Suspended attorney Carol Cagle wants half of a fee that the Lakin Law Firm collected from clients who fired her for taking too long to sue.

The Lakin firm argues that it cannot pay Cagle because attorneys in Illinois cannot share fees with lay persons.

Cagle says the firm must pay because she was an attorney when she filed the suit.

She represented Deven Chavours and Mary Lovett in a claim that Beelman Truck driver Thomas Schuler caused a 2002 traffic accident that injured them.

In 2003, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission investigated charges that a Cagle client left relevant information out of a bankruptcy petition.

The commission also investigated complaints that Cagle neglected cases and misrepresented the status of those cases when clients inquired.

The commission presented the charges to its hearing board.

In April 2004, with the two year statute of limitations running out on the accident, Cagle filed suit for Chavours and Lovett. So did Rodney Caffey of the Lakin firm.

According to Cagle, Chavours and Lovett told her a week after the filing of the suits that they hired Caffey, and one of them identified him as a cousin.

In May 2004, the attorney commission's hearing board recommended that the Illinois Supreme Court suspend Cagle for nine months. A review board agreed.

In Cagle's suit over the accident, nothing happened. In Caffey's suit, the parties settled last Sept. 8.

On Sept. 26, the Supreme Court suspended Cagle for nine months, effective Oct. 17.

A day after her suspension started, Caffey moved Madison County Circuit Judge George Moran to adjudicate her attorney's lien.

Caffey argued that while on suspension, Cagle was a lay person.

Cagle answered in November that she worked for Lovett and Chavours from May 19, 2002, to April 29, 2004.

She wrote that she filed suit before her discipline and she deserved half the fee.

Moran set a hearing Feb. 9, but he retired Feb. 8.

The fee dispute, along with the rest of Moran's cases, passed to Circuit Judge Lola Maddox. She set an April 27 hearing on the fee.

Cagle's suspension will end July 17.

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