Articles Posted in Insurance Law

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Plaintiffs brought a purported class action to recover damages resulting from an alleged scheme to inflate the interest rate delinquent property taxpayers in Madison County, Illinois, were compelled to pay to those who purchased delinquent taxpayer debt. Former Madison County Treasurer and Collector (Bathon) had purportedly agreed with certain defendants to manipulate the delinquent tax purchasing system, so that delinquent taxpayers were required to pay the maximum allowable interest to the purchasers of their tax debt to discharge the liens and redeem their properties. The purchasers of the tax debt allegedly provided financial support to Bathon. Plaintiffs brought suit against those involved in the scheme, Madison County, and RLI, the entity acting as surety on Bathon’s statutory public official bond under 55 ILCS 5/3-10003 and 35 ILCS 200/19-40. The bond identified “Madison County Government” as the named obligee. The court dismissed, finding that plaintiffs were not proper claimants under the terms of the public official bond or under the statutes. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. Private citizens are precluded from making claims on the statutorily mandated public official bond at issue. View "Bueker v. Madison County" on Justia Law

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Bayer, an ironworker with Area Erectors, which was hired by Garbe to build Panduit’s warehouse facilities, fell and is now quadriplegic. Bayer filed a claim against Area under the Workers’ Compensation Act (820 ILCS 305/1). Area began making temporary total disability payments and payments for Bayer’s medical expenses. Bayer also sued Panduit, Garbe, and a structural engineering company for negligence. Panduit and Garbe sued Area under the Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act (740 ILCS 100/0.01). Bayer's settlement with Area was approved, so Area was discharged from contribution liability. Other claims were resolved, leaving only Bayer’s action for negligence against Panduit. Judgment ($64 million) was entered in Bayer’s favor. Under the Workers’ Compensation Act (820 ILCS 305/5(b)), Area was entitled to recover out of that judgment the amount of compensation it paid or would pay to Bayer, including amounts paid or to be paid under the Act for medical expenses, vocational rehabilitation, and temporary partial disability benefits. The court suspended future workers’ compensation payments. The Act provides that where, “the services of an attorney at law of the employee . . . have . . . substantially contributed to the procurement ... of the proceeds out of which the employer is reimbursed, then, in the absence of other agreement, the employer shall pay such attorney 25% of the gross amount of such reimbursement,” 820 ILCS 305/5(b), so Bayer’s lawyers were entitled to fees equal to 25% of the amount Area had paid for lost wages, medical expenses, and other compensable items before payments were suspended. Building on its 1990 holding that the gross amount of reimbursement subject to attorney fees includes both benefits paid before the third-party recovery and the amount of such benefits the employer will be relieved from paying in the future by reason of the third-party action, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the value of future medical care should be included in this calculation. View "Bayer v. Panduit Corp." on Justia Law

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Haney rented a car from Enterprise. While being driven by Artley, the vehicle collided with an oncoming car operated by Nelson. Nelson sued Artley, who was uninsured, and obtained a default judgment. Nelson brought a supplementary action against Enterprise. Enterprise denied that it was in possession of any property of Artley and raised affirmative defenses to recovery: that Artley was not its customer, was not listed on its rental agreement with Haney and did not have Haney’s permission to use the vehicle. Haney had reported the vehicle as stolen. Enterprise contended in the alternative that it was self-insured, that its total financial responsibility for the liability of any authorized driver was $100,000 per occurrence, and that it had paid $50,000 to settle another claim from the same accident and had tendered $50,000 to the court to allocate between Nelson and a third injured party, exhausting its liability limits. Enterprise also argued that there was nothing in its rental agreement nor in Illinois statutes to obligate Enterprise to pay costs or post-judgment interest connected with the default judgment. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed with the trial court that, under a 2005 appellate court decision, Enterprise’s liability was limited to the minimum coverage provisions applicable to rental car companies that meet their financial responsibility obligations through the purchase of an insurance policy and not the full amount of the default judgment. View "Nelson v. Artley" on Justia Law

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In December, 2009, Heelan, a Vernon Hills police officer for approximately 20 years, responded to an emergency call, slipped on ice, and fell. He was ultimately diagnosed with significant osteoarthritis in both hips, aggravated by the fall, and had two hip replacement surgeries. He did not return to work. The Village Police Pension Board awarded a line-of-duty disability pension, 40 ILCS 5/3-114.1. The Village sought a declaration that it was not obligated to pay Heelan’s health insurance premium under the Public Safety Employee Benefits Act (the Act), 820 ILCS 320/10. The circuit court entered judgment in favor of Heelan. The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, Proof of a line-of-duty disability pension establishes a catastrophic injury under section 10(a) of the Act as a matter of law; a public safety officer’s employer-sponsored health insurance coverage expires upon the termination of the officer’s employment by the award of the line-of-duty disability pension. The Act lengthens such health insurance coverage beyond the termination of the officer’s employment. View "Village of Vernon Hills v. Heelan" on Justia Law

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Country Casualty's agent Lessaris, issued an automobile insurance policy to Skaperdas. Skaperdas’s fiancée, Day, was subsequently involved in an accident while driving his vehicle. Country Casualty covered the loss but required Skaperdas to change his policy to include Day. Lessaris prepared the policy, but identified only Skaperdas, not Day, as a named insured. The policy's declarations page identified the driver as a “female, 30-64.” Following issuance of the policy, Day’s minor son, Jackson, was struck by a vehicle while riding his bicycle and seriously injured. The driver’s insurance was insufficient to cover Jackson’s medical expenses. Plaintiffs made a demand for underinsured motorist coverage under the Country Casualty policy. Country Casualty denied the claim on the ground that neither Day nor Jackson was listed as a named insured. Plaintiffs filed suit, alleging that Lessaris breached his duty to exercise ordinary care and skill in renewing, procuring, binding, and placing insurance coverage as required by 735 ILCS 5/2-2201, and that Country Casualty was responsible for the acts of its agent under the doctrine of respondeat superior. They also sought reformation of contract to include Day as an additional named insured and a declaration of coverage. The trial court dismissed the negligence and respondeat superior counts. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Code does impose a duty of ordinary care. View "Skaperdas v. Country Cas. Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Tuzzolino and his law firm represented Coletta. Coletta alleged that, in litigation, Tuzzolino failed to timely disclose expert witnesses; failed to retain needed expert witnesses; advised Coletta to settle for an amount far less than Coletta’s losses; told Coletta that negotiations were continuing after dismissal; and signed settlement documents without informing Coletta. According to Coletta, Tuzzolino offered to pay $670,000 to settle any potential malpractice claim, but never paid. Three months later, shortly before the expiration of the firm’s 2007-08 malpractice policy with ISBA Mutual, Tuzzolino completed a renewal application. In response to: “Has any member of the firm become aware of a past or present circumstance(s), act(s), error(s) or omission(s), which may give rise to a claim that has not been reported?” Tuzzolino checked “no.” Mutual issued the policy. Tuzzolino’s partner, Terpinas, learned of Tuzzolino’s malfeasance a month later, when he received a lien letter from Coletta’s attorney. Terpinas reported the claim to Mutual, which sought rescission and other relief. The circuit court entered summary judgment against Tuzzolino and rescinded the policy, finding that Mutual had no duty to defend Terpinas or the firm against Coletta’s action. The appellate court reversed as to Terpinas, citing the common law “innocent insured doctrine.” The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the rescission, citing 215 ILCS 5/154, which allows rescission in cases involving misrepresentations “made by the insured or in his behalf,” with an actual intent to deceive or that “materially affect the acceptance of the risk or hazard assumed by the insurer.” View "Ill. State Bar Ass'n Mut. Ins. Co. v. Law Office of Tuzzolino & Terpinas" on Justia Law

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Neumann Homes was the developer of two Antioch subdivisions. The Village entered into infrastructure agreements with Neumann to make public improvements in the subdivisions; Neumann provided four substantially identical surety bonds issued by Fidelity, totaling $18,128,827. The bonds did not contain specific “payment bond” language. A payment bond generally provides that if the contractor does not pay its subcontractors and material suppliers, the surety will pay them. In contrast, a “completion bond” or “performance bond” provides that if the contractor does not complete a project, the surety will pay for its completion. Lake County Grading (plaintiff) and Neumann entered into agreements for plaintiff to provide labor and materials for the improvements. Plaintiff completed the work, but was not paid in full. Neumann defaulted on its contract with the Village and declared bankruptcy. Plaintiff served Neumann and the Village with notices of a lien claim and ultimately filed suit, alleging breach of contract because the surety bonds did not contain language guaranteeing payment to subcontractors compliant with the first paragraph of section 1 of the Bond Act, 30 ILCS 550/1, and that it became a third-party beneficiary of the contracts between the Village and Neumann because the Act’s requirements are read into every public works contract for the benefit of subcontractors. The circuit court entered summary judgment on those counts. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, holding that the bonds were sufficient and did not violate the Act, so that the Village did not breach any contractual obligation. View "Lake Cnty. Grading Co. v. Vill. of Antioch" on Justia Law

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Public Act 97-695 (eff. July 1, 2012), amended section 10 of the State Employees Group Insurance Act of 1971, 5 ILCS 375/10, by eliminating the statutory standards for the state’s contributions to health insurance premiums for members of three of the state’s retirement systems. The amendment requires the Director of Central Management Services to determine annually the amount of the health insurance premiums that will be charged to the state and to retired public employees. It is not limited to those who become annuitants or survivors on or after the statute’s effective date. The amendment was challenged by members of the affected entities: State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS), State Universities Retirement System (SURS), and Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), as violation the pension protection clause, the contracts clause, and the separation of powers clause of the Illinois Constitution. Certain plaintiffs added common-law claims based on contract and promissory estoppel. The Illinois Supreme Court, on direct review, reversed dismissal, stating that health insurance subsidies are constitutionally protected by the pension protection clause and rejecting an argument that only the retirement annuity itself is covered. View "Kanerva v. Weems" on Justia Law

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Bridgeview Health Care Center filed a class action complaint against Clark, an Illinois resident who operates Affordable Digital Hearing, a sole proprietorship out of Terre Haute, Indiana. Bridgeview alleged that Clark sent Bridgeview and others unsolicited faxes and claimed violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, 47 U.S.C. 227; common law conversion of its fax paper and toner; and violation of the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, 815 ILCS 505/2. Clark had a comprehensive general liability policy issued by State Farm, an Illinois corporation. The policy was purchased through an Indiana agent and issued to Clark’s Indiana business address. State Farm sought declaratory judgment that it had no duty to defend in Indiana state court. The action was dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction over Bridgeview. Bridgeview sought a declaration, in Illinois state court that State Farm had a duty to defend and indemnify Clark under the advertising injury and property damage provisions of the policy. State Farm argued that Illinois law conflicts with Indiana law on coverage issues and that Indiana law should apply. The circuit court found that there was no conflict and no need to conduct a choice-of-law analysis. The appellate court reversed, finding that decisions cited by State Farm were sufficient to raise the possibility of a conflict, requiring a choice-of-law analysis The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, finding that State Farm failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that an actual conflict exists between Illinois and Indiana law. View "Bridgeview Health Care Ctr., Ltd. v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co." on Justia Law

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In the underlying litigation, the attorney represented a contractor being sued for job-site injuries and was later sued by the contractor’s insurance company for signing settlement agreements without authority. Section 13-214.3 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 735 ILCS 5/13-214.3, sets forth a six-year statute of repose for “action[s] for damages based on tort, contract, or otherwise … against an attorney arising out of an act or omission in the performance of professional services.” The trial court held that the provision barred claims for breach of implied warranty of authority, fraudulent misrepresentation, and negligent misrepresentation against the attorney. The appellate court reversed, finding that the statute of repose did not apply to an action brought by a non-client of the defendant-lawyer for a cause of action other than legal malpractice. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed and reinstated the dismissal, stating that under the plain, unambiguous language of the statute, the claims “arose out of” the attorney’s actions “in the performance of professional services.” View "Evanston Ins. Co. v. Riseborough" on Justia Law