Former lawyer Tom Lakin, seeking coverage from his home insurer in defending a suit alleging sexual abuse of minors in his home, compares his conduct to running a stop light or speeding in a construction zone.
“Having a party does not mean one expects sexual abuse to take place,” Jarrod Beasley of Belleville wrote for Lakin on May 28, in a dispute with State Farm.
The insurer has argued it has no duty to defend Lakin against abuse claims of a John Doe family because he intentionally harmed them.
Beasley responded that counts of negligence against Lakin and son Kristopher Lakin in the abuse suit triggered coverage.
He wrote that the counts are not premised on any sexual abuse by them.
“They are premised on negligent supervision which resulted in sexual abuse by others,” he wrote. “This is a massive distinction.”
The family, he wrote, alleges that the Lakins negligently allowed minors to consume alcohol and have sexual relations.
“This is sufficient to allege both a loss and an occurrence under the policies, and does not, as a matter of law, allege an expected or intended injury to occur,” Beasley wrote.
“Doing careless things that set the stage for injury is the hallmark of a negligence claim,” he wrote. “That is what is alleged.
“It makes the injury more likely, but certainly not expected.
“Speeding in a construction zone makes injury more likely, but certainly not expected. Running a red light makes injury more likely, but not expected."
He wrote that by alleging intentional abuse and civil conspiracy, the family did not transform independent negligence counts into intentional counts.
“It is entirely possible to act intentionally on certain occasions and cause damage to plaintiffs,” Beasley wrote.
“It is also entirely possible to act negligently on certain occasions and cause damage to plaintiffs.
“That is, in fact, what was alleged in the underlying complaint.”
He wrote that a jury will decide what conduct caused what injury and whether State Farm owed Lakin a duty to indemnify him.
To counter an argument from State Farm that Lakin admitted intentionally harmful action when he pleaded guilty of sexual abuse, Beasley wrote that it didn’t matter.
“How Thomas Lakin acted on a few occasions is not dispositive of how he acted on other occasions, specifically the times it is alleged he acted negligently by failing to supervise the minors,” he wrote.
Beasley practices at Clyde Kuehn’s firm in Belleville.
John Cunningham of Belleville represents State Farm.
St. Clair County Circuit Judge Randall Kelley planned a hearing Friday, June 6.