The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert D. Morgan, District Judge.
The complaint herein for a declaratory judgment construing a
certain policy of insurance is before the Court upon stipulated
The plaintiffs are the City of Peoria, a Municipal Corporation
of the State of Illinois, and certain members of the Peoria
The defendants are those underwriters at Lloyd's London, who
are signatories to the policy of insurance in issue.
The policy, in pertinent part, provided insurance to all
members of said Police Department "against loss by reason of any
liability imposed by law * * *, by reason of any false
arrest, * * [or] false imprisonment * * * committed or alleged to
have been committed" by any member of the assured Police
On December 4, 1964, one Clarence Price filed a complaint
against plaintiffs, except the City of Peoria, for damages for
alleged violations of the Federal Civil Rights Act. 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
1985(2). Count two of that complaint, grounded upon the
provisions of Section 1985(2), was dismissed on October 5, 1965.
The count grounded upon the provisions of Section 1983 is still
pending before this Court, under the name and style "Clarence
Price, Plaintiff, vs. Bernard J. Kennedy, et al, Defendants,"
under Docket Number P-2751.
Defendants undertook the defense of the Price suit under a
reservation of right to withdraw upon notice of their
determination that that complaint did "not seek damages" for a
cause of action covered by their policy of insurance. On February
24, 1966, upon leave of court, defendants' attorneys withdrew
from the Price case.
This complaint, filed January 11, 1968, prays a declaratory
judgment that the policy provides coverage for the Price claim of
liability and that defendants are obligated by the policy to
defend the Price suit upon plaintiffs' behalf.
In brief summary, the Price complaint alleges that Price was
taken into custody at St. Louis, Missouri, by members of the
Peoria Police Department on December 7, 1959, upon a warrant
charging the offense of arson; that he was detained,
incommunicado, in the Peoria City Jail, and in jails at divers
locations elsewhere within and without the State of Illinois, for
eleven days before he was taken before any magistrate; that he
was refused needed medical treatment; that he was denied the
right to consult with an attorney who sought to see him on two
separate days at Peoria; that his attempts to communicate with
another attorney were thwarted by the police; that he was
questioned repeatedly and persistently by various policemen and
other State officials during the period of his incommunicado
detention; that he signed confessions admitting that he had set
fire to a building in Peoria, which resulted in the death of one
person; that he was indicted and subsequently convicted of the
offense of murder by arson; that his conviction was reversed by
the Illinois Supreme Court upon its holding that the use in
evidence of his confessions was a denial of due process of law
(People v. Price, 24 Ill.2d 46, 179 N.E.2d 685), and that he was
finally released from custody on February 8, 1962.
It must be conceded that the Price complaint does not purport
to allege any classic common law action under the laws of
Illinois, and that the sole theory of recovery is the statutory
action for denial of federal civil rights created in the year
1871; but this determination is not considered determinative and
this Court believes a justiciable controversy does now exist.
The initial issue to be considered arises from the divergent
contentions of the parties relative to the construction of the
risks clause of the policy, with reference to the Price
Defendants contend that the risks assumed in the policy are
limited to liability imposed by virtue of any common law action
for false arrest, false imprisonment or other action based upon
the tortious conduct mentioned in that clause.
Plaintiffs take the position that the demands of the Price
complaint rest upon a charge of a false arrest or false
imprisonment, and that any liability imposed upon them would be
a liability arising "by reason of" such false arrest or ...