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STOP trial lawyer's political stunt

Madison County Record

Thursday, October 15, 2020  |  Article  |  By The Madison County Record

Candidates--Judicial (27b)

Justice David Overstreet called "robotext" legal action taken against his campaign six weeks before the General Election in plaintiff-friendly, Democrat-controlled St. Clair County Circuit Court "nothing more than Judy Cates using the legal system as her personal playground.” We could not agree more.

Not only can plaintiffs get what they want in St. Clair County, they can get it in an instant. On the same day St. Louis lawyer John Driscoll sued the Illinois Supreme Court candidate on behalf of plaintiff Jacqueline Racener of Belleville, Associate Judge Jeffrey Watson (assigned by Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson) granted a temporary restraining order against Overstreet, without notice to him.

Republican Overstreet faces Fifth District Appellate Court colleague, Democrat Cates, for the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier. Their campaigns had been relatively civil until this flagrant political stunt disguised as a legit consumer action.

In his Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) case against Overstreet, Driscoll writes that 81-year-old Racener is on a fixed-income and did not authorize the use of her data upon receiving five campaign-related text messages from the Overstreet campaign.

"...She found the unwanted flurry (of) messages and pictures to be alarming and disturbing, in part, because she had no idea who Judge David Overstreet was or how he-or those working on his behalf-acquired her mobile telephone number to begin with."

Color us skeptical that she had no idea who Overstreet was, as Racener, a former legal assistant, has Facebook friends that include prominent class action lawyers such as David Cates of Cates Mahoney (son of the candidate) and Robert King, partner at Korein Tillery. Racener also is FB friends with the Democrat candidate herself - Judy Cates!

Rather than ignoring or replying STOP to the Overstreet messages sent on Sept. 25 and opened on Sept. 27, Racener sought the assistance of Driscoll - a top contributor to Cates. Driscoll donated $11,600 to Cates’s campaign in January, and another $10,000 in August. During the first half of this year, he also spent $400 a month to provide her with a car.

It's worth mentioning that having covered TCPA litigation at Legal Newsline, we've learned the game - that many "professional plaintiffs" avoid replying STOP on the chance it works and the sender stops sending, because it could hurt future claims. True professionals prefer the low-risk $500 per violation for not replying STOP, rather than going for the prize of $1,500 per violation if texts and calls continue after STOP.

And finally, it's also important to note that TCPA lawsuits proceed in federal court - where Overstreet recently removed Driscoll's action. Unsurprisingly, Driscoll immediately sought to remand it to the friendly confines of St. Clair County. Let's hope the case stays where it is and STOPS.