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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Former judge Murphy called up in Tillery’s suit against economists involving minor league baseball class action

By Record News | Jun 7, 2017

BENTON – Stephen Tillery has retained former U.S. district judge Patrick Murphy to pursue a claim that failure of a research contractor jeopardized a possible class action among minor league baseball players. 

Murphy entered an appearance in U.S. district court on June 2, in the Korein Tillery firm’s action against Advanced Analytical Consulting Group, of Massachusetts. 

Murphy filed a brief on jurisdiction on the same date, arguing that the action belongs in St. Clair County. 

Tillery started it there earlier this March, naming researchers and economists Daniel Levy and Audrius Girnius as second and third defendants. 

Defendants removed the action to federal court in May, claiming that Tillery fraudulently sued Girnius, an Illinois citizen, to defeat federal jurisdiction. 

Defense counsel Troy Bozarth moved for transfer to Massachusetts, writing that the research contract provided that any action be brought there. 

District Judge Phil Gilbert ordered Tillery’s firm to show cause why he shouldn’t find fraudulent joinder, and Murphy stepped forward. 

Previously, firm member Aaron Zigler alone represented the firm.    

“The gist of the dispute is that Levy and Girnius promised Korein Tillery that they could estimate the work hours of minor league baseball players as a whole and ultimately calculate their wage and hour damages by observing a sample of these players entering and leaving their ballparks,” Murphy wrote.   

“However, just five weeks from the expert disclosure deadline, and after collecting nearly $500,000, defendants admitted that they were unable to tell the difference between baseball players and ushers, concession workers or other employees entering the ballparks; their entire study was worthless.” 

Murphy wrote that by wasting months, “they jeopardized the outcome of the case for the entire class of minor league baseball players.” 

He wrote that the facts give rise to viable claims against both Girnius and Levy under Illinois consumer fraud law and common law. 

“On phone calls, Girnius claimed that the study would be able to calculate class wide damages,” he wrote. 

“Those statements were false and they were at the least made with reckless disregard for the truth. 

“Girnius and Levy represented that they, as experts, could conduct a study in a specific fashion. 

“In fact, they could not do so, and they either knew this fact before engaging in the study or they knew it shortly after beginning the study.” 

Murphy proposed to amend the complaint in order to supplement individual allegations against Girnius. 

He wrote that a new complaint would not change theories of liability against Girnius but would simply clarify the allegations. 

Gilbert set a June 16 deadline for defendants to respond.

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U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois