Illinois Federal Court Allows Consideration of Extrinsic Evidence

by Traub Lieberman Straus & Shrewsberry LLP
Contact

In its recent decision in Nautilus Ins. Co. v. Ricciardi Dev., LLC, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161244 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 9, 2012), the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois had occasion to consider when and under what circumstances an insurer can rely on facts extrinsic to a complaint in evaluating whether it has a duty to defend.
The insured, Ricciardi Development was named as a defendant an underlying suit alleging that it negligently owned and maintained an apartment building in Chicago, Illinois, where a roof porch guard rail collapsed, causing plaintiffs to fall to the ground. Among other things, it was alleged that Ricciardi has work performed on the porch rails that allowed for the accident. Notably, the complaint alleged that the accident happened on May 24, 2009, and that Ricciardi owned and renovated the building sometime prior to that date. The complaint did not allege a specific date on which such work was performed.
At the time of the accident, Ricciardi was insured under a general liability policy issued by Nautilus Insurance Company. By endorsement, the Nautilus policy excluded coverage for bodily injury resulting from Ricciardi’s work completed prior to September 11, 2008 and specifically stated that Nautilus would have no duty to defend any claim alleging bodily injury arising out of Ricciardi’s work, or work completed for Ricciardi, prior to September 11, 2008. Having learned from its own investigation that Ricciardi only owned the building only from 2000 through 2005, and thus could not have performed work subsequent to 2008, Nautilus filed suit against Ricciardi, seeking a judicial declaration that it had no duty to defend or indemnify on the basis of this exclusion.
On motion for summary judgment, the court agreed that the exclusion was clear and unambiguous, and thus applied to claims against Ricciardi involving work performed by or for it prior to September 11, 2008. The underlying suit, however, did not allege the date on which various porch repairs were performed. The court reasoned, therefore, that if it could only consider allegations contained in the underlying complaint, then Nautilus would have a duty to defend, explaining “[b]ecause September 11, 2008, the policy's cut-off date, is prior to May 24, 2009, the complaint alleges a claim that potentially could fall within the policy's coverage.” The court further reasoned, however, that if it could rely on facts extrinsic to the complaint, then there was no potential for coverage since any work Ricciardi performed with respect to the porch necessarily was completed prior to 2005 when Ricciardi sold the premises.
The court observed the general rule of Illinois law, which is that an insurer may consider only the facts alleged in the underlying complaint in determining a duty to defend. It noted, however, an exception to this rule applicable when an insurer elects to file a declaratory judgment action regarding its duty to defend. Under such circumstances, explained the court, Illinois case law generally supports the proposition that consideration of such extrinsic facts is required except when these facts are central to the determination of an issue in the underlying suit.  Looking to these cases, the court concluded that:
… this court can and must consider the undisputed extrinsic evidence set forth by Nautilus—that Ricciardi sold the property on February 22, 2005, and completed the work on the porch and guardrail before then—in determining whether Nautilus has a duty to defend  Ricciardi and Development. There is no basis for concern that considering this evidence would "tend[] to determine an issue crucial to the determination of the underlying [state court] lawsuit." … Indeed, the opposing sides in the underlying suit unanimously agree in this case that Ricciardi sold the property in February 2005 or, at a minimum, that he did not own the property as of September 11, 2008. … If that fact were contested in or significant to the underlying suit, the opposing sides in that suit would not have agreed on that fact here.
Thus, concluding that consideration of extrinsic facts was permissible and that these facts were dispositive of the policy’s exclusion, the court agreed that Nautilus had no duty to defend.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Traub Lieberman Straus & Shrewsberry LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Traub Lieberman Straus & Shrewsberry LLP
Contact
more
less

Traub Lieberman Straus & Shrewsberry LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.