Madison - St. Clair Record

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Judge Kelley says State Farm owes a duty to defend Lakins in sexual abuse case

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Jul 2, 2015

Tom Lakin

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Randall Kelley has concluded that State Farm Insurance owes a duty to defend Tom Lakin and his son Kristopher Lakin in a sexual abuse case involving minors.

Kelley announced his decision in a June 22 order after Tom Lakin, a registered sex offender and former attorney, sued his home insurer last year saying it owed a duty to defend the two from a suit alleging sexual abuse of minors.

The Lakins are represented by Clyde Kuehn of Belleville.

State Farm disputed that it had to provide coverage in the lawsuit arguing that Tom Lakin intentionally harmed the minors.

Represented by John Cunningham of Belleville, State Farm argued that coverage excludes willful and malicious acts, and that permitting minors to consume drugs and alcohol and engage in sex with adults is considered willful and malicious.

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

While in custody in 2011, Tom Lakin registered as a sex offender in Madison County court. He testified that he placed John Doe’s penis in his mouth.

State Farm found itself in the case after the Doe family amended its complaint. The insurer found the amendment suspicious, suggesting the family changed its claims in order to qualify for legal fees under Lakin’s homeowner policy.

In a June 2, 2014, brief filed by State Farm attorney Daniel Hasenstab of Belleville, the defendant argued that insurance coverage was not appropriate because the Doe family deleted factual allegations, stripped damning facts from other allegations and re-styled claims against Kristopher as vague negligence counts.

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

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