Lakin and Burke's 'civil' brawl settled in federal court

Steve Korris Jan. 31, 2008, 11:35pm



BENTON – Brad Lakin and former Lakin Law Firm member Richard Burke settled claims against each other at U.S. courthouse in Benton on Jan. 24.

Burke dropped a claim that Lakin owed him fees from class action settlements, and Lakin dropped a claim that Burke violated his contract with the firm.

U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan confirmed the settlement in a Jan. 28 order.

Reagan had set jury trial to begin May 12.

The settlement closes the final front in a contest that began when Lakin fired Burke and severed the Lakin firm's ties to the Chicago firm of Freed and Weiss.

Burke set up practice in St. Louis, in association with Freed and Weiss.

Lakin sued Freed and Weiss in Madison County, Freed and Weiss sued Lakin in Cook County, Burke sued Lakin in federal court, and Lakin countersued Burke.

Now they've called off the whole contest, having settled the Madison County and Cook County suits Jan. 11.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Phil Frazier changed the tone of the contest last fall, after trying to supervise Burke's deposition of Brad Lakin by telephone.

Two noisy minutes after the deposition began, Frazier cancelled it.

"It sounded like the Ambassador Hotel when Bobby Kennedy was shot," he told Lakin's attorney, John Renick, and Burke's attorney, Chet Pleban, at a hearing a few days later.

Frazier grabbed their attention by warning that both sides might wind up as losers in the contest for control of class action suits they filed together.

He said "other sharks swimming in the water" would bump them as incompetent.

Sick of their bickering, he sent Renick and Pleban to a side room for a few minutes with a request that they try not to kill each other.

He told them he would no longer listen to depositions on the phone because, "I want to be able to get my hands around throats."

He guaranteed dire consequences if anyone tried to hide anything from Judge Reagan.

Frazier set a settlement conference Jan. 24, and raised the pressure by setting a Jan. 25 deadline for Lakin to give Burke a report from a public relations consultant.

The consultant proposed strategies for shaping public opinion about a scandal involving Brad Lakin's father, Lakin Law Firm founder Tom Lakin.

A federal grand jury indicted Tom Lakin last year on morals charges.

Although Reagan confirmed the settlement between Brad Lakin and Burke, he did not dismiss the case.

He wrote that he would dismiss it June 2, absent any filing to the contrary.

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