BENTON – Strong words from U.S. Magistrate Judge Philip Frazier have convinced Brad Lakin and his former class action teammates at Freed and Weiss in Chicago to halt their contest for control of class actions.
On Jan. 11 the Lakin Law Firm settled a Madison County suit against Freed and Weiss, and Freed and Weiss settled a Cook County suit against the Lakin firm.
The settlements followed Frazier's prediction that "other sharks swimming in the water" would bump both firms from class actions as incompetent counsel.
While two cases closed, a third, former Lakin lawyer Richard Burke's federal suit against Brad Lakin, will close at any minute if Frazier's persuasive powers hold up.
A settlement conference continued under Frazier's supervision on Thursday, Jan. 24.
Prior to the conference, Frazier gave Brad Lakin two big incentives to settle.
Frazier cancelled Burke's Jan. 23 deposition of Lakin, and he gave Lakin until 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, to deliver overdue documents to Burke.
In the documents a consultant proposed strategies for shaping public opinion about a scandal involving Brad Lakin's father, Lakin Law Firm founder Tom Lakin.
A federal grand jury indicted Tom Lakin last year on morals charges.
Frazier grabbed the attention of the lawyers last fall by predicting that other class action firms would bump them as incompetent counsel.
At a hearing he asked their attorneys, John Renick for Lakin and Chet Pleban for Burke, to try not to kill each other.
He told them he would no longer preside over depositions by telephone because, "I want to be able to get my hands around throats."
The hearing turned the tide, as accusation gave way to accommodation.
Burke joined the Lakin firm in 1998.
Starting in 1999, the Lakins teamed with Freed and Weiss in class actions.
The partnership between the firms ended in 2006.
Lakin fired Burke, who opened a St. Louis office in association with Freed and Weiss.
Last year the Lakins sued Freed and Weiss over fees in Madison County, and Freed and Weiss sued the Lakins over fees in Cook County.
Each firm asked its home court to invalidate the suit in the other court, but the Jan. 11 settlements relieve the courts of the need to solve that problem.
Burke's federal suit claims Lakin owes him fees from class action settlements.
In a counterclaim Lakin alleges that Burke breached his contract.
Lakin accuses Burke of trying to steal clients, while Burke accuses Lakin of putting his family's interests ahead of the interests of his clients.