“You like po-tay-toes and I like po-tah-toes
You like to-may-toes and I like to-mah-toes
Po-tay-toes, po-tah-toes, to-may-toes, to-mah-toes
Let's call the whole thing off”
Such was the dynamic at HarrisMartin’s Midwest Asbestos Litigation Conference in St. Louis two weeks ago when plaintiffs attorney Michael Angelides of Simmons Hanly Conroy in Alton and defense attorney Anne Schmidt of HeplerBroom in Edwardsville squared off in a discussion of “The History of Madison County Asbestos Litigation.”
Opposing counsel contrasted “myths” and “facts” relating to that history, with Angelides contributing to the myths and Schmidt supplying some of the facts.
Angelides insisted, for instance, that case filings had leveled off since the record high in 2013. Au contraire, said Schmidt. Angelides claimed that case filings and trial settings had decreased “significantly” since 2002.
Schmidt politely demurred, noting that the number of cases filed in Madison County has increased overall, that trial settings have increased slightly, and that the number of plaintiff firms filing asbestos cases in Madison has more than doubled in the last 15 years.
So it went.
Along with Gori Julian and Maune Raichle, the Simmons firm that Angelides works for is one of the three biggest asbestos case filers in Madison County. Over the last five years, Simmons and Gori Julian have averaged 300 case filings annually, and Maune Raichle 200. This year, however, Gori Julian has filed 327 cases, a fact that Angelides found praiseworthy, offering a shout-out to firm founder Randy Gori.
Chicago-based Avocet Enterprises is currently in Fifth District Appellate Court seeking sanctions against Gori Julian for having “named Avocet without any good faith basis” in an asbestos case. Avocet's attorney notes that Gori Julian “has sued Avocet in more than 400 similar cases and . . . all but four of those cases resulted in dismissal without liability and without a single dollar in settlement payments.”
“Congrats to Randy. Good job!” Angelides exclaimed at the conference, with Schmidt declining to second the sentiment.