Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Sixth Division
ILLINOIS STATE BAR ASSOCIATION MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff-Appellee,
MICHAEL D. CANULLI, Defendant-Appellant.
from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Nos. 11 CH 5420 12 CH
12834 (cons.) Honorable Peter Flynn, Judge Presiding.
Attorneys for Appellant: Michael D. Canulli, of Naperville,
appellant pro se.
Attorneys for Appellee Robert Marc Chemers and Scott L.
Howie, of Pretzel & Stouffer Chtrd., of Chicago, for
JUSTICE CUNNINGHAM delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Connors and Harris concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Defendant-appellant Michael D. Canulli challenges the
circuit court of Cook County's entry of judgment in favor
of plaintiff-appellee Illinois State Bar Association Mutual
Insurance Company (ISBA Mutual) in its declaratory judgment
action. Finding that Canulli failed to file a timely notice
of appeal, we dismiss his appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
3 ISBA Mutual issued a policy of professional liability
insurance to Canulli, an attorney, beginning in June 2009. At
some point thereafter, Canulli began representing Maria Freda
in her divorce from her husband, Michael Maude. During the
course of that litigation, Canulli, on Freda's behalf,
filed a third-party complaint against a number of individuals
and entities referred to collectively as "Prairie
4 On May 12, 2010, Prairie State moved for sanctions against
Canulli and Freda, alleging that the suit against it was not
well grounded in fact or law and was instead intended solely
to harass Prairie State. Canulli requested ISBA Mutual to
defend him against the sanctions motion, but ISBA Mutual
rejected his tender. In February 2011, ISBA Mutual filed a
complaint (case number 11 CH 5420), seeking a declaratory
judgment that it did not owe Canulli a duty to defend.
5 Three months later, in May 2011, Freda sued Canulli for
malpractice. This time, ISBA Mutual accepted the tender of
defense and retained counsel to defend Canulli. However, when
Freda later amended her complaint to seek only a reduction in
legal fees, ISBA Mutual withdrew its tender and filed a
separate declaratory judgment action against Canulli (case
number 12 CH 12834), seeking a finding that it owed no duty
to defend Canulli against the legal malpractice complaint.
Over ISBA Mutual's objection, the two declaratory
judgment actions were consolidated.
6 In April 2014, the circuit court ruled on the parties'
cross motions for summary judgment in both actions. With
respect to the declaratory judgment action regarding the
sanctions motion, which ISBA Mutual filed against Canulli,
the court found that ISBA Mutual had no duty to defend
Canulli against the motion, but the court declined to enter
summary judgment in ISBA Mutual's favor in order to allow
additional briefing on the issue of whether ISBA Mutual had
waived, or was estopped from, denying its duty to defend.
7 Four years later, on April 24, 2018, the circuit court,
having been fully briefed, granted ISBA Mutual's motion
for summary judgment in its declaratory judgment action
against Canulli regarding the sanctions motion. The circuit court
declined to reach the issues of waiver and estoppel because,
in the intervening years, Prairie State and Canulli had
settled the sanctions dispute and Canulli owed nothing in
connection with the settlement. Significantly, the court did
not enter judgment on ISBA Mutual's declaratory
judgment action against Canulli regarding the legal
malpractice complaint. Accordingly, in its ruling, the court
stated that there was "no reason to delay enforcement of
or appeal from (assuming such an appeal is possible)"
its judgment in favor of ISBA Mutual with regard to its duty
to defend Canulli against the sanctions motion.
8 On November 16, 2018, Canulli moved to reconsider the
court's judgment. ISBA Mutual moved to strike his motion
as untimely, and on December 17, 2018, the circuit court of
Cook County denied Canulli's motion to ...