Lakin class actions gather speed en route to certification

By Steve Korris | Jul 18, 2008

Tom Lakin While a federal court is waiting to try Tom Lakin on sex and drug crimes, a state court is giving rosy treatment to cases brought by the law firm he founded.

Tom Lakin

Judge Barbara Crowder

Judge Daniel Stack

While a federal court is waiting to try Tom Lakin on sex and drug crimes, a state court is giving rosy treatment to cases brought by the law firm he founded.

Madison County judges certified two Lakin Law Firm suits as class actions in two weeks, and a batch of Lakin suits are gathering speed on the path to class certification.

A year ago, with headlines blaring Tom Lakin's indictment on drug and morals charges, Lakin class actions met a chilly reception.

At the low point U.S. District Judge David Herndon, Tom Lakin's former law partner, denied certification of a Lakin suit against Integrated Health Plan, a Florida company that processes medical bills.

Class action defendants welcomed Herndon's decision as a turning point, but when they quote Herndon today no one listens.

On June 30, Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder certified a Lakin class action against Liberty Mutual Insurance.

The suit claims Liberty Mutual wrongfully reduced payments to health care providers in a preferred provider organization, or PPO.

The class includes all Illinois providers whose reimbursements Liberty Mutual reduced on workers compensation cases.

To represent the class, Crowder appointed chiropractors Thomas Kaltenbronn and Dale Fischer, Coy Chiropractic Health Center and Lebanon Chiropractic.

Now the Lakins urge Circuit Judge Daniel Stack to follow Crowder in certifying a class action that Coy Chiropractic Health Center
filed against Travelers Insurance.

Stack held a hearing on class certification April 30, but has not reached a decision.

On July 7, Jeff Millar of the Lakin firm sent Stack a copy of Crowder's order and wrote that the only difference between the cases was the defendants.

Stack also faces a decision in a suit the Lakins filed against Employers Mutual Insurance, on behalf of chiropractor Frank Bemis.

Stack set a class certification hearing June 18, but the Lakins called it off and moved for leave to amend their complaint.

Meanwhile, the Lakins keep dozens of chiropractor complaints on a back burner.

Such cases can endure for years, as the Lakins discovered July 7.

Stack certified a class action that the Lakins filed against Hartford Fire Insurance on behalf of Winnie Madison in 2000, at the
peak of Tom Lakin's power.

The suit claims Hartford Fire breached contracts by improperly reducing payouts on medical bills under policies of many Hartford Insurance subsidiaries.

The class Stack defined covers about 100,000 claims in 36 states over 18 years.

Stack favored class action because Hartford Fire "employed a systematic, automatic, and uniform process to handle medical payment claims."

Stack held a class certification hearing in 2003 and a supplemental hearing in 2006.

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