That's life

The Madison County Record Apr. 3, 2005, 3:07am

A Madison County court demands taxpayers fork over $100 grand in “damages” to his client because Granite City officially let her buy a house that had a leaky roof—- allegedly.

And lawyer Thomas Maag is trying to be cute in French.

“Se le vie,” he wrote in response to the order of Judge Andy Matoesian, which included $84,000 for Armettia Peach and $26,000 in legal fees for Maag himself.

Maag meant “c’est la vie” which translates to “that’s life” in the language of love. Embarrassing if you care about silly things like spelling, but nobody’s grading papers here.

What we are doing is assessing motives and drawing connections in a fishy real estate deal and even fishier lawsuit set to cost taxpayers a bundle.

Lawyer Maag is well-connected to the central character in this nauseating drama, plaintiff Ms. Peach, as well as the mysterious Chad Carpenter, the man who bought that house with the bad roof and gave it to Peach in the first place. That is, after she tried to pay for it with a stack of cash.

Peach and Carpenter are familiar names around the Madison County courthouse as they both are “named plaintiffs” in class action lawsuits concocted by Maag’s Lakin Law Firm. Same goes for Peach’s daughter, Ashley. She’s serving as a plaintiff to help Maag’s firm sue Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and Fashion Bug.

So why on earth would one Lakin “named plaintiff” buy a house for another Lakin “named plaintiff”?

Where did Armettia Peach—- filer of bankruptcy and writer of bad checks—- get $20,000 in hundreds?

Why did the court award Peach $100,000 plus in damages over a bad roof when the entire house itself isn’t worth $60,000?

What’s lawyer Thomas Maag’s real role in all of this?

They’re great questions with no clear answers. But we do know that Maag doesn’t like to handle small, $26,000-fee cases like Armettia’s. He told former Peach lawsuit target and home remodeler Kevin Link as much while demanding he fork over a cash settlement over the roof issue, or else.

“(Maag) told me it could drag out six years and the legal fees would add up,” said Link, who never even sold the house to Peach but spent $1,000 on legal fees defending his innocence.

It’s worth mentioning that in the same case, Maag told the court that his fees—- soon to be paid by Granite City taxpayers-- are twenty-six times that. But we digress.

This sad saga doesn’t include Fortune 500 companies or fleeing doctors, but it makes for a glaring example of how Madison County lawyers can stir up trouble just for the sake of it. And everybody pays.

Armettia Peach didn’t want a house. She wanted a lawsuit, and that’s what she got. Now she’s getting rich on our dime.

C’est la vie, we suppose, in Madison County.

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