CHICAGO – Brian Wendler of Edwardsville, personal injury lawyer for Teamster truckers, settled his seven year defamation suit against insurer AIG.
On March 11, at the U.S. Seventh Circuit appeals court, he voluntarily dismissed a petition to reopen a case he lost last year.
He blamed AIG for a message that appeared on a Teamster website in 2002, displaying a news story about his arrest on a domestic battery charge.
The message read, "Don't make the same mistake me and my husband did – it's a waste of time."
His firm, Wendler and Ezra, sued AIG in Madison County in 2003.
He claimed the Teamster webmaster traced the message to an AIG computer.
AIG removed the case to federal court at East St. Louis in 2004.
District Judge William Stiehl granted summary judgment to AIG, twice.
The first time, Seventh Circuit judges ruled he improperly left a discovery motion hanging when he granted judgment.
On remand, Stiehl denied the motion and granted judgment again.
He wrote that Wendler had no useful information about the source of the posting.
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 at least 20,000 persons had access to AIG computers.
Wendler appealed last October.
The Seventh Circuit stayed proceedings in January and directed his lawyer, Michael Blotevogel of Alton, to report to the settlement conference office on Feb. 5.
Under federal court rules, appellate judges can send attorneys to settlement conferences "to address any matter that may aid in disposing of the proceedings."
Prior to a conference, lawyers must consult with clients and obtain "as much authority as feasible to settle the case."
The docket doesn't show that they met, but it shows they closed the case.
Eric Mattson of Chicago represented AIG.