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Nautilus Insurance Co. v. JLL Construction Services, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

June 1, 2017

NAUTILUS INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
JLL CONSTRUCTION SERVICES, INC., JERRY L. LEWIS, 231 W. SCOTT, LLC, DAVID E. RANSBURG, and MARK RANSBURG, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ROBERT W. GETTLEMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Nautilus Insurance Company (“Nautilus”) filed a twelve-count complaint against defendants JLL Construction Services, Inc. (“JLL”), Jerry L. Lewis (“Lewis”), 231 W. Scott, LLC, David E. Ransburg, and Mark Ransburg (collectively “the Ransburgs”), seeking a declaratory judgment that it has no duty to defend or indemnify JLL or Lewis in connection with a lawsuit filed by the Ransburgs in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Having failed to timely answer or appear, JLL and Lewis are in default, but the Ransburgs have assumed the burden of establishing that their lawsuit is covered by the policy. Nautilus has moved for summary judgement pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 against 231 W. Scott, LLC and the Ransburgs on Count VI of its Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”), and for default judgement pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2) and 56 against JLL and Lewis on Count VI of its SAC. For the reasons discussed below, Nautilus's motion for summary judgment and default judgment is granted.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         I. The Underlying Lawsuit

         On June 13, 2011, the Ransburgs filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois (‘Ransburg Lawsuit”), naming JLL and Lewis as defendants. An appearance was filed on behalf of JLL and Lewis in the Ransburg Lawsuit on October 11, 2011, by attorney Charles E. Pinkston. On March 24, 2015, the Ransburgs filed a Second Amended Complaint (“Ransburg SAC”) in the Ransburg Lawsuit against Lakeside Bank, JLL, Lewis, Crystal Caison, Mayer Jeffers Gillespie, and Greater Illinois Title Company. The Ransburgs SAC involved events that allegedly occurred between 2006 and 2009.

         The Ransburg SAC alleges that the Ransburgs signed an agreement with JLL on June 5, 2006, to renovate a three-story walk-up building located at 231 W. Scott Street in Chicago (the “Property”). The Ransburg SAC alleges that the renovation of the Property was defective and incomplete, resulting in damages. The Ransburg SAC further alleges that JLL and Lewis commingled funds from other projects, using money from the Ransburgs' project, and as a result “shorted” the project at the Property. In January of 2009, JLL and Lewis allegedly walked off the job, resulting in city fines, stolen materials, and an $8, 000 gas bill.

         On November 12, 2015, the trial court in the Ransburg Lawsuit entered a judgment on the jury verdict that was returned for the Ransburgs and against JLL for breach of contract. On December 4, 2015, the court found for the Ransburgs and against JLL on the Ransburgs' Illinois Consumer Fraud Act claim. The court found that JLL and Greater Illinois Title Company are jointly liable to the Ransburgs. On March 31, 2016, the court entered damages in the amount of $525, 000 and granted the Ransburgs' petition for attorney's fees in the amount of $285, 000 and costs in the amount of $1, 457.32 against JLL.

         II. The Nautilus Policy and First Notice of Loss and the Ransburg Lawsuit

         Nautilus issued a commercial general liability insurance policy to JLL for the period of May 8, 2006 to May 8, 2007 (“Policy”). The Policy contains the following notice requirements:

         SECTION IV - COMMERCIAL GENERAL LIABILITY CONDITIONS

         2. Duties In The Event Of Occurrence, Offense, Claim or Suit

a. You must see to it that we are notified as soon as practicable of an “occurrence” or an offense which may result in a claim. To the extent possible, notice should include:
(1) How, when and where the “occurrence” or offense took place;
(2) The names and addresses of any injured persons and ...

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