A legal malpractice case filed by a medical doctor--who also happens to be a lawyer and an expert witness--is expected to go to trial Monday, Dec. 5.

Rocco Marrese, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon, filed suit against the Belleville law firm Gundlach, Lee, Eggmann, Boyle & Roessler on Jan. 23, 2004, after a Madison County jury returned a $1.8 million verdict against him in a medical malpractice trial.

Marrese operated on Mike Adams three times after he was involved in a work related accident on June 27, 1992.

The verdict was appealed, but it was affirmed by the Appellate Court for the Fifth District.

Judgment became final in June 2004 after the Illinois Supreme Court denied a motion to hear the case.

Adams filed his suit against Marrese in November 1998 alleging the treatment he received was substandard, prompting Marrese’s insurance company to hire Richard Roessler to represent him.

According to Marrese, his insurance paid $1 million leaving him to pay $874,000 to satisfy the judgment.

In Marrese’s suit, he claims the law firm was negligent by:

  • Permitting without objection Adams to call him to the stand and to cross-examine him as an adverse witness when he had not been designated as such by Adams;

  • Failing to raise the statute of limitations as to portions of the alleged maltreatment which would have been barred;

  • Permitting Adams in his final argument to make statements without objection which were untrue and harmful which created prejudice;

  • Failing to employ and present a rehab expert in order to accurately describe Adams' injuries and conditions so as to refute those of Adams' expert; and

  • Failing to make investigation of matter related which could have provided material to impeach and discredit Adams' testimony.

    “Gundlach Lee permitted Adams' claim to prevail, or even had it prevailed, it would have resulted in damages less than $1 million,” the complaint states.

    On March 29, Marrese amended his complaint to add that he also has sustained serious restrictions upon his abilities to continue his profession as an orthopedic surgeon and consequently will continue to lose money.

    Marrese has licenses to practice law in Illinois, Missouri and Indiana, and he continues to practice medicine.

    Shortly after the case was filed, Morris Chapman, who represents Marrese, asked for a new judge because the case was assigned to Circuit Judge George Moran.

    Chapman felt he could not receive a fair trial from Moran because of comments Chapman made in several newspapers in 1994 when Moran was running for judicial retention.

    Chapman donated $25,000 to a group called Citizens for a Moral Judiciary who claimed Moran was “incompetent and has given the court a black eye.”

    The case was then transferred to Kardis. His replacement on the bench, Circuit Judge Don Weber has been assigned to the case.

    It will be the first trial over which Weber presides.

    The trial is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.

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