Lakin firm files counter claim against Burke

Steve Gonzalez Apr. 16, 2007, 5:00am

The Lakin Law Firm has filed a counter claim against attorney Richard Burke alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and tortious interference with business expectancies.

The firm claims Burke was bound and obligated by the nature of his position to carry out his responsibilities and exercise discretion reasonably, with proper motive, and in a manner consistent with the reasonable expectations of the firm and its managing attorney, Brad Lakin.

The Lakin firm claims Burke breached the terms of his employment agreement and his duty of good faith and fair dealing, on and after May 12, 2006.

The suit claims Burke attempted to convince employees of the firm to leave their jobs and to join another law firm or start a new law firm with him, attempted to convince employees to try to steer existing clients like class action representatives, to him and/or his new firm or a firm with which he sought to become associated.

The Lakin firm also claims Burke tried to take advantage of his position and contacts with the Freed & Weiss firm in Chicago in an attempt to destroy the Lakin firm's right to receive the benefit of his employment agreement and falsely accused Brad Lakin of acting in a manner which was contrary to the interest of his firm.

The firm further alleges that Burke:

  • directed class action settlement funds, despite prior instructions, away from the Lakin firm and to Freed & Weiss;
  • failed to diligently carry out his duties and devote his full efforts and attention to supervising the prosecution and settlement of class action cases on behalf of the firm;
  • failed to regularly report case status and progress, and discuss case strategy, particularly involving potential settlement of a case, with Brad Lakin;
  • acted in concert with members of Freed & Weiss in furtherance of that firm's interests and against the best interests of the firm;
  • failed to adequately supervise and direct the work of Class Action Department paralegals;
  • failed to motivate and evaluate assigned staff; and
  • failed to report case status' and overall departmental functions to Brad Lakin.

    The firm claims Burke's actions were made knowingly, willfully, and maliciously with the intention to cause harm to the Lakin Law Firm.

    According to the complaint, as supervising attorney for Lakin's Class Action Department, Burke had significant managerial and supervisory responsibilities for the operation of the Class Action Department.

    The firm claims Burke breached his fiduciary duty to the firm by actively exploiting his position as supervising attorney for his own personal benefit and by hindering the ability of the firm to continue its representation of class action clients on or after May 12, 2006.

    According to the firm, Burke planned and took steps to set up a competing law firm, acted in concert with members of Freed & Weiss to set up a competing law firm and steer Lakin clients to that law firm and actively commenced competition with the Lakin firm while still employed by the Lakin firm.

    The Lakin firm seeks a judgment against Burke for economic, compensatory, and punitive damages in an amount to be determined at the trial but in excess of $75,000.

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