Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Asbestos Cases Once Again Earning Madison County Title of "Judicial Hellhole"

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 7:10 AM

click to enlarge A skech inside a Madison County courtroom.
  • A skech inside a Madison County courtroom.
Earlier this decade Madison County, Illinois, earned the title "Judicial Hellhole" thanks to the outrageous number of asbestos cases filed there.

In 2003 alone trial attorneys filed an astounding 953 asbestos claims in the county -- most of which had nothing to do with Madison County other than the fact that the county's court system had favorable jurors and judges who tended to award big rewards to victims.

Then for a couple years, the asbestos claims declined a bit. Now guess what? They're back.

As the Madison Record lays out this week, cases alleging mesothelioma (the lung disease caused by asbestos exposure) are rising quick.

Per the Record:
Asbestos filings have steadily increased in Madison over the last three years, with new cases filed so far in 2009 exceeding the 2008 annual total. As of this month, 656 new asbestos cases have been filed in Madison, versus the 2008 year-end total of 639.

That's much less than the 2003 peak of 953 filings, but Madison still claims one of the hottest asbestos dockets in the country and seems hellbent on reliving its inglorious recent past.

It's not just friendly and obliging jurors that attract plaintiffs' attorneys to the Edwardsville courthouse. No, it's also a special incentive-to-settle that former Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron added to the "Asbestos Welcome Wagon" five years ago.

Byron issued a standing order in 2004, allowing asbestos attorneys to set trial dates more than a year and a half in advance. Trial dates, as both plaintiffs' and defense attorneys know, prompt settlements - even in thin cases.

Average settlements approach $2.5 million -- a tidy sum for which plaintiffs' attorneys can thank Byron. The rest of us can thank him for helping to perpetuate our reputation as a hellhole.
Two-and-a-half mil per settlement? Cough, cough. Hello, Brown & Crouppen?



Tags: , ,

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 27, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation