Madison - St. Clair Record

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Lakin, State Farm settle dispute over duty to defend sex assault case

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Sep 8, 2017

State Farm and former Madison County lawyer Tom Lakin settled a dispute over whether the insurer owed a duty to defend the attorney and his son Kristopher Lakin in a sexual abuse case involving minors.

A stipulation for dismissal was filed July 10 after the case was “compromised and settled.”

St. Clair County Associate Judge Heinz Rudolf granted dismissal with prejudice that same day.

Rudolf also granted dismissal in Lakin’s sexual abuse suit on Aug. 8.

Tom Lakin sued his home insurer seeking coverage for a John Doe civil sexual abuse lawsuit that originated in Madison County in 2006.

State Farm disputed in documents filed by attorney John Cunningham of Brown & James that it had to provide coverage in the lawsuit, arguing that Tom Lakin intentionally harmed the minors.

The defendant 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.

St. Clair County Associate Judge Randall Kelley found in June 2015 that State Farm did owe a duty to defend the Lakins.

State Farm responded by filing a motion for a Rule 304(a) through attorney Daniel Hasenstab of Brown & James, requesting an order finding “there is no just reason to delay the appeal” of the court’s order.

The record remained stagnant until the parties sought dismissal roughly two years later.

The Doe family's 2006 lawsuit launched a federal investigation that ended with Tom Lakin's conviction on drug charges in 2008. The civil action stalled while Tom Lakin served six years in federal prison.

While in custody in 2011, Tom Lakin registered as a sex offender in a Madison County court after admitting sexual abuse against a 15-year-old boy.

State Farm became a party in litigation after the Doe family amended their complaint. The insurer objected, saying it 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, 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.

The Lakins were represented by Clyde Kuehn of Belleville.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 13-MR-83

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Organizations in this Story

Brown & James, P.C. St. Clair County Circuit Court