BELLEVILLE – St. Clair County Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson on Tuesday granted requests of plaintiffs Jacqueline Everson and Tyrha Dooley to withdraw from pollution claims against Monsanto.
Everson, Dooley, and about 11,000 other plaintiffs claim pollution from Monsanto and Cerro Copper have caused diseases and damaged property.
Prior to the hearing, the two plaintiffs had sought to invalidate a settlement reached between their lawyers at the Environmental Litigation Group in Birmingham, Ala. and local counsel Paul Schoen, and Monsanto.
Everson and Dooley had formed a group of about 300 plaintiffs who wrote to their attorneys in November seeking to terminate them over what they called poor representation that caused them to suffer great losses.
“Motions granted,” Gleeson said in disposing of their motions to withdraw. “That takes care of that.”
Everson asked about the other plaintiffs on the petitions to withdraw.
Gleeson said, “Are you a lawyer, ma’am?”
She said no.
He told her she could represent only herself.
A murmur ran through the gallery, and two or three voices asked questions at conversational volume.
Gleeson said, “This is a court of law. We can’t yell out…You will need legal counsel.
“When you represent yourself, you have to figure out how to do it yourself.”
Everson asked a question and he said, “I’m not going to give legal advice.”
She said the lawyers received 500 letters from plaintiffs.
He said, “I only handle what’s in front of me.”
He told the gallery to file motions as Everson and Dooley did.
After the hearing, held on the day of Martin Luther King’s birthday, plaintiffs gathered in the hall and Dooley told them, “They just conquered us.”
Everson said, “We’re where we are because we’re divided…That’s why they don’t want us to talk to each other.”
Her husband Brian Everson, leading a prayer circle, said the children of Abraham were enslaved and oppressed for 400 years.
“Some of us recognize that we are those people living in America today,” he said.