A 2001 Madison County class action against United Life Insurance Co. has been granted preliminary settlement for $160,000.

Circuit Judge David Hylla ruled after a hearing Oct. 8.

After brief questioning by Hylla about the opt-out date on the settlement, the parties agreed to a Jan. 14, 2011 fairness hearing date.

That hearing is set to begin at 1 p.m. although Hylla warned it could be pushed off by a jury trial.

United Life Insurance will administer the settlement while attorneys for lead plaintiff Christopher Booher will take home up to 40 percent of it in fees.

Booher, a high school friend of Bradley Lakin, the managing partner of LakinChapman LLC in Wood River, takes home $2,500 as class representative.

Booher led a class of car purchasers who claim they were sold fraudulent credit insurance.

The settlement also finds former friends and current foes from LakinChapman and Freed & Weiss of Chicago agreeing to share credit for the settlement.

The two law firms had filed a number of class action suits in Madison County until dissolving their partnership in 2007.

The former colleagues have sparred several times over the proceeds from those suits in Madison County courtrooms.

The settlement approval hearing had been pushed off at different points this year.

It came as the result of mediation last year.

Booher has been the lead plaintiff in at least one other Madison County class action.

Robert Schmieder II represents Booher and the class.

Paul Weiss is named as assistant counsel for the class.

James Garrison represents United Life Insurance.

The class action was certified by then-Madison County Circuit Judge Philip Kardis.

Kardis certified a nationwide suit that eventually was whittled to an Illinois-only class.

Former Madison County Circuit Judge Don Weber had the case before Hylla.

Another defendant in the case, Four Flags Motors, was dropped from the suit.

The case is Madison case number 01-L-1824.

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