The Fifth District Appellate Court has reversed and remanded a medical malpractice insurance dispute arising from St. Clair County with instructions to grant summary judgment to Chicago Insurance.
In a Rule 23 decision posted Dec. 12, the appellate court found that Chicago Insurance should not be liable for $98,694.64 in costs to defend Belleville obstetrician John Hucker in a lawsuit that alleged he committed malpractice in March 2000.
Plaintiff Illinois Insurance Guaranty Fund filed a declaratory judgment action against Chicago Insurance for the court to determine whether a "claims-made" insurance policy issued to Women's Care of Southern Illinois, P.C. for claims made between July 1, 2001 through July 1, 2002, provided insurance coverage for a former employee.
Hucker's employment with Women's Care ended on Dec. 31, 2000, and he was not expressly named as an insured in the claims-made policy that was issued by Chicago Insurance after the employment relationship ended.
The dispute stemmed from a separate lawsuit for medical malpractice filed against Women's Care and Hucker on Jan. 22, 2002, during the effective date of coverage of the claims-made policy.
According to the order, both Illinois Insurance Guaranty Fund and Chicago Insurance filed cross-motions for summary judgment on the issue of Chicago Insurance's duty to defend Hucker in the malpractice lawsuit.
The circuit court ruled in favor of Illinois Insurance Guaranty Fund and found that Chicago Insurance was obligated to pay for Hucker's defense against the malpractice claim.
Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn presides.
Justice Bruce Stewart authored the order, with Justices Thomas Welch and Richard Goldenhersh concurring.
"[T]he record on appeal establishes that Chicago Insurance did not have a duty to defend Dr. Hucker and, therefore, is entitled to judgment as a matter of law," Stewart wrote. "As a result, the circuit court erred as a matter of law in denying Chicago Insurance's motion for summary judgment and in granting the Fund's motion."
The justices weighed whether Hucker qualified as an insured under the language of the policy at issue.
"He was no longer an employee of Women's Care when Women's Care applied for and obtained the claims-made policy," the order states.
"Dr. Hucker's employment agreement with Women's Care did not require it to continue to provide claims-made coverage after the employment relationship ended. Instead, the agreement required Dr. Hucker to obtain his own insurance and provide Women's Care with proof that he had obtained such coverage."