Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division
Rule 23 Order filed June 21, 2013
Rule 23 Order withdrawn July 25, 2013
In an action arising from a vehicular collision that occurred when the van in which plaintiff was riding was struck from behind by defendant’s truck, the trial court properly dismissed defendants’ third-party complaint for contribution against the driver of the van based on the settlement agreement between plaintiff and the driver of the van, notwithstanding defendants’ contention that the settlement agreement did not satisfy the good-faith requirements of the Contribution Act, since the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the agreement was made in good faith, regardless of defendants’ contentions that plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the van driver from the suit less than two weeks after serving him and that the settlement placed a disproportionate portion of the liability on defendants.
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Nos. 10-L-64007, 10-L-7732; Hon. Drella C. Savage, Judge, presiding.
Wiedner & McAuliffe, Ltd., of Chicago (Richard J. Leamy, Jr., Robert H. Fredian, and John E. Bauman, of counsel), for appellants.
Bruce Farrel Dorn & Associates, of Chicago (Ellen J. O’Rourke and Richard J. Aronson, of counsel), for appellee.
Panel JUSTICE PALMER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices McBride and Taylor concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 Defendants and third-party plaintiffs, Gregory M. Mlot and DMD Services, Inc., appeal the trial court's dismissal of their third-party complaint for contribution against third-party defendant, Michael S. Dervin. The court had found good faith with respect to Dervin's settlement agreement with plaintiff, Wendy Palacios, pursuant to the Illinois Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act (Contribution Act) (740 ILCS 100/1 et seq. (West 2008)). On appeal, defendants argue the trial court abused its discretion in finding that the settlement agreement between Palacios and Dervin was made in good faith. We affirm.
¶ 2 BACKGROUND
¶ 3 Although the parties dispute the facts in this case, the instant appeal arises out of a vehicle collision that occurred on July 31, 2008. Dervin testified in his deposition that he was driving his Chevrolet Astro van with Palacios as a passenger on Interstate 190 near Rosemont, Illinois, at approximately 4:45 or 5 p.m. that day when the accident occurred. According to Dervin, the traffic was heavy and "stop and go" at the time. Their vehicle was in the left-most lane when it was struck from behind by a truck driven by Mlot. Palacios and Dervin testified that the impact pushed their van into the vehicle in front of them, which was a Jeep Liberty driven by Lavita G. Gayle. Palacios and Dervin testified that Mlot admitted at the scene that the accident was his fault. Mlot testified in his deposition that his Ford F-150 truck came into contact with Dervin's van, but he maintained that Dervin's van first hit the Jeep in front of it.
¶ 4 Following the July 2008 vehicle accident, Palacios filed a personal injury action on July 2, 2010, against Mlot, DMD Services, and Dervin. Palacios asserted that Mlot, individually and as an agent of DMD Services, negligently caused his vehicle to collide with the rear of the vehicle in which Palacios was a passenger, causing her severe and permanent injuries which resulted in medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Palacios further asserted that Dervin negligently operated the vehicle in which Palacios was a passenger, causing it to collide with the vehicle operated by Mlot, resulting in injuries, expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
¶ 5 On June 25, 2010, Dervin also filed a personal injury action against Mlot and DMD Services, alleging that Mlot negligently caused his truck to rear-end Dervin's vehicle, which caused Dervin severe, permanent physical and psychological injuries, resulting in pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses. Dervin asserted that DMD Services was liable through agency. Defendants denied Dervin's allegations in his complaint and, in an amended answer, raised as an affirmative defense Dervin's alleged contributory negligence in operating his vehicle.
¶ 6 Palacios subsequently moved to dismiss Dervin without prejudice pursuant to section 2-1009 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (the Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-1009 (West 2010)). The trial court granted the motion on August 3, 2010.
¶ 7 On November 9, 2010, Mlot brought a third-party complaint for contribution against Dervin pursuant to the Contribution Act, asserting that Dervin negligently caused his vehicle to strike the vehicle in front of him and come to a sudden ...