A former St. Jacob mayor’s lawsuit alleging defamation has a case management conference scheduled for early next month after several orders continuing litigation.
On Jan. 17, Gleeson entered an order scheduling a case management conference for April 3 at 9 a.m.
He wrote that motions for summary judgement in an ancillary federal declaratory judgment action are now pending and awaiting ruling by the federal court.
Defendant Patricia Beil filed a claim on Feb. 26, 2016, in the St. Clair County Circuit Court against her homeowner’s insurance carrier, AMCO Insurance Company, to invoke defense coverage. The case was removed to federal court on March 30, 2016.
“An actual controversy has arisen between the parties regarding their respective rights and obligations under the insurance policy and whether the policy provides Plaintiff’s defense and coverage for the injuries/damages alleged in the lawsuit,” the federal suit states.
Beil states in her complaint that AMCO contends that it does not have a duty to defend or indemnify. Beil disagrees.
She seeks a judgment declaring the rights and obligations of each of the parties with regard to the dispute, declaring that there is coverage under the insurance policy in connection with the claims made in the lawsuit and declaring that AMCO has an obligation to defend and indemnify Beil.
Amco filed a motion for summary judgment on Oct. 3 through attorney William Schramm III of Cassiday Schade LLP in Chicago.
It argues that counts I and III of plaintiff Raymond Muniz’s lawsuit are excluded under the “business” pursuits exclusion and under the “civic or public activities performed for pay” exclusion and count II does not allege “bodily injury” caused by an “occurrence.”
“Therefore, AMCO has no duty to defend or indemnify Beil in connection with the Muniz lawsuit.
The motion has yet to be ruled upon.
Muniz filed his lawsuit against Beil on Oct. 26.
According to his complaint, Muniz served as mayor of St. Jacob from May 2001 to May 2013 and is currently a private citizen. He alleges Beil, who is currently an elected trustee of St. Jacob, gave false and defamatory statements about Muniz to the Belleville-News Democrat.
Muniz alleges the newspaper published an article on Oct. 24, 2014, containing Beil’s statements and her call for a criminal investigation of Muniz, alleging “financial improprieties.”
Beil’s statements were based on a July 2014 report provided to St. Jacob by an outside accounting firm, which she represented to be a “forensic audit,” the suit states.
Muniz alleges the report, which was intended only for St. Jacob’s use, was incomplete and misleading, as it characterized several financial transactions as “questionable,” relied upon unsubstantiated remarks from an anonymous village resident and never suggested any criminal activity or actionable wrongdoing by any party.
Muniz further alleges Beil should have known the questionable checks and/or expenditures had been approved, and that she was present for votes concerning some of the expenditures.
Muniz alleges Beil was asked why the audit had not been turned over to Illinois States Attorney Tom Gibbons.
She responded, “I wanted to get it in the newspaper first,” the suit states.
Muniz is represented by Marleen Suarez of Suarez Law Office in Collinsville.
Beil is represented by Michael Garavalia of Flynn Guymon & Garavalia in Belleville.
St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 15-L-606