In Bain v. Airoom, LLC, No. 1-21-001, 2022 Ill. App. LEXIS 241, the Appellate Court of Illinois (Appellate Court) considered whether the lower court erred in enforcing an arbitration clause in a construction contract between the parties and, as a result, dismissing the plaintiff’s lawsuit. The Appellate Court found that even if the arbitration clause was enforceable, the appropriate action would have been for the court to stay the lawsuit, as opposed to dismissing the case entirely. The Appellate Court then considered the language of the arbitration clause and found that several provisions were substantively unconscionable, which rendered the entire arbitration clause unenforceable. The Appellate Court reversed the lower court’s decision compelling arbitration and reinstated the plaintiff’s complaint. Continue reading
In Sheckler v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co, 2021 IL App (3d) 190500, 2021 Ill. App. LEXIS 593, Auto-Owners Insurance Company (Insurer) paid its insured, Ronald McIntosh (McIntosh), for property damage following a fire in an apartment he rented to Monroe and Dorothy Sheckler (the Shecklers). Insurer filed suit against Wayne Workman (Workman), who performed service work on an oven in the Shecklers’ apartment that leaked gas and resulted in a fire. Workman filed a third-party complaint against the Shecklers for contribution and the Shecklers tendered the defense of the claim to Insurer. Insurer refused the tender and the Shecklers filed a declaratory judgment action. In the court below, the Shecklers argued that, as tenants, they were co-insureds on McIntosh’s property insurance policy. Following a liberal interpretation of precedent from the Supreme Court of Illinois in Dix Mutual Insurance Co. v. LaFramboise, 597 N.E. 2d 622 (Ill. 1992), an Illinois appellate court ruled that Insurer – who provided property insurance – must defend the tenants of a rental property from contribution claims if the tenants are co-insureds under the landlord’s policy. Continue reading
When the direct door to a subrogation recovery closes, the reimbursement door remains open.
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, construing Indiana law, recently clarified the distinction between workers’ compensation subrogation rights and workers’ compensation lien rights. Workers’ compensation subrogation professionals should always keep this critical difference between direct subrogation and reimbursement in mind when evaluating any claim. Continue reading
Foreseeability is a tort concept that tends to permeate several aspects of legal analysis, often causing confusion in litigants’ interpretation of, and courts’ application of, foreseeability to their cases. In Cincinnati Ins. Co. v. Progress Rail Services. Corp., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73967 (C.D. Ill.), the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois took on the task of analyzing a case dealing with foreseeability issues to determine if the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty and if the damages were so remote as to violate public policy. The court held that since the defendant’s actions contributed to the risk of harm to the plaintiff and the facts satisfied the four-prong duty test, the defendant owed the plaintiff’s subrogor a duty of reasonable care. It also held that the plaintiff’s damage claim did not open the defendant up to liability that would violate public policy. Continue reading
The implied warranty of habitability allows a homeowner to recover damages for latent defects that interfere with the intended use of a home. In Sienna Court Condo. Ass’n v. Champion Aluminum Corp., 2018 IL 122022, 2018 Ill. LEXIS 1244 (2018), the Supreme Court of Illinois held that buyers of new homes cannot assert claims for breach of the implied warranty of habitability against subcontractors involved in the construction of the homes because the subcontractors have no contractual relationship with the homeowners and the damages are purely economic. As the court explained, the implied warranty of habitability is a creature of contract (not tort) and, therefore, only exists when there is contractual privity between the defendants and the homeowners. Continue reading