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County of McLean v. States Self-Insurers Risk Retention Group, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

June 2, 2015

THE COUNTY OF McLEAN, JAMES SOUK, CHARLES REYNARD, and JOHN BROWN, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
STATES SELF-INSURERS RISK RETENTION GROUP, INC., Defendant-Appellant

Appeal from Circuit Court of McLean County. No. 13MR214. Honorable Albert G. Webber, Judge Presiding.

Joel D. Bertocchi and Dana A. Rice (argued), both of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, of Chicago, and Duana J. Grage, of Hinshaw & Culbertson, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, for appellant.

Michael E. Raub (argued), of Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen, of Urbana, for appellees.

JUSTICE STEIGMANN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Pope and Justice Holder White concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

STEIGMANN, J.

Page 1013

[¶1] In May 1994, authorities in McLean County arrested Alan Beaman for the August 1993 murder of Jennifer Lockmiller. In March 1995, a jury convicted Beaman of that offense, and the trial court subsequently sentenced him to 50 years in prison. In May 2008, however, the supreme court reversed Beaman's conviction, concluding that the State unlawfully withheld exculpatory evidence in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963). People v. Beaman, 229 Ill.2d 56, 890 N.E.2d 500, 321 Ill.Dec. 778 (2008). In January 2009, the State dismissed all charges against Beaman.

[¶2] In April 2012, Beaman filed suit in federal court against McLean County; former McLean County State's Attorney, Charles Reynard; former McLean County Assistant State's Attorney, James Souk; and former McLean County Deputy Sheriff, John Brown (collectively, plaintiffs), asserting (1) civil rights violations pursuant to section 1983 (42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2012)) and (2) several state-law tort claims, including malicious prosecution.

[¶3] In April 2013, plaintiffs filed in the trial court a complaint for declaratory judgment, seeking a ruling that defendant, States Self-Insurers Risk Retention Group, Inc., was obligated to pay the costs of plaintiffs' legal defense against Beaman's federal lawsuit pursuant to an insurance

Page 1014

policy that was in place when Beaman was exonerated. In June 2014, the court granted summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs, finding, for purposes of Beaman's malicious-prosecution claim, that the dismissal of the charges against him in January 2009--not his arrest or prosecution in the 1990s--constituted the date of the " occurrence" that resulted in his " personal injury" within the meaning of the insurance policy. Because the court concluded that Beaman's malicious-prosecution claim ripened during the policy period, it ordered defendant to pay the cost of plaintiffs' defense against Beaman's federal lawsuit.

[¶4] Defendant appeals, arguing that the " occurrence" of Beaman's " personal injury" within the meaning of the insurance policy was his arrest and prosecution, not his exoneration. We agree and reverse.

[¶5] I. BACKGROUND

[¶6] The following facts were gleaned from the parties' pleadings and supporting exhibits on file.

[¶7] Initially, for clarity, we note that three separate legal proceedings are relevant to this case: (1) the criminal prosecution, conviction, and ultimate exoneration of Beaman; (2) Beaman's subsequent federal lawsuit against plaintiffs seeking damages for his wrongful conviction; and (3) plaintiffs' declaratory judgment action against their insurance provider, defendant. This appeal arises from a final judgment in the declaratory judgment action, in which the trial court ordered defendant to pay the costs of plaintiffs' defense against Beaman's federal lawsuit. The supreme court's decision overturning Beaman's conviction set forth the factual details underlying the State's prosecution of Beaman, which we need not repeat. See Beaman, 229 Ill.2d at 59-71, 890 N.E.2d at 502-08. Suffice it to say, the parties do not dispute that Beaman was investigated, arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced during the 1990s. The insurance policy at issue in this case was in place from March 2008 until March 2009, during which time the supreme court overturned Beaman's conviction and the State dismissed the charges against him.

[¶8] Before turning to the declaratory judgment action and the insurance policy at issue in this appeal, we briefly review the allegations set forth in Beaman's federal lawsuit against plaintiffs.

[¶9] A. Beaman's Federal Lawsuit Against Plaintiffs

[¶10] In April 2012, Beaman filed an amended complaint in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, alleging, in pertinent part, that plaintiffs (along with other defendants who are not parties to this declaratory judgment action) concealed exculpatory evidence showing that (1) Beaman did not have the opportunity to murder Lockmiller and (2) another viable suspect existed. Beaman asserted that Reynard, Souk, and Brown were intimately involved in the murder investigation and the withholding of material, exculpatory evidence from Beaman and his defense counsel.

[¶11] Beaman's complaint set forth the following individual counts pursuant to section 1983: (1) violation of Beaman's constitutional right to due process and a fair trial; (2) conspiracy to violate Beaman's constitutional right to due process and a fair trial; and (3) " failure to intervene" to prevent a violation of Beaman's right to due process and a fair trial. Additionally, Beaman's complaint set forth the following individual state-law claims: (1) malicious prosecution; (2) civil conspiracy; (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (4) respondeat superior; and (5) indemnification. (We note that each count of Beaman's complaint incorporated, bye reference, his allegation that plaintiffs violated

Page 1015

his constitutional rights by concealing exculpatory evidence.)

[¶12] B. Plaintiffs' Declaratory Judgment Action

[¶13] In April 2013, plaintiffs filed the declaratory judgment action at issue in this appeal. In their complaint, plaintiffs alleged that defendant issued an insurance policy to McLean County for the period of March 2008 through March 2009, which provided coverage for the county and its employees against third-party claims for personal injury, bodily injury, and property damage. Plaintiffs asserted that the policy imposed a duty upon defendant to (1) pay all defense costs for plaintiffs and (2) indemnify plaintiffs for any judgment entered against them in Beaman's federal lawsuit. (We note that only defense costs ...


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