Summary judgment for Pizza Man reversed at Fifth District

Ann Maher Apr. 5, 2012, 5:39am



Justices at the Fifth District Appellate Court have reversed a Madison County summary judgment ruling for defendant Pizza Man, which had been sued over a delivery driver's accident in Glen Carbon in 2007.

Plaintiff David Ahle claimed pizza delivery driver Michael Whitelaw caused a collision that resulted in his serious injuries.

Shortly before filing suit in August 2009 against Dennis Chandler, doing business as Pizza Man, Ahle had settled a claim with Whitelaw's insurer Allstate for $100,000.

Presiding Circuit Judge Ann Callis granted Pizza Man owner Dennis Chandler's motion for summary judgment in which he argued that plaintiff's settlement with Whitelaw extinguished liability against him.

Justice Richard Goldenhersh wrote that plaintiff attorney Christopher Donohoo added language on the release Ahle signed with Allstate, "Excluding Pizza Man, Dennis Chandler," in an attempt to ensure that in signing the release Ahle was in no way relinquishing his rights to any claim against Chandler, doing business as Pizza Man.

"Under this factual scenario, we conclude there is absolutely a genuine issue of material fact better left for the trier of fact, and, thus, the trial court erred in entering summary judgment in favor of defendant," Goldenhersh wrote.

Justice Bruce Stewart concurred in the case which has been remanded to Madison County for further proceedings.

Justice Stephen Spomer dissented.

"At the time the plaintiff executed the release of Michael Whitelaw, it was clearly the long-standing law in Illinois that a settlement between a plaintiff and an agent extinguishes, by operation of law, any claim that the plaintiff has against the principal under a theory of vicarious liability, regardless of whether the release of the agent expressly reserves the plaintiff's right to seek recovery from the principal," Spomer wrote.

Donohoo had no longer represented Ahle at the time of appeal. A.J. Bronsky of Brown & James and Thomas Q. Keefe, Jr. of Belleville currently represent Ahle.

Chandler is represented by Michael J. Bedesky of Reed, Amstrong, Gorman, Mudge & Morrissey in Edwardsville.

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