Illinois State Bar Association Mutual Insurance Co. on Dec. 13 filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit Hamel attorney Thomas Burkart filed against the insurer in October.
In his suit, Burkart claims ISBA Mutual Insurance Company has refused to pay defense costs he has incurred in a suit against him by former clients Robert and Elizabeth Wilson.
In their lawsuit, the Wilsons claim Burkart helped them to win a $30,000 verdict in their favor. However, the Wilsons say Burkart improperly withdrew part of the proceeds from the Bank of Edwardsville.
According to Burkart's suit, when he learned of the Wilsons' lawsuit, he immediately notified ISBA, which initially agreed to pay for defense costs, Burkart claims. However, ISBA later filed for declaratory judgment, asking the court for permission to end its obligation to pay the defense costs, Burkart claims.
In its motion to dismiss, ISBA Mutual argues that litigation initiated by Burkart involves the same parties as litigation first initiated by ISBA Mutual in Sangamon County, and that the litigation in Sangamon County also has the same cause of action.
“The law of Illinois will apply to this dispute in Sangamon County, just as it would here in Madison County," the motion states. "And litigation in Sangamon County is no more convenient to ISBA Mutual, which is a resident of Cook County. The parties will be on equal footing in Sangamon County."
ISBA Mutual also claims Burkart failed to adequately plead a cause of action.
“Under Illinois law, Burkart will bear the burden of showing that the agreed choice of forum is unduly burdensome or inconvenient," the motion states. "This he cannot do."
In Burkart's complaint, he seeks a declaratory judgment that requires the ISBA to defend him and that says the ISBA cannot reject the selection of Burkart’s counsel. He also seeks a judgment that any clause within the policy to the contrary violates law and is void.
Burkart is representing himself.
Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis on Oct. 19 assigned Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth to the case.
Stephen Mudge of Reed, Armstrong, Gorman, Mudge and Morrissey announced his representation of ISBA Mutual Insurance Company on Dec. 13.
Robert Marc Chemers and Peter Syregelas of Pretzel & Stouffer, Chartered in Chicago also announced their representation of ISBA Mutual on Dec. 13.
Madison County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-1693.