Forum battle in attorneys' war is for judge to figure out

Steve Korris Aug. 2, 2007, 12:48pm

Brad Lakin

Now that the Lakin Law Firm has sued Chicago attorneys in Madison County and Chicago attorneys have sued the Lakins in Cook County, somebody has to figure out who sued first.

Attorneys at Freed and Weiss, former teammates of the Lakins in class actions, moved July 13 to dismiss or stay a complaint the Lakins filed against them in Madison County.

Associate Judge Richard Tognarelli set a hearing Friday, Aug. 10.

Lakin had already moved to dismiss the Cook County case because of its similarity to the Madison County case.

For Freed and Weiss, Michael Nester of Belleville argues that Cook County has developed more facts than Madison County.

Nester admits the Lakins sued first but argues they later amended the complaint to mirror the Cook County suit.

In his motion to dismiss he wrote, "…the amended complaint is seeking to transfer to this court – in a less complete fashion – the same issues that have already been raised in the Cook County case."

He called it "an attempt to forum shop."

Nester wrote that the Cook County case involved attorney's fees Lakin collected but did not share with Freed and Weiss.

He wrote that it involved Lakin's failure to disclose to Freed and Weiss the initiation of civil, criminal and ethical investigations.

He wrote that it involved Lakin's failure to properly use resources Freed and Weiss provided.

He wrote that it involved Lakin's interference with Freed and Weiss client relationships.

He wrote that it involved "the assistance provided to Lakin by numerous individuals in connection with the above referenced wrongful actions."

He wrote that it involved slanderous statements.

Nester also objected to a Lakin allegation that Freed and Weiss covered up past discipline of partner Paul Weiss.

In 1997, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission suspended Weiss's license 30 days for harassing females.

Nester wrote that the documents were available on ARDC's website.

"Weiss disclosed these ARDC proceedings directly to Brad Lakin," he wrote.

The Lakins teamed with Freed and Weiss in 1999.

In January the Lakins filed a complaint for injunction in Madison County chancery court, seeking to recover backup tapes from Freed and Weiss.

Freed and Weiss then sued the Lakins in Cook County chancery court, seeking to dissolve the partnership.

In Madison County, Freed and Weiss moved to transfer the Lakin suit to Cook County as a more convenient forum. Tognarelli denied the motion.

In May, Freed and Weiss voluntarily delivered the backup tapes to the Lakins and declared that part of the suit moot.

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