State Farm seeks to prove it has no duty to defend Tom Lakin in civil sexual abuse suit

By The Madison County Record | Mar 19, 2014

Eight years after prosecutors dug into crimes at the home of Madison County lawyer Tom Lakin, State Farm Fire and Casualty finds it must do the same.

State Farm plans to rebuild the criminal case in order to prove it owes no duty to defend Lakin in a civil suit alleging he and son Kristopher abused minors.

State police delivered two boxes of Lakin files to State Farm this year, after St. Clair County Associate Judge Randall Kelley signed a confidentiality order.

State Farm counsel Daniel Hasenstab of Belleville wrote in February that the boxes contained written reports, notes, audio recordings, and dozens of video statements.

Hasenstab indicated he didn’t receive two additional boxes from the Lakins.

On March 6, he moved to compel their production of statements or testimony by any adult or minor plaintiff in the civil case, and statements of other witnesses.

He wrote that in suing State Farm for coverage, the Lakins placed the factual basis for the civil abuse suit at issue.

“Statements of parties and other witnesses to plaintiffs’ alleged misconduct are directly relevant to State Farm’s coverage duties,” he wrote.

As of March 17, Kelley had not ruled on the motion.

For years Lakin led the biggest law firm in Madison County.

In 2006, Alton lawyer Ed Unsell sued him in Madison County on behalf of John and Jane Doe, parents, and their children.

A Madison County judge transferred the case to St. Clair County.

Federal prosecutors then indicted Lakin for sex and drug crimes.

In 2008, he agreed to plead guilty of drug crimes and serve six years.

Last year, as Lakin’s sentence ran down, Unsell amended the Doe family’s complaint and the suit sprang back to life.

Clyde Kuehn of Belleville, Lakin’s lawyer in the Doe suit, filed a new suit for judgment that State Farm must defend him under homeowner and umbrella liability policies.

Kuehn amended the complaint last September, to add Kristopher as plaintiff.

“At all relevant times, Kristopher Lakin resided with Thomas Lakin,” he wrote.

In November, John Cunningham of Belleville wrote for State Farm that the policies excluded injury or damage resulting from willful and malicious acts of the insured.

He wrote that they excluded injury or damage that the insured expected or intended.

In December, Lakin moved for summary judgment.

Kuehn wrote that nowhere in two counts of negligence did the Doe family allege that Lakin failed to provide security, intentionally provided alcohol to minors, or intentionally failed to protect them from harm.

“It is only alleged Mr. Lakin negligently and carelessly supervised the minors in that he carelessly allowed the minors to consume alcohol and engage in sex acts,” Kuehn wrote.

“Also, and most importantly, nowhere in the counts at issue is it alleged that Lakin intended or expected to injure plaintiffs. It is alleged that only because of his negligence, plaintiffs were injured, not that the injuries were expected or intended.”

He wrote that four counts allege carelessness and negligence, “exactly the type of things for which one purchases a policy of insurance.”

On Dec. 9, Cunningham wrote that State Farm couldn’t determine whether Kristopher had been convicted of molesting the minors or supplying cocaine to them.

He wrote that the Does must identify which minors in the civil suit correspond to the minors in the criminal case.

Lakin has served his prison time.

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