Madison - St. Clair Record

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Wendler appeals Judge Stiehl's summary judgment for AIG

By Steve Korris | Nov 12, 2009

CHICAGO – Brian Wendler of Edwardsville, personal injury lawyer for Teamster truckers, refuses to lose his defamation suit against insurer AIG.

On Oct. 26, he notified the Seventh Circuit in Chicago that he would appeal a summary judgment order that U.S. District Judge William Stiehl entered on Sept. 28.

Seventh Circuit judges previously affirmed a similar order, with one exception.

They found Stiehl failed to decide a discovery motion before entering judgment.

Stiehl took the case back, denied discovery and entered judgment again.

In the interlude U.S. taxpayers bought four fifths of the defendant.

AIG once claimed title as the world's biggest insurer, and it can retain the title if taxpayers run it well.

Wendler sued AIG in Madison County Circuit Court in 2003, blaming it for a message on a Teamster website about his arrest on a domestic battery charge.

The message advised, "Don't make the same mistake me and my husband did – it's a waste of time."

AIG removed the suit to federal court, where Stiehl granted summary judgment in 2007.

Stiehl held that Wendler produced no evidence connecting AIG to the message.

Seventh Circuit judges didn't see any evidence either, but they remanded because Stiehl hadn't disposed of the last discovery motion.

Stiehl wrote in his second summary judgment order that "remand from the Court of Appeals was not a wholesale opening of the discovery and claims floodgates."

He wrote that it was specific to the issue of whether AIG had useful information about the source of the message.

He wrote that it was Wendler's burden to connect AIG to the message, and not AIG's burden to prove a negative.

He wrote that "the latest round of discovery reveals that defendants have at least 20,000 employees and non-employees with access to an AIG computer."

He wrote that "defendants have no 'useful information' with respect to the source of the Internet posting."

He wrote that he allowed further discovery and it "reveals what the Seventh Circuit predicted – that AIG has nothing more to disclose."

Michael Blotevogel of Alton represents Wendler.

Eric Mattson of Chicago represents AIG.

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