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Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company v. Pittington

April 22, 2005

METROPOLITAN PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
JAMES M. PITTINGTON AND PETE R. HARRISON, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 14th Judicial Circuit, Rock Island County, Illinois No. 01--MR--208 Honorable Mark A. Vandeweile, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Schmidt

Modified Upon Rehearing December 23, 2005

Plaintiff, Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company, issued a policy of insurance to defendant James Pittington. On May 7, 2000, Pittington shot defendant Pete Harrison while both were at the Pittington residence. In a separate case, Harrison's estate filed a negligence action against Pittington seeking damages for bodily injury. Prior to the filing of the bodily injury suit, Metropolitan filed this declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration that the policy of insurance issued to Pittington would not indemnify him for monetary damages stemming from the shooting of Harrison. The circuit court of Rock Island County ultimately granted Metropolitan's motion for summary judgment. Harrison appeals.

BACKGROUND

Following the shooting, Pittington was charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, and unlawful possession of a firearm without a Firearm Owner's Identification Card (FOID). During trial, an agreement between Pittington and the State was reached wherein Pittington agreed to plead guilty to reckless conduct in violation of section 12--5 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (720 ILCS 5/12--5 (West 2000)) and provide a statement that, based upon the evidence presented, he acknowledged that he would have been found guilty of the same charge had the case proceeded to verdict. Pittington was also found guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm without a FOID card.

Metropolitan filed this declaratory judgment against Pittington and Harrison claiming that any damages which resulted from Pittington's actions were excluded from coverage. After Pittington pled guilty to reckless conduct, Metropolitan filed a motion for summary judgment, which was denied by the trial court. Metropolitan then filed a motion for reconsideration, which was also denied by the trial court. Finally, Metropolitan filed a "renewed motion for reconsideration," which asked the trial court to reverse its original ruling and grant Metropolitan's motion for summary judgment. By order dated October 20, 2003, the trial court granted Metropolitan's renewed motion for reconsideration and awarded Metropolitan summary judgment.

In its final order, the trial court stated, inter alia:

"Summary Judgment is appropriate if there is no material issue of fact in dispute.
The Court has reviewed the transcript from the criminal proceeding in 2000 CF 386. Counsel represent that this is the same evidence that this Court would hear in a civil trial.
The Court finds that there is no material issue of fact. The Court further finds that the Metropolitan Policy excludes coverage for this incident. Pittington's loading and discharging a firearm was a criminal act. The transcript further indicates that Pittington told Capt. Chisholm that he intended to scare Harrison with the gun and that it was loaded in case he needed it later.
Pittington is the insured, he committed a criminal act (reckless conduct) by loading and discharging the shotgun. This is not a case where Pittington was shooting at a river rat and Harrison walked around a blind corner and was hit. Pittington was exiting the same door Harrison was entering when the gun went off.
Pittington previously loaded the shotgun with Harrison in mind. Pittington could have scared Harrison without loading the gun. Pittington made the statement to police that the gun was loaded in case he needed it later. That indicates that Pittington expected, anticipated or intended to shoot Harrison at some point.
Plaintiff's policy excludes coverage for actions by Mr. Pittington."

It is from this order that ...


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