Lakins want Unsell's malicious prosecution suit dismissed

Steve Gonzalez Nov. 14, 2008, 5:15am


Brad Lakin


A lawyer for Brad Lakin, The Lakin Law Firm and Kristopher Lakin has asked a judge to dismiss a malicious prosecution suit filed against them by East Alton attorney Edward Unsell.

Unsell sued in February alleging that a $50 million countersuit the Lakins filed against him and four of his clients in 2006 was baseless.

The Lakins argue Unsell's suit should be dismissed because courts look at such cases with disfavor and also because the complaint fails to plead a special injury. They are represented by Charles Chapman, of counsel with Lakins' Wood River firm.

Lakins' countersuit, which was eventually dismissed by Madison County Circuit Court Daniel Stack, came after Unsell sued Tom Lakin, Brad Lakin, Kristopher Lakin and the firm on behalf of his clients on April 21, 2006. That suit, which alleges Tom Lakin sexually abused two minor boys and his children, and alleges that Brad and Kristopher Lakin attempted to conceal evidence of abuse, is still pending in Madison County.

According to Chapman, Illinois courts have held for more than a century that a special injury must be pleaded in order to state a cause of action for malicious prosecution.

Chapman argues the only allegation that bears resemblance to special injury recognized by Illinois courts is a sub paragraph in Unsell's suit which alleges a personal crusade of harassement.

But, Chapman says, those allegations deal with Tom Lakin, who is not a party to the lawsuit.

"For over 110 years Illinois law has disfavored malicious prosecution claims," Chapman wrote. "For more than 110 years Illinois law has required plaintiffs to plead a special injury.

"Plaintiffs have not, and cannot, plead a special injury. Therefore, the complaint should be dismissed with prejudice."

Tom Lakin was indicted by a federal grand jury in April 2007, on charges that are similar to allegations set forth in Unsell's original suit. Lakin, who reached a plea deal with prosecutors in which he admitted to drug charges in exchange for the dismissal of sex charges, is serving six years in a federal prison camp.

Shortly after Unsell filed suit on behalf of his clients -- a case which was stayed until the resolution of Tom Lakin's federal charges -- Brad and Kristopher Lakin countersued alleging they were victims of a $50 million extortion scheme.

Represented by Rex Carr, the Lakins alleged Unsell and his clients began a conspiracy sometime in 2005 to maliciously prosecute a civil action containing multiple counts against them in order to extort large sums of money from them.

The Lakins alleged Unsell's original suit against Tom Lakin was merely an attempt to leverage a large cash settlement.

Stack dismissed the countersuit on Aug. 16, 2006, ruling the allegations in the countersuit could not be proven. Stack's ruling was affirmed in a Rule 23 order by the Fifth District Appellate Court on Sept. 11, 2007.

In Unsell's malicious prosecution suit he alleges that the Lakins' countersuit was filed without probable cause or legal justification and that the Lakins knew his clients were victims of childhood sexual assault and therefore had a legal basis for pursuing their claims.

Unsell and his clients are represented by Belleville attorney Tom Keefe, who also represents the minors in the civil suit against Tom Lakin. Keefe also represented Unsell in the countersuit.

Unsell claims the countersuit was filed to intimidate his clients and prevent them from pursuing their legal rights and remedies, to protect the Lakin Law Firm's abilities to draw clients and make a profit and to harass the minor victims and their parents by filing multiple lawsuits designed to force them to spend money on legal counsel.

He also claims the countersuit was filed against him in order to cause a financial hardship since he would have to retain legal counsel to defend himself in the suit.

Unsell claims his clients suffered injuries because the minor children had their names disclosed by the Lakins which has caused them to suffer scorn, ridicule and embarrassment.

Stack has yet to set a hearing date on the Lakins' motion to dismiss.

Unsell and his clients are seeking compensatory damages in excess of $150,000 and punitive damages in excess of $150,000.

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