Parents in Venezia suit oppose attorney's retainer move; McGlynn files their response

By Amelia Flood | Feb 24, 2010

Michael and Cynthia Anderson of Belleville are objecting to a petition filed by their former attorney who wants to keep a $1,600 retainer fee that St. Clair County Circuit Judge Patrick Young ordered be returned.

In the Andersons' response to St. Louis attorney James Schottel Jr.'s petition, Belleville attorney Stephen McGlynn wrote that Schottel is asking for "an extraordinary remedy."

Schottel filed a motion for leave to file a complaint for a writ of mandamus or writ of prohibition with the Illinois Supreme Court in late January.

Schottel is asking the high court to change Young's order that directed him to repay the Andersons' fee as part of his withdrawal from the couple's 2007 wrongful death case.

The Andersons' suit was brought on behalf of their daughter, Jennifer Anderson, against the estate of convicted racketeer Thomas Venezia and Robert Staack.

McGlynn is not representing the Andersons in their wrongful death suit.

Jennifer Anderson was found dead in the Belleville home she shared with Venezia in July 2005. Jennifer Anderson was killed by a gunshot wound to the back of her head.

Venezia was also found dead.

The deaths were ruled a murder-suicide by the Belleville police.

The Andersons allege that Staack is guilty of negligent entrustment for giving Venezia the gun used in the shootings when he was allegedly ill and depressed.

To date, neither defendant has been served in the case.

Schottel filed to withdraw as the Andersons' attorney in September. Young allowed that withdrawal on the condition he return the couple's retainer.

Schottel filed a motion asking Young to reconsider his ruling.

After Schottel failed to appear at a January hearing on the motion, the matter was taken up in a telephone conference in Young's chambers. With Schottel calling in, Young upheld his previous order and denied the request.

Schottel filed his motion with the Supreme Court shortly after.

On behalf of the Andersons, McGlynn argues that Schottel is not entitled to anything, given the lack of work he had done in the case.

"As of September 15, 2009, when the Petitioner filed his Motion for Leave to withdraw ... the Court's record showed zero effort was made by Petitioner to secure service against either named Defendant nor reflected any evidence Counsel did anything to advance litigation," the Feb. 16 response reads.

McGlynn goes on to allege that Schottel's "mismanagement" of the case has "rendered it extremely difficult to secure legal representation to prosecute the case."

Since Schottel's withdrawal, the Andersons have been unable to find another attorney, although William Berry of Belleville is named as local counsel.

The Andersons' objections ask the Supreme Court to deny Schottel's request.

The move remains pending in Springfield.

Meanwhile, Young continued a Feb. 18 status conference in the case for 60 days pending the outcome of the Supreme Court motion.

The case is St. Clair case number 07-L-359.

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