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Monson requests new judge

Published: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 9:19 p.m. CDT

MORRIS – Former Veteran’s Assistance Commission Superintendent Elton Monson wants a new judge to hear the wrongful termination lawsuit he filed against several parties, including all three Grundy County judges.

Will County Judge Thomas Carney was appointed to the case as all Grundy County judges were named in the lawsuit, but he recused himself from the case Friday at the request of Monson, due to Carney’s previous employment with a law firm representing the defendants.

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of suits filed by Monson, who served as VAC superintendent from 1999 to 2011 when the commission, later supported by the Grundy County Board, terminated him and two other employees – Kathleen Doran and Phyllis Doran.

This lawsuit, filed Dec. 12 by Monson and Kathleen Doran, was brought against multiple other parties for wrongful termination. Kathleen Doran also filed on behalf of Phyllis Doran, who has since died.

Monson and Doran are representing themselves and are asking for lost wages, benefits and reimbursements of $247,884.49. In addition, they are asking for $100 million in punitive damages.

The case had trouble getting started after confusion about where the case would be heard – Will County Courthouse or Grundy County Courthouse – and issues with case materials being submitted to the proper judge.

It seems the case will be delayed again now that Carney will be replaced after presiding over the first two court hearings.

“Judge Carney was acceptable, and we did not have an issue with him,” attorney for the county Michael Mattingly said Tuesday.

Monson could not be reached Tuesday, and Kathleen Doran declined to comment.

Carney made his potential conflict of interest known to all parties during a previous hearing, disclosing that he previously worked with lawyers at Rathbun, Cservenyak & Kozol – the law firm representing several defendants in the case – before he became a judge, and has since received case referral fees from the firm.

Carney added he has presided in numerous cases where Rathbun, Cservenyak & Kozol was involved, ruling both in favor and against the firm.

The judge told the plaintiffs and defense previously they could ask for a new judge if either party believed he had a conflict of interest. Monson and Doran decided Friday to do so.

Defendant in the suit are the Morris American Legion, Grundy County Marine Corps League, Disabled American Veterans, Morris VFW, Coal City American Legion, Minooka American Legion, current VAC Superintendent Ken Buck, the VAC, VAC Chairman Harion Enervold, the Kendall County VAC, the Illinois Association of VACs and Judges Robert Marsaglia, Sheldon Sobol and Lance Peterson.

A representative from the Attorney General’s office is representing the Grundy judges; Rathbun, Cservenyak & Kozol firm is representing all the other parties except the county; Mattingly was appointed as a special assistant state’s attorney to represent Grundy County due to a conflict of interest between the Grundy State’s Attorney’s Office and Monson.

It appears the Will County Judge of the 12th Judicial Circuit will have to appoint a new judge to the case, Mattingly said.

The next status hearing will be at 9:30 a.m. July 7.

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