News & Events

Skarzynski Marick Obtains Judgment on the Pleadings in Dispute between Insurers over Related Claims

February 20, 2019
Skarzynski Marick & Black LLP successfully defended an employment practices liability insurer in litigation over coverage for a police officer’s discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. Skarzynski Marick persuaded Judge Sanjay Tailor of Cook County Chancery Court to enter judgment on the pleadings for the client, Allied World National Assurance Company, on February 20, 2019.
 
Allied World insured an Illinois village under an employment practices liability insurance policy. After the village fired a police officer in 2012, the officer sued the village for unlawful retaliation and violation of due process. Allied World defended that lawsuit and paid the resulting settlement. The village reinstated the officer as part of that settlement, but eventually fired him again in 2016. He sued again, alleging race discrimination, retaliation, and various harassing activity by the village and its police chief. The village’s 2016 insurer, Stratford Insurance Company, defended and settled the second lawsuit. Stratford then sued Allied World, arguing that the second lawsuit related back to the first and therefore was Allied World’s responsibility.
 
On behalf of Allied World, Skarzynski Marick moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing, first, that the two claims were not related, and, second, if they were related, they would relate back to a claims-made date before Allied World’s policy period because the police officer had filed a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that predated the policy. Judge Tailor noted that whether the lawsuits were related claims was a close question, but one he did not need to decide because he was persuaded by Allied World’s second argument: the 2012 lawsuit’s claims-made date preceded Allied World’s policy period and therefore, even if the 2016 lawsuit related back to the 2012 lawsuit, it would not come within Allied World’s coverage. In so ruling, Judge Tailor rejected Stratford’s arguments that the 2012 EEOC charge and lawsuit were not related claims, and that Allied World waived its argument when it defended and settled the 2012 lawsuit.
 
Skarzynski Marick attorney Joel Vander Vliet argued the motion, and John Black and Heidi Kuffel also represented the client in this matter.