Stack denies summary judgment in insurance indemnity dispute; orders trial

Amelia Flood Oct. 27, 2009, 3:01am


After questioning both sides in a dispute over whether or not an insurance company should indemnify a zinc company in a 2007 lawsuit, Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack decided a trial was in order.

Stack denied summary judgment motions filed by both sides and a move for estoppel filed by plaintiff Big River Zinc Company.

"It sounds to me like there are plenty of issues of fact that need to be tried," Stack told both sides, after asking both a number of questions about the case during oral arguments Monday morning.

Stack went on to say he was not "much buying into" defendant Zurich American Insurance Company's arguments that purchase orders and a pre-existing relationship between Big River and subcontractor J.F. Electric Company weren't evidence that Big River was covered by J.F. Electric's Zurich policy.

Big River is suing Zurich over its alleged indemnity in the face of a 2003 lawsuit filed over a subcontractor's employee's injury.

Big River claims that its contract with J.F. Electric Company meant that it was covered by the subcontractor's Zurich insurance policy. That policy would have indemnified it to a claim by James Hadley, a J.F. Electric employee who was injured at Big River's Sauget plant in 2003, Big River claims.

Big River, covered by another insurer after it claims Zurich refused to honor its additional insured status, settled with Hadley and his wife, Linda, for $100,000.

Big River claims that Zurich breached the Illinois Insurance Code and its contract and seeks damages of at least $100,000. It also seeks attorneys' fees, costs, pre and post-judgment interest and a fine of up to $60,000 for Zurich.

Zurich alleges that the contract referenced by Big River did not mean it was an additional insured and that it was signed after the incident occurred.

In the end, Stack ordered a status conference in the case set for Jan. 27, 2010 at 9 a.m.

Heather Mueller-Jones of Edwardsville represents Big River.

Brian O'Gallagher of Chicago represents Zurich.

The case is Madison case number 08-L-685.

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