Armettia Peach’s $104,259.17 court judgment against Granite City--which is accused of approving an occupancy permit at 9 Briarcliff Dr. without inspecting the property--hangs in suspense.
At an April 15 hearing before Madison County Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian, attorneys for Peach and the city agreed to continue the case.
Matoesian granted default judgment last July to Peach, who also has a pending Madison County class action lawsuit against CIM Insurance
Her complaint against Granite City states that the home had a leaky roof and damaged timbers, walls and insulation.
Armettia Peach's attorney, Thomas Maag of the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River, moved last June for default judgment because Granite City made no appearance before the court.
The Lakin Law Firm also represents Armettia and her daughter, Ashley Peach, in their combined four class action lawsuits. Ashley Peach is suing Fashion Bug, Wal-Mart and KMart. (See related story).
Armettia Peach originally aimed her lawsuit at Kevin Link of Granite City. He bought the house for $10,000, repaired it and sold it for $68,900. Courthouse property records show that he did not sell it to Peach. He sold it to Chad Carpenter, who signed it over to Peach seven months later on a quit claim deed.
Before Link was dropped from the suit, he attempted to reason with Maag, but said he had to spend $1,000 to defend himself in a meritless case.
"I thought if he was honest and sincere about truth and justice, he would understand that this suit was totally out of bounds,” Link said.
“If he was dishonest, at least he would check it out and drop it. I guess I was kind of naïve," he said.
"It didn’t matter to him if I was innocent or guilty.”
According to Link, Maag told him he would not drop the suit because that was how he made his living.
“I asked him if there wasn’t maybe a better way to make a living," Link said.
Maag offered to settle.
“He talked to me like he was my friend,” Link said. “He told me it could drag out six years and the legal fees would add up.”
An attorney who writes about legal issues for the site, "overlawyered.com," said if Peach's complaint does not contain false statements, then ethics rules were probably not broken.
"But the ethical scandal isn't what's illegal; the real ethical scandal is what the ethics rules permit attorneys to do," said Ted Frank, an attorney with O'Melveny & Myers.
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