Swansea trial attorney and newly elected Fifth District Appellate Judge Judy Cates filed a motion to withdraw Monday from a lawsuit against a Roxana landlord for alleged negligence and wrongful death.
Cates was sworn into office on Monday.
The Cates Law Firm will be counsel of record for the plaintiffs and attorney Ryan Mahoney will be the new lead counsel, according to the motion.
The lawsuit involves plaintiffs Tiffany Gresham and Toni Leeds, special administrator of the estate of Skye Nichole Gresham, and Jason Matthew Gresham II, who sued Dawson M. Cooper on April 9 in Madison County Circuit Court.
Four months after Tiffany Greshman and her children moved into an upstairs apartment in a house owned by Cooper in Roxana, the home was destroyed by fire on Feb. 5, 2011. Gresham's two children, ages 5 and 6, died from their injuries. The suit contends a faulty stove, electrical and gas line problems and missing or malfunctioning smoke detectors were to blame.
Cates' motion notes her recent election.
“In light of Attorney Cates’ new position, it is in the best interests of the Plaintiffs and this litigation that Judy Cates withdraw as counsel for plaintiffs herein,” the motion states.
Cooper filed his response to the lawsuit July 18. He claims Gresham’s negligence caused the fire. He claims she failed to notify the defendant of problems she was having with the stove and that she tampered with the carbon monoxide detector by moving it or removing its batteries.
He also claims the conditions she complained about were open, obvious or known to her.
William B. Starnes II of Reed, Armstrong, Mudge & Morrissey represents the defense.
The case is assigned to Madison County Circuit Judge Andreas Matoesian.
Madison County Circuit Court Case No. 2012-L-434