The headline proclaims, “Lawyer Behind MH370 Filings Facing Sanctions” on the October 15, 2015 edition of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. The story goes on to report that Monica Kelly is facing a 60 day suspension of her license to practice law due to her frivolous filing in the Malaysia Airlines disaster.
Over a year ago, Monica Kelly’s Rule 224 Petition was dismissed by Judge Kathy Flanagan within days of Kelly’s filing. In Illinois, a Rule 224 Petition provides a mechanism to obtain discovery when an injured party can’t determine the identity of potential defendants. However, Judge Flanagan was quick to dismiss Kelly’s filing because Boeing and Malaysia Airlines were readily identifiable, and any other defendants could be determined by filing a traditional lawsuit and proceeding with discovery in the ordinary course. Many of us regard these early filings as ploys by the plaintiffs’ bar to get free publicity and attract additional clients. These seedy motives appeared hard to ignore given that Kelly filed her 224 Petition less than three weeks after Flight 370 went missing, and long before any debris or reliable information about the flight was known.
Apparently, Kelly is appealing her suspension. However, regardless of whether or not the suspension is upheld, the harsh treatment that she received from Judge Flanagan and the Attorney Disciplinary Commission should put an end to the use of 224 Petitions as marketing tools.
No doubt, Cook County will continue to be a popular venue for foreign plane crash litigation. These cases will have to get by without the boost of premature 224 Petitions.