United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PHIL GILBERT U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs and Third-party
defendant Edwards-Kamadulski, LLC's Joint Motion (Doc.
189) for a Good-Faith Finding. The motion being fully
briefed, the Court held a hearing on the motion on April
case arose from an accident which occurred westbound on
Interstate 70 in Madison County on September 16, 2013.
Plaintiff Thomas Roberts was driving a 2012 Dodge Ram 4500
and was stopped due to construction on the road when he was
struck in the rear by a Freightliner tractor trailer driven
by defendant Solomakha. Defendants Solomakha, Alexandria
Transportation, Inc. and Alex Express, LL brought a
third-party complaint (Doc. 116) against Edwards-Kamadulski,
LLC (“Edwards”), Safety International, LLC and
Statewide Tire Distributors, Inc. The plaintiffs and
third-party defendant Edwards now seek an order finding that
the settlement agreement between the plaintiffs and Edwards
was made and entered into in good faith with the meaning of
the Illinois Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act (740 ILCS
1000/1, et seq.).
Illinois Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act provides that:
(c) When a release or covenant not to sue or not to enforce
judgment is given in good faith to one or more persons liable
in tort arising out of the same injury or the same wrongful
death, it does not discharge any of the other tortfeasors
from liability for the injury or wrongful death unless its
terms so provide but it reduces the recovery on any claim
against the others to the extent of any amount stated in the
release or the covenant, or in the amount of the
consideration actually paid for it, whichever is greater.
(d) The tortfeasor who settles with a claimant pursuant to
paragraph (c) is discharged from all liability for any
contribution to any other tortfeasor.
740 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 100/2.
Contribution Act does not specifically define good faith; in
determining whether an agreement was made in good faith, all
of the surrounding circumstances must be considered. However,
once a preliminary showing of a good-faith settlement has
been made, the burden shifts to the party challenging the
settlement to establish that it was not made in good
faith.” Wilson v. Hoffman Group, Inc., 546
N.E.2d 524, 529 (Ill. 1989).
Having reviewed the relevant case law, we conclude that, when
a court determines whether a settlement was negotiated in
good faith within the meaning of the Contribution Act, the
settling parties carry the initial burden of making a
preliminary showing of good faith. At a minimum, the settling
parties must show the existence of a legally valid settlement
agreement. However, not all legally valid settlements satisfy
the good-faith requirements of the Contribution Act.
Therefore, other factual evidence may be necessary before the
court may determine, as an initial matter, whether the
settlement is fair and reasonable in light of the policies
underlying the Contribution Act.
Further, we are persuaded by the well-reasoned decision in
Bowers that, once a preliminary showing of good
faith has been made by the settling parties, the party
challenging the good faith of the settlement need prove the
absence of good faith by a preponderance of the evidence.
This court has previously recognized that the Contribution
Act seeks to promote two important public policies-the
encouragement of settlements and the equitable apportionment
of damages among tortfeasors. When a court decides whether a
settlement was negotiated in “good faith, ” it