A new day

The Madison County Record Feb. 20, 2005, 5:00pm

Thinking of you?

Poster boy

Here they come..

Driving force

The word from our nation's capitol: White House eyes were trained on the Madison and St. Clair County courthouses late last week.

Sources tell Dicta that President George W. Bush pushed to immediately sign and thus enact the Class Action Fairness Act after learning of the sudden torrent of class action filings in Madison and St. Clair Counties.

The act passed the U.S. House last Thursday afternoon, and Bush signed it into law on Friday morning.

Last Monday through Thursday, an Illinois record twenty class actions were filed in Madison County and another ten in St. Clair County.

Bush visited Collinsville last month and ever since, he’s taken a special interest in our local courts, citing them repeatedly in his stump speeches touting tort reform.

Head of the Class

If there were a class action poster, the Wood River lawyer Bradley Lakin would be on it, signing a complaint.

With the clock ticking, the Lakin Law Firm had its word processors humming, furiously cutting and pasting to get their best lawsuit ideas on paper and out the door before the Class Action Fairness Act took effect.

Including twenty last week, Lakin has filed 153 class action lawsuits in Madison County since 2002.

That includes 23 in 2004, 72 in 2003, and 38 in 2002.

No firm has filed more, crowning Lakin the class action champs of the class action capital of the U.S.

We offer congratulations… to Lakin’s paper supplier. Retirement on the beach must be near.

Friendly Feds?

Destined to take their act to federal court, class action-happy Metro-East plaintiff’s attorneys aren’t exactly shaking in their Bruno Magli lace-ups, according to one veteran Madison County court observer.

He told Dicta that the lawyers like their chances in a U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois led by “understanding” judges.

At the top of that list, we bet, is outspoken Chief Judge G. Patrick Murphy, who before his appointment by President Bill Clinton to the bench in 1998 was a prolific class action lawyer himself.

In 1997, Judge Murphy filed a now famous class action lawsuit against State Farm insurance, one of Illinois’ largest employers, for repairing wrecked cars with “replacement” auto parts.

Seven years later, that case (Avery v. State Farm) is still pending before the Illinois Supreme Court. If State Farm loses, it is on the hook for more than $1 billion.

No word as to whether Murphy, who once had Judge Gordon Maag's son, Thomas, as a law clerk, still stands to collect fees in the case.

Also on Southern Illinois’ federal bench: Judge David Herndon, who worked for the Lakin Law Firm before his appointment by President Clinton, and Judge Michael Reagan, past president of the hyper-partisan Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.

But before the trial bar gets giddy with glee, take note that Republican presidents appointed the Southern District’s three most veteran judges.

President George Herbert Walker Bush named Judge J. Philip Gilbert to the federal court, while Judges James L. Foreman and William Stiehl were appointed by Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, respectively.

Stiehl, appointed in 1986, is even married to a former State Rep. Celeste M. Stiehl (R-Belleville). She was the first woman ever appointed to a leadership position in the Illinois House of Representatives.

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Organizations in this Story

Illinois Trial Lawyers Association
401 W Edwards St
Springfield, IL 62704

Illinois House of Representatives
301 S 2nd Street
Springfield, IL 62707

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