Judge Daniel J. Stack will preside over his first asbestos trial

Troyce Wolff

Barry Julian

Jeffrey Hebrank

Madison County’s first asbestos trial in nearly two years got under way this morning with opening arguments in Circuit Judge Daniel J. Stack’s third floor courtroom.

Willard King, age 77, of Fenton, Mo., blames Bondex, Georgia Pacific, John Crane, RPM Inc. and Lynn Tractor and Equipment Company for his deadly asbestos-related illness. He claims he was contaminated from working on farm equipment and cars from 1950 through 1987.

Represented by Barry Julian of Alton and Troyce Wolff of Texas, King was diagnosed with mesothelioma on May 5, 2004.

A trial was originally scheduled to begin Feb. 14. It was delayed when Jeff Hebrank, attorney for Georgia-Pacific and Bondex, asked for a continuance because plaintiff attorney Julian asked the court to deny admission of asbestos-related rulings from other jurisdictions.

In light of Julian's motion, Hebrank asked for more time to prepare his case.

Hebrank also took occasion to charge plaintiff's counsel with sitting on documents and stalling the discovery process.

“(Julian) never had an honest answer to interrogatories," Hebrank said. "His fraud has handicapped us.”

Jurors, who were already picked for the case, were admonished by Stack not to discuss this case, do any independent research regarding asbestos or litigation in general, and to avoid reading any related newspaper articles during the three-month recess.

This is Stack’s first asbestos trial since taking over the large docket from fellow Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron last fall.

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