Wood River mayor confirms layoffs at LakinChapman

Ann Maher Nov. 22, 2011, 6:19am



Wood River Mayor Fred Ufert has confirmed that the LakinChapman law firm has laid off employees.

Ufert said he was told it was a "significant" number in an interview with the Record on Tuesday.

Messages have been left with firm president Bradley Lakin and office manager Steve Schweitzer, as well as with several staff attorneys.

A reporter also spoke in person on Tuesday to an employee stationed at a reception desk who said that a statement regarding layoffs would not be released.

The Wood River-based firm suffered a big hit in September when the Illinois Supreme Court reversed a $43 million verdict it reached against Ford Motor Co. in 2005.

The case involved Dora Mae Jablonski, whose husband died when another motorist slammed into their stationary Lincoln Town Car, causing the fuel tank to explode. It was initially upheld at the appellate court last year.

But Justices unanimously overturned the judgment that Madison County Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian entered for Lakin client Jablonski.

Founding Father

Lakin Law Firm founder Tom Lakin started his practice in a small office in East St. Louis and built a high profile personal injury and class action firm in Wood River.

The firm was renamed in 2009 to LakinChapman, however, after the federal drug conviction of Tom Lakin in 2008.

Last month, Tom Lakin also admitted in Madison County court that he committed sexual abuse on a 15 year old boy, and he confirmed a plea agreement requiring him to register as a sex offender when he completes a prison sentence on cocaine distribution charges.

Lakin did not plead guilty, but he submitted a stipulation of facts similar to a guilty plea at a hearing on Oct. 25.

He accepted a six year sentence that will run concurrently with a six year sentence he currently serves at a federal prison in Texas.

He is set to be released from Fort Worth Federal Correctional Institution in Texas, a low security institution housing male offenders, on Nov. 30, 2012.

In January 2009, Brad Lakin announced the firm's new name and its partnership with retired appellate court judge – and former Madison County circuit judge - Charles Chapman.

Chapman, at age 69, died in May of this year.

The law firm indicated in 2009 that it had added an office in Chicago and was looking to expand its presence in the Southwest.

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