Lawyer taking on Starbucks not registered with state

Legal News Line Mar. 5, 2007, 1:45am

A parking lot slip-and-fall outside a Starbucks establishment is the cause of a recent personal injury action brought against the corporation. The plaintiff is represented by Lawrence P. Maya of Chicago's Deer & Stone, P.C. According to the state's disciplinary commission, Maya has not registered with the IARDC for 2007, and as such is not licensed to practice law in Illinois. Nevertheless, Maya signed and filed the Starbucks suit on Feb. 2 on behalf of Rosie Xiaaj. According to the complaint, Xiaaj was walking to her parked vehicle from a Starbucks in Lombard, Ill., when she slipped and fell on an "unnatural accumulation" of ice, water, "and/or snow." The slip caused Xiaaj to fall "with great force and violence upon the ground," leading to severe and permanent injuries. The alleged accident occurred on Feb. 4, 2005. Xiaaj seeks in excess of $50,000 from each of three named defendants: Starbucks Corporation, Starbucks Property Management, and West Suburban Bank (as a trustee of the Lombard property). According to the complaint, all defendants were negligent in that they permitted unnatural and excessive accumulations of ice and/or snow in the Starbucks parking lot. Further, they permitted the parking lot to remain in a state of disrepair through the presence of "deviations, ruts, depressions, cracks and fissures." The defendants allegedly were negligent, then, in failing to warn the plaintiff and other invitees of the area's dangerous condition. Lawrence Maya appears to be handling the suit with Jeffrey W. Deer, whose name also appears on the court records. Deer is currently active on the ARDC rolls and licensed to practice in Illinois. The Deer & Stone firm does not currently maintain a web site. Maya was featured in a Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article in April 2006 on web sites that allow personal-injury lawyers to hand-pick clients from a pool of individuals with potential cases. According to the article ("Lawyers Spin Electronic Web to Wrap Up Clients", April 22, 2006), Maya was accepting three-to-five new cases a month from, a site through which lawyers pay hefty membership fees for access to a wealth of hopeful personal-injury plaintiffs. "The good thing about the site," Maya said in the article, "is it gives you access to everything in the categories that the subscriber signed up for, so you can pick and choose what you want." Maya did not disclose how much he pays for the service. LegalFish and LegalMatch both offer similar services, in which potential plaintiffs and attorneys alike can post their information online and seek each other out. The cases run the gamut from personal injury to criminal law, family law, business, and real estate. Starbucks has not filed an answer to the Xiaaj complaint yet, and the case is currently awaiting assignment to a judge.

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