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Williamson v. Asher

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division

June 24, 2013

MARY CATHERINE WILLIAMSON, Individually, and as Special Administrator of the Estate of Michael Williamson, Deceased, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CAROLYN ASHER, as Special Administrator of the Estate of Arthur Asher; HERB ELDRIDGE; d/b/a A&H Trucking, Inc.; and A&H TRUCKING, INC., an Indiana Corporation, Defendants (KRX, INC., Intervenor-Appellant).

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Nos. 04 L 5666, 06 CH 26687 Honorable Barbara McDonald, Judge Presiding.

JUSTICE CUNNINGHAM delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Hoffman and Justice Delort concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

CUNNINGHAM, JUSTICE.

¶ 1 This appeal arises from the May 23, 2012 order of the circuit court of Cook County, which directed the plaintiff, Mary Catherine Williamson[1] (Mary Catherine) to pay $206, 914.29 to intervenor KRX, Inc. (KRX), in satisfaction of KRX's workers' compensation lien against damages recovered by Mary Catherine in an underlying tort action. The order denied KRX's request for a portion of the interest on the underlying judgment amount. On appeal, KRX argues that the trial court erred in denying KRX's request to recover a portion of the interest on the underlying judgment amount. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court of Cook County.

¶ 2 BACKGROUND

¶ 3 This case has a complex procedural history and only the most pertinent facts are reproduced below. On April 23, 2003, a truck driven by Arthur Asher crossed the center line of a highway in McLean County, Illinois, and collided with a gasoline tanker truck owned by KRX and driven by Michael Williamson. Both Arthur Asher and Michael Williamson died in the accident.

¶ 4 Subsequently, KRX, as Michael Williamson's employer, paid $283, 549.80 in workers' compensation to his widow, Mary Catherine.

¶ 5 In May 2004, Mary Catherine, individually and as special administrator of Michael Williamson's estate, brought a lawsuit (case No. 04 L 5666) against several defendants, including Arthur Asher's widow, Carolyn Asher[2]; Herbert Eldridge[3] (Eldridge); A&H Trucking, Inc.[4] (A&H Trucking); and Harmon Designs, Inc.[5] (Harmon Designs). The complaint sought damages for wrongful death, survival, medical and funeral expenses, and loss of consortium.

¶ 6 On May 27, 2005, Great West Casualty Company (Great West), as insurer and subrogee of KRX, the owner of the truck driven by Michael Williamson at the time of the accident, brought a separate property damage action against the same defendants to recover for damages to KRX's truck (case No. 05 L 5859). As a result of the accident, Great West, under the terms of its insurance policy, indemnified KRX for the damaged truck and, thus, KRX was not a direct party in the property damage action. On October 4, 2005, the two causes of action (case Nos. 04 L 5666 and 05 L 5859) were consolidated (the underlying action).

¶ 7 On May 19, 2006, the trial court entered a default order against all defendants on all counts in the consolidated underlying action. Following a "prove-up" hearing on August 3, 2006, the trial court entered default judgment in the amount of $6.5 million in favor of Mary Catherine and $47, 505.89 in favor of Great West.

¶ 8 On September 1, 2006, the defendants in the underlying action filed a motion to vacate the default judgment, which was denied by the trial court. On May 12, 2009, this court affirmed the judgment on appeal. Great West Casualty Co. v. Asher, No. 1-07-1910 (2009) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).

¶ 9 On December 7, 2006, while the underlying action was pending on appeal, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (State Farm), as insurer for the defendants in the underlying action, filed a declaratory judgment action in the chancery division of the circuit court of Cook County (case No. 06 CH 26687) seeking a declaration that it had no duty to defend or indemnify the defendants in the underlying action.

¶ 10 On September 6, 2007, KRX filed a petition to intervene in State Farm's declaratory judgment action (case No. 06 CH 26687), alleging that it was an interested party in the litigation because KRX had a workers' compensation lien against any judgment granted in favor of Mary Catherine and that KRX must protect its lien "with respect to any settlement or judgment in this case."[6] In KRX's pleadings before the court, KRX asserted that it "holds a lien against [Mary Catherine's] interest in the [underlying] judgment, having extended workers' compensation benefits to the [e]state of Michael Williamson." KRX further requested that the chancery court "assess post-judgment interest due and owing by [State Farm] on [KRX's] lien since August 3, 2006, pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/2-1303."

ΒΆ 11 On July 1, 2011, the chancery court (case No. 06 CH 26687) ruled that State Farm had a duty to defend and indemnify the defendants in the underlying action and that it ...


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