Lakins defendants in legal malpractice case

Steve Gonzalez Jul. 17, 2006, 11:19am

Attorneys' Scott Meyer, Thomas Lakin, Bradley Lakin and the Lakin Law Firm are defendants in Madison County's 600th civil lawsuit of 2006.

Alleging legal malpractice, Suzanne Krause claims the attorneys failed to timely file her personal injury suit.

Krause was severely injured while camping at Reelfoot State Park in Tennessee on July 6, 2002, when a dead tree limb 10-feet long and four- to six-inches in diameter fell 60 feet through her tent, piercing her leg.

According to the complaint, Meyer agreed to represent Krause on Sept. 6, 2002, and entered into an attorney client relationship.

Krause claims Meyer's representation was below standard. She claims he breached his duty to represent her in a responsible, competent and zealous fashion by failing to pursue her right to recover damages from Tennessee and anyone else liable for her injuries.

She also claims Thomas Lakin improperly advised her not to pursue a claim against Tennessee and that he did not properly investigate and evaluate a potential medical malpractice action.

Krause claims Brad Lakin sent her a letter on Oct. 11, 2004, that stated, "We believe it is not feasible to pursue a case on your behalf. After reviewing the information that we have we believe that the case would be extremely difficult to prove."

Krause claims shortly before the tree limb fell, the state of Tennessee had inspected trees in the campground and contracted with Tim's Tree Service, an independent contractor, to trim trees in the campground to ensure the safety of the campers using the facility.

She claims that on March 24, 2004, Tom Lakin agreed to represent her to investigate a potential legal malpractice claim against Meyer and a medical malpractice claim against the doctor who treated her.

"Tom Lakin actively solicited the plaintiff and her mother for his own benefit and on behalf and for the benefit of the firm to entice the plaintiff and her mother to retain the Lakin Firm," the complaint states.

Krause claims Lakin:

  • Flew her and her mother to Florida, put them in a hotel for an extended period of time to photograph her injuries and to discuss the case and the representation;

  • Sent a detailed memo to the firm regarding the handling of the matter;

  • Invited her and her mother to his home to display her injury to other agents and attorneys of the Lakin firm and represented that her case was worth millions of dollars;

  • Represented to her and her mother that he would facilitate a beneficial resolution to the matter; and

  • Provided extensive oral and written information on the firm and how the case would be handled and how she should conduct themselves with respect to the case.

    Krause claims Lakin's letter told her that she had two years from her 18th birthday to file a suit.

    In Tennessee, claimants have only one year after a minor's 18th birthday to file suit.

    She claims that non-attorney agents and employees of the Lakin firm encouraged her to retain and employ the firm and gave legal advice, and also such advice on behalf of the firm which was incorrect and negligent.

    "Based on advice of the defendant, Krause believed she had two years after her 18th birthday to prosecute any and all claims."

    On Jan. 31, 2005, Krause contacted her current lawyer Kevin McQuillan of Downers Grove, Ill., whose investigation to the potential medical malpractice action indicated that the wound was not properly treated resulting in serious personal injuries. She suffered a laceration and degloving of the left thigh with a 5 centimeter-wide by 10 centimeter-long piece of wood still lodged in the thigh.

    Krause claims she has suffered $35,000 in medical expenses, pain and suffering and has been prevented from performing her usual activities and will continue to suffer extreme emotional distress.

    She claims as a result of all the careless and negligent acts of the lawyers involved, she did not receive the Tennessee maximum of $1 million as well as additional sums for the medical malpractice claim.

    According to the lawsuit, in a memo to the firm Tom Lakin wrote, "The injury is very substantial. I have talked to Sid Gilreath, a major trial lawyer in Tennessee. I want to explore the possibility of outside state liability."

    It continued, "We need to take a very thorough medical history particularly as it relates to the Memphis physicians and hospitals. There may be a malpractice claim.

    "Finally, I want you to go into how this injury has affected her life and future as she sees it. She talked about becoming a marine biologist and this career is now out of the question.

    "I have taken photos of the injury in Miami, however, you may want to do some in the office."

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