Crowder orders depositions in Lakin legal malpractice claim

Steve Korris Sep. 24, 2007, 8:48am

Judge Crowder

Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder overlooked the obvious when she asked appellate judges if the Lakin Law Firm represented a woman, according to the woman's attorney.

George Ripplinger of Belleville, representing Suzanne Krause, asked Crowder on Sept. 13 to vacate an order she signed Aug. 23, certifying questions about the Lakins to the Fifth District in Mount Vernon.

Crowder's order found substantial ground for difference of opinion, but Ripplinger's motion yielded no ground for difference of opinion.

Ripplinger wrote that Lakin attorney Scott Meyer was actively involved day to day in Krause's personal injury claim.

As a minor by the name of Suzanne Topps, she suffered injuries when a tree limb fell on one of her legs in Tennessee.

According to Ripplinger, Meyer arranged photographs of her injuries at the Lakin firm and gave her mother information on the firm.

Ripplinger wrote that Meyer told mother and daughter how they should conduct themselves with respect to the case.

He wrote that Meyer flew them to Florida and put them up in a hotel for an extended period to photograph her injuries.

Meyer invited them to his home to show the injuries to other agents and attorneys of the Lakin firm and represented to all that the case was worth millions and everyone expressly concurred, Ripplinger wrote.

He wrote that Meyer represented by statements and actions that he would facilitate a beneficial resolution of the matter.

He wrote that Brad Lakin sent Krause a letter declining to sue and advising her that the statute of limitations would soon run out.

According to Ripplinger, the statute of limitations had already run out and Krause surrendered all remedies but a legal malpractice claim against Meyer and the Lakins.

Meyer no longer works for the Lakins. In this case he represents himself.

In June he filed a counterclaim against the Lakins, arguing that if the court found him liable he would qualify for contribution from them.

He resisted Krause's claim too, but he blundered.

He moved to strike a discovery request from Krause under a Supreme Court rule, but Crowder thought he deliberately misstated the rule.

Crowder expected to quiz Meyer about it at a Sept. 7 hearing, but Meyer did not show up.

Crowder denied his motion and ordered sanctions against him.

She told Ripplinger to have Krause submit an affidavit as to her counsel's time spent in responding to Meyer's motion and his hourly rate.

Crowder gave Meyer 21 days to respond to the discovery request.

She ordered him to provide dates for a deposition in the next 60 days and gave the Lakin firm, Tom Lakin and Brad Lakin 21 days to respond to discovery requests from Krause.

She told the Lakins to provide Ripplinger with dates for depositions to be taken in the next 60 days.

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