Crowder to hear arguments in Household Financial class action settlement

By Amelia Flood | Mar 17, 2010


Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder will hear arguments in favor of the settlement of a long-running mortgage interest fee class action.

The hearing in a suit brought by lead plaintiffs Paul and Ladonna Wratchford against Household Financial Services, Inc. is set for 9 a.m. Thursday. The hearing had been set late last year but was rescheduled by agreement of the parties.

The 2003 case is one of several class action suits filed in Madison County against mortgage lenders over fees that were charged to borrowers.

The cases were filed by then partner-law firms, the Lakin Law Firm of Wood River and Freed & Weiss of Chicago.

The partnership ended three years ago. Spats between the two firms have continued as they have vied for their shares of fees generated by the suits.

The hearing tomorrow could become one of those debates. Richard Burke, a former member of the Lakin firm, entered his appearance in the suit in December 2009. Since his departure from the Lakin firm, Burke has partnered with Freed & Weiss in numerous class actions.

The Wratchfords allege that Household Financial charged them improper per diem interest fees on their 2000 mortgage.

The Wratchfords' suit alleges claims of unjust enrichment and breach of contract.

The case has already gone through at least three Madison County judges. Originally assigned to Madison County Circuit Judge Phillip Kardis, it then went to Circuit Judge Don Weber before it was then sent at the request of the parties, to Circuit Judge Lola Maddox.

Crowder took over the case in 2008.

The class is represented by Paul Marks of LakinChapman LLC, the new Lakin firm. Marks took over the case from former Lakin member and convicted felon Gary Peel.

The defendant is represented by William Lucco and Debra Zahalsky of St. Louis.

The case is Madison case number 03-L-541.

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