A cow and a legendary plaintiff's firm are in the crosshairs of a legal malpractice trial currently under way in Madison County.

Plaintiff William Coates claims the Lakin Law Firm of Wood River failed to timely file a lawsuit against the owner of a cow believed to be responsible for the auto accident death of Michael Coates in 1994 in Greene County.

Juror selection began Monday. Opening arguments are expected to begin Wednesday morning.

The original lawyer who filed Coates' complaint in April 2002, Gary Peel, now works for the Lakin Law Firm.

Coates claims he hired the defendants in April 1996 to pursue a lawsuit, but the Lakin Law Firm and its attorney Lee Barron, breached their duty to perform legal services in a competent, timely and non-negligent manner.

Coates first learned of the alleged negligent act when he met with Craig Jensen of the Lakin Law Firm in March 2001 and was told, “We messed up and you’ve got every right to sue the Lakin Law Firm,” he claims.

According to the complaint, Coates alleges he lost his rights to pursue a case against the owner of the cow, all to his damage in a sum in excess of $50,000.

Now that Peel is working for the Lakin firm, William Bosslet is representing Coates.

Circuit Judge Daniel Stack is presiding over the case.

Barron now runs a solo practice in Alton. He once played professional soccer for the Cleveland Cobras.

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