State Farm challenges Lakin's call for coverage in sexual abuse suit; Injuries could never be characterized as 'accident,' it says

By The Madison County Record | Jun 11, 2014


Comparisons that former lawyer Tom Lakin drew between sexual abuse of minors and traffic violations don’t justify coverage of a John Doe suit against him under his homeowner policy, State Farm argues in St. Clair County court.

In a June 2 brief for State Farm, Daniel Hasenstab of Belleville countered an argument from Lakin and son Kristopher Lakin that the suit alleges an accident.

“The Lakins cannot avoid application of well established Illinois law simply by providing inapplicable analogies and argument without citation to authority,”Hasenstab wrote.

The Lakins pleaded in May that injury from sexual abuse is likely but not expected, similar to running a stop light or speeding in a construction zone.

Their lawyer, Clyde Kuehn of Belleville, wrote, “Having a party does not mean one expects sexual abuse to take place.”

Hasenstab replied that, “any such party involved the Lakins inviting the minor Does to their home for the purpose of providing them with drugs, molesting them, or watching from nearby while other adults molested them.

"Thomas and Kristopher are alleged to have perpetrated, supervised, and allowed all the abuse of the Doe parties.

"The injuries the Doe parties suffered as a result of that misconduct could never be characterized as caused by an accident.”

Tom Lakin sued State Farm last year, claiming it owed a duty to defend him.

The Doe family suit started in 2006, but stalled while Tom Lakin served six years in federal prison for drug distribution.

In 2011, in custody, he registered as a sex offender in Madison County court.

He stipulated that he placed John Doe’s penis in his mouth.

State Farm found itself in the case after the Doe family amended the complaint.

The insurer found the amendment suspicious, suggesting the family changed their claims so they too could qualify for legal fees under Lakin’s homeowner policy.

Kuehn’s brief for Lakin interpreted the suggestion as an accusation of fraud.

Hasenstab replied, “That contention is both incorrect and inappropriate.

"What State Farm has done is direct this court to the repeated holdings of the Illinois Supreme Court and appellate court that a tort claimant may not trigger insurance coverage for intentional conduct through facetious allegations of negligence.

“The procedural history of the underlying lawsuit strongly suggests that the Doe parties filed the Doe third amended complaint for the purpose of attempting to trigger insurance coverage.

"After learning of the State Farm policies, the Doe defendants filed three amended underlying complaints in succession, two of which they filed after the coverage action commenced.

“The Lakins claim that the above amendments had absolutely nothing to do with insurance coverage, but instead were only based on factual discovery in the underlying case.

“Such a contention is not credible given the Lakins’ and the Does’ attorneys’ representations in this coverage action that no written or oral discovery has taken place in the underlying lawsuit.”

He wrote that the family deleted factual allegations, stripped damning facts from other allegations, and restyled claims against Kristopher as vague negligence counts.

Further, he wrote that the policy excluded willful and malicious acts, and that permitting minors to consume drugs and alcohol and engage in sex with adults was willful and malicious.

He wrote that the Lakins incorrectly represented that the negligence counts allege only that minors were abused by others.

“While the underlying complaint does allege that the Lakins allowed John Doe to be sexually abused by multiple women, it also alleges that the Lakins allowed John Doe and Jane Doe to engage in sex acts and to be sexually abused by unidentified perpetrators who are, in fact, the Lakins themselves,”he wrote.

He cited three decisions from other states holding that public policy prohibits a person from insuring against his own acts of sexual assault.

Also on June 2, Bob Sprague of Belleville entered his appearance for Kristopher Lakin.

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