Lakins accused of malicious prosecution in new suit

By Steve Gonzalez | Feb 21, 2008

Brad Lakin

Kristopher Lakin

Tom Lakin

East Alton attorney Ed Unsell filed a malicious prosecution complaint against Brad Lakin, The Lakin Law Firm and Kristopher Lakin in Madison County Circuit Court on Wednesday alleging that a $50 million countersuit they filed against him and four of his clients in 2006 was baseless.

The countersuit, which was eventually dismissed, came after Unsell sued Tom Lakin, Brad Lakin, Kristopher Lakin and the firm on behalf of his clients on April 21, 2006, alleging that Tom Lakin sexually abused two minor boys and his children, and alleging that Brad and Kristopher Lakin attempted to conceal evidence of abuse.

Tom Lakin was later indicted by a federal grand jury in April 2007, on charges that are similar to allegations set forth in Unsell's suit. Tom Lakin faces a federal criminal trial next month.

Shortly after Unsell filed suit on behalf of his clients -- a case which has been stayed until Tom Lakin's federal charges are resolved -- Brad and Kristopher Lakin filed the countersuit 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.

Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel 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 new 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 also claims Brad Lakin knew that the countersuit allegations were false because Brad Lakin was personally involved in settlement negotiations shortly after he originally filed suit against Tom Lakin.

Unsell claims the countersuit filed by the Lakins was done purposefully, willfully and with malice in order to retaliate against him and his clients for filing the sexual assault suit in the first place.

Unsell claims the countersuit also 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.

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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