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Pine Top Receivables of Illinois, LLC, A Limited Liability Corporation v. Banco De Seguros Del Estado

December 13, 2012

PINE TOP RECEIVABLES OF ILLINOIS, LLC, A LIMITED LIABILITY CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BANCO DE SEGUROS DEL ESTADO, STATUTORY CORPORATION WHOLLY OWNED BY THE SOVEREIGN REPUBLIC OF URUGUAY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Marvin E. Aspen

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

MARVIN E. ASPEN, District Court Judge:

Plaintiff Pine Top Receivables of Illinois, LLC ("PTRIL" or "Plaintiff") filed suit on August 12, 2012 to collect payments allegedly due its assignor, Pine Top Insurance Company ("Pine Top"), from Defendant Banco de Seguros del Estado ("Banco" or "Defendant"). (Dkt. No. 1.) It seeks alternatively to compel arbitration (Count I) or to obtain judgment from the court (Count II). (Comp. ¶¶ 27, 29.) Banco filed a motion to dismiss Count I and an answer to Count II. (Dkt. Nos. 9, 13.) PTRIL moved the court to strike the motion to dismiss and the answer for failure to comply with the Illinois Insurance Code, 215 ILCS 5/123(5) ("Code"). (Dkt. No. 16.) For the following reasons, we deny Plaintiff's motion to strike.

BACKGROUND

Before entering receivership in 1985, Pine Top engaged in the reinsurance business. (Mem. at 1.) Between 1977 and 1984, Defendant entered into a number of contracts with Pine Top, by which it agreed to pay specified shares of Pine Top's liabilities related to underlying insurance contracts in exchange for premium payments and other recoveries. (Mem. at 2; Compl. ¶¶ 9--11.) In 1986, the Circuit Court of Cook County placed Pine Top into liquidation and appointed the Illinois Deputy of Insurance as its Liquidator. (Compl. ¶ 7.) During the liquidation process, Plaintiff incorporated in order to purchase Pine Top's reinsurance accounts receivable. (Mem. at 1.) The Liquidator subsequently executed an assignment to Plaintiff of all rights, title, and interest in accounts receivable arising out of Pine Top's contracts and treaties of reinsurance. (Compl. ¶ 1.)

After conducting an accounting of Pine Top's outstanding debts and credits, the Liquidator sent Defendant a letter dated July 31, 2008 demanding more than $2,000,000 in overdue balances that Defendant allegedly owed on various contracts with Pine Top. (Answer ¶ 18.) Defendant disputed the Liquidator's demand, and Plaintiff initiated the present suit to compel arbitration, or in the alternative, for judgment awarding the balance as stated by the Liquidator. (Answer ¶ 19; Compl. ¶¶ 27, 29.) Defendant has filed an answer and a motion to dismiss. (Dkt. Nos. 9, 13.)

Plaintiff moved to strike the answer and motion to dismiss, alleging that Defendant has not paid pre-judgment security as required by the Code. (Mem. at 2.) The Code provides in part:

Before any unauthorized foreign or alien company shall file or cause to be filed any pleading in any action or proceeding, including any arbitration, instituted against it, such unauthorized company shall . . . deposit with the clerk of the court in which such action or proceeding is pending or with the clerk of the court in the jurisdiction in which the arbitration is pending cash or securities or file with such clerk a bond with good and sufficient sureties, to be approved by the court, in an amount to be fixed by the court sufficient to secure the payment of any final judgment which may be rendered in such action, proceeding, or arbitration[.] 215 ILCS 5/123.

Defendant opposes the motion on three grounds: (1) because Defendant is an instrumentality of a foreign state, it is immune from the pre-judgment security requirement under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1602 et seq. (2006) ("FSIA"); (2) Plaintiff lacks standing to enforce the Code; and (3) the Code was not amended to extend the security provision to reinsurers until 1997, so the court may not apply that provision retroactively to contracts that the parties entered in the 1970s and 80s. (Opp'n at 1.)

ANALYSIS

I. Plaintiff's Standing under 215 ILCS 5/123(5)

First we address whether Plaintiff has standing to seek pre-judgment security under the Code. Because the issue of pre-judgment security arises under an Illinois statute, the Plaintiff must satisfy the requirements of both Article III and the state law of standing. See 13B Fed. Prac. & Proc. § 3531.14 (3d ed. 2008) ("[A]s to litigation involving state rights but commenced in federal courts or removed to them, state law [on standing] ordinarily should apply," but "state rules that recognize standing need not be honored if Article III requirements are not met . . ."); Mid-Hudson Catskill Rural Migrant Ministry, Inc. v. Fine Host Corp., 418 F.3d 168, 173 (2d Cir. 2005) ("Where, as here, jurisdiction is predicated on diversity of citizenship, a plaintiff must have standing under both Article III of the Constitution and applicable state law in order to maintain a cause of action.").

Defendant does not challenge Plaintiff's constitutional standing, but we observe for the sake of completeness that Plaintiff easily meets the requirements of Article III. "To establish Article III standing, a plaintiff must allege (1) an injury in fact; (2) a causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of; and (3) a likelihood that the injury will be 'redressed by a favorable decision.'" Thrasher-Lyon v. Illinois Farmers Ins. Co., 861 F. Supp. 2d 898, 908 (N.D. Ill. 2012) (citing Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560--61, 112 S. Ct. 2130, 2136 (1992)). Here, Plaintiff has alleged concrete injury in the form of unpaid debts, attributable to Defendant's failure to pay, which is entirely redressible by a favorable decision. (Compl. ¶¶ 19, 29.) Thus, Plaintiff has standing under Article III.

Defendant argues, however, that Plaintiff lacks standing because it is not an "intended or incidental beneficiary of the Statute," or "a member of the class the Statute was designed to protect." (Opp'n at 9--10.) Beyond the requirements of Article III, we look to the Illinois Supreme Court to determine whether Plaintiff has standing to bring a claim under state law. See, e.g., City of Yorkville ex rel. Aurora Blacktop Inc. v. Am. S. Ins. Co., 654 F.3d 713, 716 (7th Cir. 2011) (applying Illinois law to the question of standing in a state-law contract dispute); Kathrein v. McGrath, 166 F. App'x 858, 863 (7th Cir. 2006) (applying Illinois law of standing to a state-law fraudulent billing claim). Defendant's argument fails under state law, because the Illinois Supreme Court has specifically rejected the "zone of interest" or ...


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