Brad Lakin didn't know that a federal judge in Oklahoma entered default judgment of about $4 million against his firm until he read about it in a newspaper, according to Gail Renshaw of the Lakin firm.
Renshaw moved June 6 to stay collection proceedings on the Oklahoma judgment in U.S. District Court at East St. Louis.
In April the Oklahoma court awarded $3,752,601.80 to former Lakin client Stephen Williams.
Williams claimed that James Gibson, an investor the Lakins recommended, stole most of the proceeds of his injury settlement.
On May 29, Williams asked the court in East St. Louis to examine Brad Lakin about his assets on an expedited basis.
According to Renshaw, Lakin read about the judgment May 30.
She did not identify the source, writing that he read it in "a local Southern Illinois newspaper."
The Madison County Record reported the judgment on its website that day.
Renshaw wrote in her motion that the firm would move in Oklahoma to vacate the judgment.
She argued that the firm believed its insurer was taking steps to respond to the suit.
Two days later attorney Greg Wright of Overland Park, Kan. opposed a stay on behalf of Williams.
Wright argued that the firm had not filed a motion to vacate the judgment and that its arguments were hearsay.
He wrote that although Renshaw referred to an affidavit of Brad Lakin, she attached no affidavit to the motion.
He wrote that, "...at best, defendant's arguments demonstrate inexcusable neglect."
On June 25 Renshaw notified the court in East St. Louis that attorney John Tucker of Tulsa moved to vacate the judgment in Oklahoma.
She argued that the firm committed "at most excusable neglect."
She attached Tucker's motion declaring that, "Defendants were stunned that plaintiff chose not to contact them in any way about the motion for a default, the evidentiary hearing regarding damages or the entry of default judgment."
With his motion Tucker submitted a copy of a 1991 agreement between Williams and the Lakin firm.
Former Lakin partner David Herndon signed the agreement. He now serves as U.S. district judge in East St. Louis.