News & Articles

02 February 2015

ASBESTOS DEVELOPMENTS: Madison Cty back in the top 5 on Judicial Hell Hole List


Notwithstanding the recent appointment of Republican Judge Stephen Stobbs to the asbestos docket in the Madison County Circuit Court, the court has made its way back onto the Judicial Hell Hole List for 2014/2015. One of the factors contributing to that “accolade” was the push by numerous plaintiff counsels to have Justice Carmeier not retained on the Illinois Supreme Court as well as the push to revive the $10.1 billion tobacco verdict reach back in 2003 which was already thrown out by the Illinois Supreme Court.  Moreover, Madison County continues to have asbestos filings that double their 20-year average.  That coupled with the Illinois lame-duck legislature’s gift to the plaintiff bar of removing asbestos cases from the state’s construction statute of repose and the recent appointment of Martin Mengareli of the Simmons Hanly Conroy firm make the future appear somewhat foreboding in that jurisdiction.


The plaintiff appealed a jury defense verdict for the defendant in Carol Holloway v. Sprinkmann Sons Corporation of Illinois, 2014 Il. App. (4th) 131118, NO. 4-13-1118.  The plaintiff appealed on 3 perceived errors, i.e. that the court failed to sanction the defendant for violating an order in limine during the opening statement, that the court failed to sanction defendant for improperly influencing the corporate witness’ testimony and that the court failed to grant plaintiff’s motion for directed verdict on causation.  The motion had also sought a new trial based on the “verdict was against the manifest weight of the evidence” argument.  On the first two counts, the appellate court found against the plaintiff mainly because the plaintiff had chosen to seek a motion for default judgment instead of seeking a mistrial and thus, in waiving the right to a new trial during trial, the plaintiff had also waived the right to a new trial at this juncture as well.   Essentially, the court noted that plaintiff’s decision not to seek a mistrial during the trial was tactical but ultimately ruled that you cannot take that gamble during trial and then appeal on that point if your gamble does not pay off. The court also found that there was enough evidence on which the jury could have found that plaintiff did not make her case against the defendant.  The court noted that the Plaintiff offered only speculation that asbestosis resulted from repair work on insulation, though she had no evidence placing her near repair work in factory. Consequently, the trial court was affirmed.