Millar sues Lakin and firm for $500k, plus punitives

Ann Knef Feb. 5, 2009, 9:17am



Former Lakin Law Firm attorney Jeffrey Millar of St. Louis is suing his old boss for unpaid salary, class action fees and punitive damages in excess of $500,000.

He claims Brad Lakin and his law firm breached contract by failing to provide 90 days written notice of his termination prior to Dec. 31, as required by an employment agreement, according to a suit filed in the Southern District of Illinois Feb. 4.

Millar was terminated from the Lakin Law Firm, renamed LakinChapman, on Dec. 29.

He alleges the defendants falsely accused him of excessive absenteeism and faltering work performance so that it could "use these claims as a pretextural excuse to terminate Millar" and avoid increased costs of medical coverage for him and his son.

According to Millar, his son has an "extremely rare metabolic condition" that requires treatment six times a day with expensive medication in a required form only produced in Switzerland.

"Without this medication, Millar's son would suffer from neurological impairment, brain damage and possibly even death," Millar states.

"Millar's son's condition is so rare that Millar had to obtain approval through the FDA to import the medication for his son's condition."

He claims the firm switched group health insurance from Aetna in November 2007, which it had for more than 10 years, to United HealthCare, "knowing that this change would adversely affect certain firm employees and their dependents, who had higher than average health care needs and costs because the United HealthCare plan offered reduced coverage."

After Millar threatened to sue the insurer, UnitedHealthcare began to cover his son in February 2008 at "considerable additional expense to the group health plan."

Millar claims that on Dec. 30, the Lakin firm terminated four additional employees of the firm without cause or justification.

"Upon information and belief, these employees were also discharged for exercising their rights under the provisions of Defendants' group health plan," the complaint states.

Since he did not receive proper termination notice, Millar claims the terms of his employment agreement remain in full force through 2009, entitling him to $126,465 in salary and fees generated in class action cases.

In the suit, Millar claims that the Lakin firm earned or will earn at least $3.6 million in fees in 2008 and the first quarter of 2009 in the following cases in which he helped litigate:

  • Fischer v. TIG, $90,059 fee;

  • Eavenson v. Selective, $78,446 fee;

  • Snyder v. Sprint, $211,282 fee;

  • Nationwide, $2,082,825 fee;

  • Shipley v. Travelers, $25,000 estimated fee;

  • Coy v. Crawford, $25,000 estimated fee;

  • Evans v. American Bankers, $10,000 estimated fee;

  • Fischer v. Royal, $354,740 estimated fee; and

  • Bemis v. Auto-Owners, $731,760 estimated fee.

    He claims he received 1 percent of fees in the TIG, Selective, Sprint and Nationwide cases, but has not been fully compensated.

    Millar is represented by Lynette Petruska of Pleban & Associates in St. Louis.

  • More News