APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, SECOND DIVISION
DENNIS JACHERA et al., Minors, by their Next Friend, Dennis
545 N.E.2d 314, 189 Ill. App. 3d 281, 136 Ill. Dec. 790 1989.IL.1493
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. James F. Stack, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE HARTMAN delivered the opinion of the court. SCARIANO and DiVITO, JJ., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE HARTMAN
Plaintiffs, passengers in a funeral limousine, brought a personal injury negligence action against its owner, Blake-Lamb Funeral Homes, Inc., and operator William McCarthy (jointly, Blake-Lamb/McCarthy), as well as Norbert Mueller, the driver of the vehicle which collided with the limousine. Mueller counterclaimed for contribution against Blake-Lamb/McCarthy. Mueller's counterclaim against Blake-Lamb/McCarthy subsequently was dismissed. Because of pretrial settlements, the cause went to trial against defendant Mueller only, resulting in a jury verdict found for plaintiff Daniel Howell (Daniel) and against Mueller.
On appeal, Mueller questions the circuit court's finding that a settlement agreement between Daniel and Blake-Lamb/McCarthy was made in good faith and contests the dismissal of his counterclaim for contribution in Daniel's case.
On August 25, 1983, all eight plaintiffs, including Daniel, were riding in the funeral limousine which had exited a cemetery onto 87th Street and was stopped at the median strip, waiting to make a turn. It was then struck broadside by Mueller's automobile. The limousine occupants, including Daniel, sustained injuries and eventually brought negligence actions against Blake-Lamb/McCarthy, and Mueller.
Mueller filed a contribution counterclaim, based in part on Daniel's underlying action, against Blake-Lamb/McCarthy. In turn, Blake-Lamb/McCarthy counterclaimed for contribution against Mueller. Blake-Lamb/McCarthy also filed a subsequent third-party complaint for contribution against South Side Home Health Care, Inc. (South Side), allegedly Mueller's employer at the time of the collision.
On September 21, 1987, settlement agreements between Blake-Lamb/McCarthy and all eight plaintiffs were presented to the circuit court for approval; Mueller objected to only that of plaintiff Pamela Howell. *fn1 The court expressly found that the settlements were made in good faith and dismissed with prejudice Blake-Lamb and McCarthy as parties to the suit. In an order dated May 5, 1988, Mueller's counterclaim was dismissed nunc pro tunc as of September 21, 1987.
The terms of the subject settlement were incorporated in an instrument entitled "Contribution Release," under which Daniel received an immediate payment of $5,600 in exchange for his release and dismissal of any claim against Blake-Lamb/McCarthy. The release further provided that Blake-Lamb/McCarthy would contribute up to an additional $11,760 to Daniel if the verdict against Mueller and/or South Side exceeded the amount of ...