs represent .9 percent of the total;
- A total of 20 plaintiffs are Illinoisans outside of Madison County, representing 9.6 percent of the total;
- Most of the suits, 177 or 85 percent, are mesothelioma claims;
- Most of the suits, 172 or 83 percent, are claims brought by the Gori firm or the Gori firm along with an associate firm;
- Three were filed in 2009;
- Ten were filed in 2010;
- Thirty-three were filed in 2011;
- Eighty-four were filed in 2012;
- Seventy-two were filed in 2013; and
- Five were filed this year.

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