Upon announcing his new and improved law firm, LakinChapman, to the Metro-East folks earlier this year, never-bashful plaintiff's lawyer Brad Lakin expressed some "higher" ambitions for his practice.
So color us surprised to catch one of his foot soldiers in court, using the new LakinChapman brand to help the notorious Brian Wendler settle a petty personal score.
We had hoped for more and it appears to be more of less.
The issue: The unknown person who posted an accurate news article describing Wendler's 2005 domestic battery charge on a Teamsters' web site message board which was accompanied by the comment: "Don't make the same mistake me and my husband did - it's a waste of time and money."
To refresh memories, Wendler often had represented Teamsters members in lawsuits against the Cassens companies.
Wendler claims the mystery poster was an employee of AIG, the Cassens' insurer. The Teamsters' webmaster said so in a deposition.
AIG doesn't agree. Its lawyer adds that even if AIG did, the posting was true and also a statement of opinion, thus doubly protected by the First Amendment.
Beyond what the U.S. Constitution says, this legal hissy-fit has gone on four years too long. Wendler is relentless and now with LakinChapman's help, he wants more depositions of more AIG employees and he wants to see more records. For now, our federal court is letting him.
Wrapped in a bow of legal obfuscation, the case represents so much of what can go wrong with our civil justice system.
Take a step back from this legal paper war, and consider how it all started with Mr. Wendler pitching his lawsuit-filing skills to members of the Teamsters' union.
Then consider what Judge Dan Stack said in 2006 about Wendler's tactics in these Teamster cases, as he ruled in a suit filed against five Cassens family members on behalf of a Tennessee truck driver.
"I don't know why he continues to file these against these people. It seems clear to me that these people don't belong in these lawsuits," Stack complained.
"He is wasting his time and he is wasting the time of his people. He is not seeing the forest for the trees."
The court needs to rescue Wendler from the dark forest and aim him towards the light.