Masters at work on the eve of class action reform

By Steve Gonzalez | Feb 16, 2005

Stephen Tillery

Days before congress approved the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005--which in effect moves most class action filings from state to federal court--the masters of the Madison County Circuit Court quite simply, hustled.

Seven Monday, six on Tuesday and Wednesday, one on Thursday. (See related stories: Lakin files new batch of class actions against insurance companies; Lakin makes it a baker's dozen in two days; Mutual fund management center of Tillery class action).

The theme in St. Clair County was similar. In the same week that a record number of class action cases were filed--20--in Madison County, a total of 10 were recorded in St. Clair County. Year-to-date totals for each county, which have been dubbed the No. 1 and 2 "judicial hellholes" in the nation, are astonishing: 23 in Madison County and 18 in St. Clair County.

By comparison, last year at this time five class actions had been filed in Madison County and five in St. Clair County.

In the cases filed Feb. 16 in Madison County, Stephen Tillery, whose firm Korein Tillery was the top class action filer in Madison County last year, joined the fray.

He filed on behalf of Paula Beals--and others similarly situated--against Variable Annuity Life Insurance.

Bradley Lakin of the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River--who was championing the causes of plaintiffs in 13 other class actions filed in Madison County during the week--filed yet another. On behalf of Diane Turner, Lakin filed a class action suit against ITI Bank, Bancorp Bank and Moonlight Marketing.

Meanwhile, Richard Burke of the Lakin Law Firm, filed four class action cases on behalf of local chiropractors and rehab facilities.

Targets included One Beacon Insurance, Chesapeake Life Insurance, Cincinnati Insurance Company and Auto Owners Casualty.

On Feb. 17, Lakin filed another class action suit against General Electric Capital Assurance Company on behalf of Wilma Juanita Kern and Judith A. Chapman. Plaintiffs allege that GECAC failed to pay for their long-term-assisted-care because they did not live in an accredited facility in Illinois, even though they paid their premiums.

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