A legal malpractice trial in Edwardsville, Illnois courtroom has reopened old wounds about the area's most notorious swindler James Gibson "who stole millions from children and widows by making off with their structured settlement funds".
In the case plaintiff's attorney Rex Carr is trying to convince the jury to take pity on another victim in the "debacle," his client, Magna Bank ( which is now Regions Bank).
According to The St. Clair Post, Carr opened the trial with "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, yesterday when you took your oaths, you became part of a Judicial Hellhole" and proceeded to tell the assembled members, including two alternates, that all of the judges, attorneys and juries in Madison County are corrupt.
Two months ago the American Tort Reform Association, removed St. Clair and Madison from the 2007 "Judicial Hell Hole" county list because of various local reforms.
The Gibson scandal, which hit in the terrible time period which followed the Executive Life of CA debacle of 1991, involved structured settlements using government bonds through a contractual arrangement between GIbson's company SBU and Magna. In 1993, Gibson told Magna Bank that pursuant to contract, he would terminate the agreement and take the money elsewhere. Magna Bank refused to release the funds, so Gibson sued the bank. St. Clair County, Illinois Circuit Judge Robert Hillebrand ruled that the agreement allowed termination and granted summary judgment to SBU. Magna appealed to the Fifth District, but the summary judgment was affirmed. After several more years of litigation, Magna gave possession of the government bonds to Flag Financial, a shell corporation Gibson owned in Missouri.
In the legal malpractice case plaintiffs claim that based on the advice of defendant Thompson Coburn, Magna did not file an appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court because the law firm allegedly advised the bank that it had no grounds to resist SBU's termination of Magna's trusteeship and joined in a stipulation with SBU by appointing Flag Finance as the successor trustee which allowed Gibson to have possession of the bonds.
Gibson eventually stole the money and purchased personal items like homes, cars and yachts. Magna was eventually sued by victims of Gibson's flim flam, who alleged the bank breached its fiduciary obligations to the injured tort victims.
The defense argued that in this legal malpractice case, the plaintiff is a banking conglomerate and not the tort victims, with the cause being the single event of James Gibson stealing money. The defense alleges the bank paid "too much" in settlements (to tort victims of the Gibson swindle), and this legal malpractice suit, filed in 2004, was "manufactured" to recoup losses after settling litigation.
Should be interesting.