Although sympathetic to an attorney who claims he was gypped out of class action fees, Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack still threw out a third amended breach of contract claim on Tuesday.
Stack also ordered mediation for Godfrey attorney Timothy Campbell and his former partners of the Chicago firm of Freed & Weiss in at least two similar pending cases in Madison County. He also pushed for mediation in a third pending case in neighboring St. Clair County.
Campbell has sued Paul Weiss and his law firm several times for allegedly failing to pay him fees he earned working on a number of class action suits. Those suits were filed when Campbell worked in partnership with Weiss and the former Lakin Law Firm earlier this decade.
Some of the class actions pursued by the three firms included claims against Allstate Insurance Company led by Dr. Gerald Bemis and a class action against Hartford Group led by lead plaintiff Winnie Madison, according to exhibits filed with Campbell's third complaint.
The Allstate case settled while the Hartford suit remains pending.
That partnership fell apart several years ago but the fee disputes remain.
"I think you're right," Stack told Campbell's attorney John Hoefert. "I think there was a fight. And I think if there wasn't a fight, Tim would've got something for this. I'm sympathetic to you, Jack."
However, Stack agreed with the arguments made by Weiss' attorney, Richard Burke, that Campbell had not pled breach of contract, namely because no contract existed over the fees alleged in the case before Stack.
"This case isn't going anywhere," Burke said. He pointed out that Stack has already dismissed Campbell's complaints as "lacking."
"We've been running the same circus for years. This is the fourth bite at the apple," Burke said.
Campbell's previous two complaints were dismissed by Stack.
The latest version of his fees complaint was filed in November 2009.
Hoefert argued that his client's contribution to the cases was clear and that the documents that were provided proved Weiss and his firm owed Campbell fees.
"If it wasn't for Mr. Campbell, Mr. Weiss wouldn't have made a dime on these cases," Hoefert said.
Stack reviewed the complaint, asking if the documents attached were evidence of a contract.
Hoefert told him that they were all that his client had.
"I don't see a contract, Jack," Stack said. "I don't see a contract."
Stack and the attorneys went off record for a time before Stack went back on it to order Campbell to mediate his Madison County cases.
Stack also recommended he take a St. Clair County suit against the defendants to mediation as well to resolve all of the disputes once and for all.
Should mediation fail, Campbell will have 21 days to file a fourth complaint.
The case before Stack is Madison case number 08-L-364.