Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder certified a Lakin Law Firm suit against Liberty Mutual Insurance as a class action June 30, but as the Lakins proceed they face a powerful new adversary.
Thomas Q. Keefe of Belleville, a top plaintiff lawyer, joined Liberty Mutual's defense team June 23.
Keefe will work alongside Randal Mullendore and Carol Rutter of Husch Blackwell Sanders in Clayton, Mo.
The Lakins sued Liberty Mutual in 2004, claiming it wrongfully reduced payments to health care providers in a preferred provider organization, or PPO.
"Plaintiff has presented information to support its claim that Liberty Mutual employed a systematic, automatic, and uniform process to take PPO discounts on medical bills relating to Illinois workers compensation claims," Crowder wrote.
She appointed two chiropractors, Thomas Kaltenbronn and Dale Fischer, as class representatives, along with Coy Chiropractic Health Center and Lebanon Chiropractic.
She appointed the Lakin firm and the firm of Campbell and McGrady as class counsel, with Lakin leading.
The class includes all Illinois providers whose reimbursements Liberty Mutual reduced on workers compensation cases.
Crowder set a case management conference Aug. 20.
In March, Keefe reached the pinnacle of plaintiff advocacy as expert witness in the trial of Magna Bank's legal malpractice suit against the Thompson Coburn firm.
In his testimony, Keefe explained the case so well that jurors excused Carr's delays and distractions and awarded the bank 33 percent of what Carr wanted.
Though Keefe stands out among plaintiff attorneys, he has not filed class action claims or signed up for class actions of other firms.