FindLaw's Appellate Court of Illinois case and opinions. (2023)

Appellate Court of Illinois,First District, Third Division.

NORTHBROOK PROPERTY & CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. APPLIED SYSTEMS, INC., Defendant-Appellant (Harbor Software, Inc., Defendant).

No. 1-98-1170.

Decided: May 17, 2000

Johnson and Bell, Chicago (Thomas H. Fegan, of counsel), for Appellant. Hinshaw & Culbertson, Chicago (Fritz K. Huszagh;  Ilene S. Grant and Christine L. Olson, of counsel), for Appellee.

In this declaratory judgment action, defendant, Applied Systems, Inc. (Applied), appeals the order of the circuit court entering summary judgment in favor of plaintiff, Northbrook Property & Casualty Insurance Company (Northbrook), on the ground that Northbrook had no duty under either of two commercial liability insurance policies to defend or indemnify Applied in a federal lawsuit filed against it by Harbor Software, Inc. (Harbor).  The primary issue before us is whether Applied provided Northbrook with timely notification of the Harbor litigation under the policies as a matter of law.   We have jurisdiction of the case pursuant to Supreme Court Rules 301 and 303 (155 Ill.2d R. 301, 303), and for the following reasons we affirm.


Applied and Harbor are each businesses engaged in the area of developing and marketing computer software programs to the insurance industry.   In the 1980s, Harbor's principal product was an automated management system developed for insurance agencies known as “Sales Center Manager” (“Sales Manager”).   At the same time, Applied marketed a similar, but somewhat less advanced, product called “Agency Manager.”

On November 5, 1992, Harbor filed a six-count complaint against Applied in the federal district court of New York alleging claims for copyright infringement, violations of the Latham Trade-Mark Act (15 U.S.C.A. §§ 1051 et seq.), fraud, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition and unjust enrichment.   A copy of Harbor's complaint was served upon and received by Applied's corporate counsel, Mark Camasta, on the same date.

According to the complaint's allegations, Applied contacted Jeffrey Tollaksen, the co-founder of Harbor, in late 1988 to express Applied's interest in either acquiring or licensing the Sales Manager software.   Following a meeting between Applied and Harbor associates in January 1989, at which Tollaksen demonstrated the Sales Manager program under Applied's assurances of confidentiality, the parties commenced negotiations regarding the formulation of an agreement that would grant Applied the exclusive licensing rights to Sales Manager.

During the negotiation period, Tollaksen completed, at the request of Applied, a successful integration of Sales Manager with Agency Manager, so as to allow the two programs to operate together.   Once the integration of the two programs was complete, Applied abruptly ended negotiations regarding the exclusive licensing agreement and informed Harbor it was no longer interested in marketing the Sales Manager program.

Shortly thereafter, Applied offered a new version of Agency Manager which allegedly performed substantially all of the automated marketing functions of Sales Manager, as well as many other program features.   Applied allegedly copied the Sales Manager software and integrated it with the old version of Agency Manager.   According to the complaint, Applied “never intended to enter into an exclusive licensing agreement with * * * [it], but instead sought to learn * * * [its] trade secrets, to steal the source code for the [Sales Manager] Program, to fraudulently enlist Mr. Tollaksen's services in adapting the [Sales Manager] Program for Agency Manager, and to unfairly compete with” it.   The complaint explains that Harbor first discovered Applied's wrongful conduct when Tollaksen saw an advertisement in an industry publication announcing the new version of Agency Manager.

At the time Harbor filed its lawsuit, Applied was insured under a commercial general liability insurance policy (“CGL Policy”) and a commercial Excess/Umbrella liability insurance policy (“Excess/Umbrella Policy”) (collectively referred herein at times as the “policies”), both issued by Northbrook.   Each policy had an effective coverage period of April 1, 1992 to April 1, 1993.

Coverage B of the CGL Policy, entitled “Personal and Advertising Injury Liability”, requires Northbrook in part to “pay those sums that * * * [Applied] becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of * * * advertising injury to which this insurance applies,” and further “to defend any suit seeking those damages.”   Coverage B specifically provides coverage for “ advertising injury caused by an offense committed in the course of advertising [Applied's] goods, products or services” during the policy period.

The Excess/Umbrella Policy contains two coverage forms, Coverage A and Coverage B. Coverage A, which is entitled “Excess Liability Over Underlying Insurance,” provides liability coverage over the limits provided in applicable underlying insurance as listed in the underlying insurance schedule, and is subject to all the terms and conditions of the underlying policy.1

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Under Coverage B, entitled “Umbrella Liability Over the Retained Limit or Insurance Not Listed in the Schedule of Underlying Insurance,” umbrella coverage is provided over the amount in which Applied is self-insured or the limits of insurance not listed in the underlying insurance schedule.   The record does not disclose if any other underlying insurance is applicable, but it does reveal that Applied has a retained limit of $10,000.

Per this coverage provision, Northbrook is required to pay those sums Applied “becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of injury in excess of the retained limit * * * or any insurance not specified as underlying insurance, whichever is greater, caused by an occurrence during the policy period [.]”  Northbrook is further obligated to “investigate and defend any claim or suit alleging damages insured by Coverages A and/or B” provided no other insurer is obliged to undertake such an investigation or defense.   The term “injury” as used in Coverage B specifically includes “advertising injury.”

Both polices contain a “Conditions” section which discusses, inter alia, the insured's duties in the event of an occurrence, claim or suit.   The CGL Policy provides in relevant part:

“b. If a claim is made or suit is brought against any insured, [Applied] must:

  * * *

(2) Notify [Northbrook] as soon as practicable.

[Applied] must see to it that [Northbrook] receive written notice of the claim or suit as soon as practicable.

c. [Applied] and any other involved insured must:

(1) Immediately send [Northbrook] copies of any demands, notices, summonses or legal papers received in connection with the claim or suit.”

The Excess/Umbrella Policy imposes similar duties upon Applied, providing:

“b. If a claim is received by any insured, [Applied] must:

  * * *

(2) Notify [Northbrook] as soon as practicable.

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[Applied] must see to it that [Northbrook] receive written notice of the claim as soon as practicable.

c. [Applied] and any other involved insured must:

(1) Immediately send [Northbrook] copies of any demands, notices, summonses or legal papers received in connection with the claim or suit.”

The term “suit” is defined by the CGL Policy, in part, as “a civil proceeding in which damages because of * * * advertising injury to which this insurance applies are alleged.”   The Excess/Umbrella Policy similarly defines “suit” to mean “a civil proceeding in which damages because of injury to which this insurance applies are alleged.”

As part of the discovery process in the underlying litigation, Applied was served with a “Third Set of Document Requests” by Harbor on December 15, 1993.   In this document, Harbor requested Applied to produce, inter alia, “all documents used in connection or intended to be used in connection with the marketing of the [upgraded version of Agency Manager].”

Approximately four months after its receipt of Harbor's third document request, in late March 1994, Applied tendered its defense in the Harbor litigation by sending notice of the case to its insurance agent, the Lambrecht Agency.   Applied specifically sent the agency a statement prepared by Camasta describing Applied's understanding of the coverage afforded under Coverage B of the CGL Policy in relation to the Harbor lawsuit.   Camasta explains, both in Applied's statement and in an affidavit filed in connection with Northbrook's summary judgment motion, that Applied did not believe from the averments of the Harbor complaint that Harbor sought damages for any alleged advertising injury caused by the marketing of the new Agency Manager software.   According to Camasta, he “assumed” coverage was unavailable because the claims asserted in Harbor's complaint resembled intentional tortious conduct, which he believed was excluded under the policies.   Camasta did not base his assumption on any particular provision in the policies, but rather on his understanding from studies in law school.   Camasta further explains Applied never evaluated the Harbor complaint to assess whether coverage was afforded by the policies because the advertising injury provisions therein were, in his words, “beyond our comprehension.”

Camasta maintains Applied understood for the first time that Harbor may pursue an advertising injury claim in December 1993 when it received Harbor's request for the upgraded program's marketing materials.   Shortly thereafter, Camasta explains he reviewed some legal materials discussing advertising injury coverage.   Following his own investigation and research of the subject, Camasta believed Northbrook may be obliged under the CGL Policy to defend Applied in the Harbor litigation and to pay any resulting damages.   Camasta's statement to the Lambrecht Agency makes no demand for a defense or indemnification under the Excess/Umbrella Policy.

The Lambrecht Agency advised Northbrook of Applied's tender of defense on April 6, 1994.   In response, Northbrook informed Applied by letter dated April 22, 1994 that, for various reasons including the late notification of the Harbor suit, it was disclaiming any coverage under the CGL Policy.   Northbrook's letter does not disclaim its duties under the Excess/Umbrella Policy.

On March 2, 1995, Northbrook filed the instant declaratory judgment action against Applied and Harbor, as a necessary party, seeking a determination of its duties under the policies.   In particular, Northbrook sought a judicial declaration that it had no duty to defend or indemnify Applied in the Harbor litigation under either the CGL or Excess/ Umbrella policies.   Northbrook specifically asserted, inter alia, that Applied failed to provide timely notice of Harbor's lawsuit and, consequently, forfeited any claims of coverage under the policies.

During the pendency of Northbrook's declaratory judgment action, the Harbor case proceeded to trial in mid 1996, and in October of that year, a federal jury found that Applied had wilfully and maliciously misappropriated certain Harbor trade secrets contained in the Sales Manager program.   A verdict was entered in favor of Harbor and against Applied in the total amount of $5 million.

In April 1997, Northbrook successfully moved for summary judgment pursuant to section 2-1005 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-1005 (West 1996)), and Applied's timely appeal followed.


The purpose of summary judgment under section 2-1005 of the Code is to determine whether there exists any genuine issues of material facts between the parties.  Hubble v. O'Connor, 291 Ill.App.3d 974, 979, 225 Ill.Dec. 825, 684 N.E.2d 816, 820 (1997).   Summary judgment is appropriate where the pleadings, depositions, and admissions on file, together with any affidavits, present no genuine issue of material fact and show that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.   735 ILCS 5/2-1005(c) (West 1998);  Hartford Accident and Indemnity Co. v. Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, 231 Ill.App.3d 143, 147, 172 Ill.Dec. 641, 595 N.E.2d 1311, 1313 (1992).   Our review of an order granting summary judgment is conducted de novo (John Deere Insurance Company v. Allstate Insurance Company, 298 Ill.App.3d 371, 376, 232 Ill.Dec. 544, 698 N.E.2d 635, 639 (1998)), and we will construe all pleadings, depositions and affidavits in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party.  Soderlund Brothers, Inc. v. Carrier Corp., 278 Ill.App.3d 606, 614, 215 Ill.Dec. 251, 663 N.E.2d 1, 7 (1995).

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 In its summary judgment motion, Northbrook argues in part that it has been relieved of any contractual duties to provide Applied with defense costs and indemnification of the Harbor jury's verdict by Applied's failure to give it timely notice of Harbor's complaint.   As the record shows, Harbor filed its action against Applied on November 5, 1992, and Applied's in-house counsel received notice of the complaint on the same date.   Yet, Applied waited until April 1994 to advise Northbrook of the Harbor suit, seventeen months after the underlying complaint was served.

 We initially note that Applied, in giving notice to Northbrook, only tendered a defense under the CGL Policy, and did not specifically reference coverage under the Excess/Umbrella Policy.   Notwithstanding, Applied's notice was applicable under both polices because notice by an insured to its insurance company is sufficient to charge the insurer on all policies running in the insured's favor.   See Casualty Ins. Co. v. E.W. Corrigan Construction Co., 247 Ill.App.3d 326, 332-33, 187 Ill.Dec. 20, 617 N.E.2d 228, 233 (1993) (stating foregoing rule with regard to notice of occurrence, and holding there “if an insured notifies its insurer of an occurrence and references its workers' compensation policy, it should be considered notice in regards to any general liability policy the insured might have with the same insurer”).

 An insured's duties are controlled by the terms and conditions of its insurance contract.  American Country Ins. Co. v. Bruhn, 289 Ill.App.3d 241, 247, 224 Ill.Dec. 805, 682 N.E.2d 366, 370 (1997).   A notice of suit provision in an insurance liability policy is not a mere technical requirement for the convenience of the insurer, but is a valid condition precedent to the triggering of the insurer's contractual duties.  Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co. of Illinois v. Allsteel, Inc., 304 Ill.App.3d 34, 40, 237 Ill.Dec. 425, 709 N.E.2d 680, 685 (1999);  Cincinnati Ins. Co. v. Baur's Opera House, 296 Ill.App.3d 1011, 1015, 230 Ill.Dec. 624, 694 N.E.2d 593, 596 (1998).   Where the insured fails to comply with a notice provision, the insurer will be relieved from its duties to defend and indemnify under the policy.   See American Family Mutual Ins. Co. v. Blackburn, 208 Ill.App.3d 281, 291, 153 Ill.Dec. 39, 566 N.E.2d 889, 896 (1991);  Casualty Indemnity Exchange v. Village of Crete, 731 F.2d 457, 460 (1984);  INA Ins. Co. of Illinois v. City of Chicago, 62 Ill.App.3d 80, 85, 19 Ill.Dec. 519, 379 N.E.2d 34, 38 (1978).

 A notice of suit requirement in a policy serves the purpose of enabling the insurer to conduct a timely and thorough investigation of the insured's claim (See American States Ins. Co. v. National Cycle, Inc., 260 Ill.App.3d 299, 310-11, 197 Ill.Dec. 833, 631 N.E.2d 1292, 1300 (1994)), as well as to locate and participate in the defense of the insured.  Baur's Opera House, 296 Ill.App.3d at 1018, 230 Ill.Dec. 624, 694 N.E.2d at 598;  see also Couch on Insurance § 199:84, at 199-140 (3rd ed.1999) (notice of suit provision is to aid the insurer in the discovery of facts bearing on coverage and to afford it an opportunity to control the litigation).

 The notice provisions contained in the policies here are nearly identical, requiring Applied to give Northbrook notice of Harbor's suit “as soon as practicable.” 2  Under Illinois law, a provision calling for the insured to provide notice of a suit “as soon as practicable” requires notification be made within a reasonable time.  State Security Insurance Co. v. Burgos, 145 Ill.2d 423, 431, 164 Ill.Dec. 631, 583 N.E.2d 547, 551 (1991).   Whether an insured's notice was given in a reasonable time generally depends on the facts and circumstances of the particular case.  Burgos, 145 Ill.2d at 431, 164 Ill.Dec. 631, 583 N.E.2d at 551.

 The law expects an insured to act diligently when providing notice of a suit to its insurer (See Twin City Fire Ins. Co. v. Old World Trading Co., 266 Ill.App.3d 1, 7, 203 Ill.Dec. 264, 639 N.E.2d 584, 588 (1993);  Illinois Valley Minerals Corp. v. Royal-Globe Ins. Co., 70 Ill.App.3d 296, 299, 26 Ill.Dec. 629, 388 N.E.2d 253, 255-56 (1979)), and while this determination is typically a question of fact, it may be properly resolved as a matter of law where, as here, the material facts are not in dispute.  Jones v. Universal Casualty Co., 257 Ill.App.3d 842, 853, 196 Ill.Dec. 397, 630 N.E.2d 94, 102 (1994).

We note the majority of published decisions considering the reasonableness of an insured's notice involve alleged late notices of an “occurrence” or accident, and very few reported cases have addressed the reasonableness of an insured's notice of suit.   A review of these cases reveals that, regardless of the type of notice involved, the courts generally apply the same legal principles in their analyses.

 A lengthy passage of time in notification is not an absolute bar to a claim of defense and indemnity under a policy, provided the facts and circumstances show that the insured's delay was justifiable.  American Country Ins. Co. v. Efficient Construction Corp., 225 Ill.App.3d 177, 181, 167 Ill.Dec. 458, 587 N.E.2d 1073, 1075 (1992);  McFarlane v. Merit Ins. Co., 58 Ill.App.3d 616, 619, 16 Ill.Dec. 176, 374 N.E.2d 951, 953 (1978).   Of primary importance in this regard is the insured's reason for not providing notice within the period of delay at issue.  Efficient Construction, 225 Ill.App.3d at 181, 167 Ill.Dec. 458, 587 N.E.2d at 1075;  McFarlane, 58 Ill.App.3d at 619, 16 Ill.Dec. 176, 374 N.E.2d at 953;  Rivota v. Kaplan, 49 Ill.App.3d 910, 7 Ill.Dec. 176, 364 N.E.2d 337, 345 (1977);  see also Couch on Insurance, § 199:18, at 199-174 (3rd ed.1999).   Absent a valid excuse, the insured's failure to satisfy the notice requirement will generally absolve the insurer of its duties under the policy.

 In assessing the validity of an insured's excuse, several factors are considered, including:  (1) the specific language of the policy's notice provision;  (2) the degree of the insured's sophistication in the world of commerce and insurance;  (3) the insured's awareness that a “lawsuit” as defined under the terms of the policy has taken place;  and (4) once this awareness arises, the insured's diligence and reasonable care in ascertaining whether policy coverage is available.  Amerisure Ins. Co. v. Laserage Technology Corp., 2 F.Supp.2d 296, 305 (W.D.N.Y.1998) (applying Illinois law);  Ankus v. Government Employees Ins. Co., 285 Ill.App.3d 819, 825, 221 Ill.Dec. 72, 674 N.E.2d 865, 870 (1996);  Baur's Opera House, 296 Ill.App.3d at 1017, 230 Ill.Dec. 624, 694 N.E.2d at 597.

 In addition to assessing the soundness of the proffered reason, consideration in most cases is given to whether the insured's delay prejudiced the insurer.   The general rule in notice cases is that the insurer need not prove prejudice (Bruhn, 289 Ill.App.3d at 247, 224 Ill.Dec. 805, 682 N.E.2d at 370;  Kerr v. Illinois Central Railroad Co., 283 Ill.App.3d 574, 584, 219 Ill.Dec. 81, 670 N.E.2d 759, 767 (1996);  Ankus, 285 Ill.App.3d at 826, 221 Ill.Dec. 72, 674 N.E.2d at 870), since the controlling issue is not whether the insurer's interests have been compromised by the insured's inaction but only whether reasonable notice has been given.  Mitchell Buick & Oldsmobile Sales, Inc. v. National Dealer Services, Inc., 138 Ill.App.3d 574, 581, 93 Ill.Dec. 71, 485 N.E.2d 1281, 1286 (1985);  City of Chicago v. U.S. Fire Ins. Co., 124 Ill.App.2d 340, 347, 260 N.E.2d 276, 280 (1970).   Prejudice is merely a factor in assessing the reasonableness of the notice.  Bruhn, 289 Ill.App.3d at 247, 224 Ill.Dec. 805, 682 N.E.2d at 370;  Ankus, 285 Ill.App.3d at 826, 221 Ill.Dec. 72, 674 N.E.2d at 870;  American Country Ins. Co. v. Cash, 171 Ill.App.3d 9, 10, 120 Ill.Dec. 834, 524 N.E.2d 1016, 1017;  Illinois Valley Minerals, 70 Ill.App.3d at 302, 26 Ill.Dec. 629, 388 N.E.2d at 255;  contra Illinois Founders Ins. Co. v. Barnett, 304 Ill.App.3d 602, 611, 237 Ill.Dec. 605, 710 N.E.2d 28, 35 (1999) (“[w]hen notice of the lawsuit is at issue, the rule is that the insurer is required to show that it was prejudiced by the insured's omission or delay in order to escape liability on its policy,” quoting Rice v. AAA Aerostar, Inc., 294 Ill.App.3d 801, 807-08, 229 Ill.Dec. 20, 690 N.E.2d 1067, 1072 (1998));  Baur's Opera House, 296 Ill.App.3d at 1017-18, 230 Ill.Dec. 624, 694 N.E.2d at 598 (stating same rule but also indicating that prejudice may be considered as a “factor” in the reasonableness analysis).3

 In the present matter, Applied maintains its 17-month delay in notifying Northbrook of the Harbor suit was reasonable since it justifiably believed that coverage was not afforded under the terms of its policies.   Courts have recognized that an insured's belief of non-coverage under a policy may be an acceptable excuse where the insured, acting as a reasonably prudent person, believed the occurrence or lawsuit was not covered by the policy.   Farmers Auto. Ins. Ass'n v. Hamilton, 64 Ill.2d 138, 142, 355 N.E.2d 1, 3 (1976) (notice of occurrence);  Amerisure, 2 F.Supp.2d at 305 (notice of suit);  Ankus, 285 Ill.App.3d at 826, 221 Ill.Dec. 72, 674 N.E.2d at 870 (notice of occurrence).   Before a belief of non-coverage will be accepted, the law is clear that the insured must have acted as a reasonable person would have acted under the circumstances.

 We find Applied's belief that coverage was not available under the policies to be unreasonable as a matter of law.   The policies do not mandate Applied to give notice of every lawsuit that is filed against it, but only those suits that fall within the definition of that term, namely any civil proceeding in which damages because of advertising injury to which the insurance applies is alleged.   An insured, in deciding whether to provide notice to Northbrook, must necessarily evaluate the third-party's complaint in light of the policy provisions to ascertain whether advertising injury coverage is implicated so as to require notice of the suit.   Applied accordingly should have reviewed the policies and Harbor's complaint together.   Yet, Applied did not do so because, according to its general counsel, it did not understand the coverage it procured.

Applied, a corporation engaged in the business of developing computer software for the insurance industry, having obtained more than one commercial liability policy, and retaining in-house and outside counsel who could have made a coverage evaluation, was not an unsophisticated insured.   By failing to review the policies and the complaint together to determine whether advertising injury coverage was implicated, Applied, and specifically Camasta as general counsel, failed to act like a reasonably prudent insured under the circumstances.   A reasonable insured's attorney would have examined the complaint and relevant policy provisions to gauge the applicability of coverage rather than “assuming,” as Camasta did, that coverage was excluded.   A reasonable insured additionally would not have simply concluded that the advertising injury coverage was uncomprehensible.   If Camasta did indeed find the policies too complicated to understand, he could have easily conferred with someone knowledgeable in the subject within a reasonable time period to determine if notice and a tender of defense should have been given to Northbrook.

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We find the decision in Amerisure supportive of our finding here that Applied's excuse was unjustified.   In that case, the insureds, Laserage Technology Corporation (Laserage) and Ciron Technologies Corporation (Ciron), each corporate entities, were covered under commercial general insurance liability policies issued by Amerisure Insurance Company (Amerisure) and Michigan Mutual Insurance Company (Michigan Mutual).   These policies provided coverage in part for advertising injury.   In July 1995, Laserage and Ciron were sued for various statutory and common law offenses, including trade secret misappropriation and patent infringement, allegedly committed during the effective coverage periods of the insurers' policies.

The policies at issue contained notice provisions identical to those contained in the Northbrook policies, requiring notification of any suit “as soon as practicable.”   Laserage and Ciron both waited eight months before advising Amerisure and Michigan Mutual about the underlying litigation.   According to the record, the insureds' sole reason for the delay was their belief that coverage was not afforded under the policies.   Notably, neither Laserage nor Ciron reviewed their policies before believing coverage was not available.   Amerisure and Michigan Mutual ultimately filed for declaratory judgment in the federal district court of New York seeking a determination of their duties under their respective policies.

The court, applying Illinois law, held that the belief of non-coverage shared by Laserage and Ciron was unjustified.   Amerisure, 2 F.Supp.2d at 305.   After discussing the clear wording of the policies' language and the insureds' sophistication in the area of commerce and insurance, the court concluded Laserage and Ciron “clearly failed to exercise due diligence in ascertaining whether coverage was available, as evidenced by the fact that they did not even review their policies.”  Amerisure, 2 F.Supp.2d at 305.

Similarly, here, Applied failed to act diligently in not reviewing the complaint's allegations in light of its policies and making a good faith determination regarding coverage of Harbor's claims.   Further, as a result of Applied's inaction, we find Northbrook was prejudiced in that it was precluded from being able to meaningfully participate in the pretrial discovery occurring prior to Applied's notification, which the record reveals to have been substantial.   See Amerisure, 2 F.Supp.2d at 305 (finding the insureds' delay in notification resulted in prejudice because it deprived the insurers “the opportunity to meaningfully participate in the underlying * * * litigation”).

Given Applied's unjustified excuse for its delay, coupled with the prejudice experienced by Northbrook, we conclude Applied's notification of the Harbor lawsuit 17 months after the filing of the underlying complaint was unreasonably late.   Northbrook therefore has no obligation to provide defense costs or indemnification under the policies.


For the following reasons, the order of the circuit court entering summary judgment in favor of Northbrook is affirmed.



1. While the record does not contain the schedule portion of the Excess/Umbrella Policy, both parties indicate that the CGL Policy is listed as the underlying insurance in question.

2. We are aware that the Excess/Umbrella Policy does not use the word “suit” but rather refers to a “claim.”   Upon review of the policy language, we find the use of the term “claim” encompasses a lawsuit that is filed against the insured.

3. Some courts have stated that the lack of prejudice to the insurer under Illinois law is only relevant where either (1) the delay in notice was relatively brief or (2) where the insured has a good excuse for not acting.  Amerisure, 2 F.Supp.2d at 305;  Twin City Fire, 266 Ill.App.3d at 8-9, 203 Ill.Dec. 264, 639 N.E.2d at 588-89;  Village of Crete, 731 F.2d at 459 (citing cases).   Under this approach, the matter of prejudice is irrelevant to the court's analysis where the length of the insured's delay was substantial or where the insured's excuse is determined to be unreasonable.

Justice CERDA delivered the opinion of the court:

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CAHILL, P.J., and WOLFSON, J., concur.


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How far do background checks go in Illinois? ›

Background checks are limited to seven years for arrests that did not lead to convictions, liens, collections, and civil judgments, and ten years for bankruptcies. These FCRA limits do not apply to positions that pay $75,000 or more annually or when conducting background checks without the help of a CRA.

How do I search for public record in Illinois for free? ›

The re:SearchIL facility of the state of Illinois is a free online service that you can use to search for court records across all 102 counties in the state. All you have to do is an eFileIL account to access the site and search court records for free.

Can I secretly record a conversation Illinois? ›

In many circumstances, it is illegal to record a private conversation in Illinois unless all parties have given consent. Illinois enforces its two-party consent law under its eavesdropping statute (720 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/14-2(a)(1)).

Is Illinois a no record state? ›

Illinois is a two-party consent state, which means that it is illegal to record conversations in some circumstances unless all parties' consent.

Does Google have a legal search engine? ›

Google Scholar offers an extensive database of state and federal cases, including: U.S. Supreme Court Opinions. U.S. Federal District, Appellate, Tax, and Bankruptcy Court Opinions. U.S. State Appellate and Supreme Court Opinions.

Are Google searches admissible in court? ›

Browser history must be relevant

For many people, a full analysis of their internet search history would be embarrassing at the very least. Fortunately, like all evidence, evidence about your Google search history must be relevant in order for it to be discoverable or admissible in court.

What is the court case vs Google? ›

Google v. Gonzalez is the first Supreme Court case to consider the scope of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which immunizes websites from legal liability for content provided by their users.

What is a Type 5 case? ›

Adoption/Parentage – Case Type 5. Mental Illness/Alcohol – Case Type 6.

What are the two types of cases in law? ›

There are two kinds of court cases: civil and criminal.

What are the three most common types of civil cases? ›

The three most common civil cases are tort claims, contract breaches and landlord/tenant issues.

Is a public defender free in Illinois? ›

There is no fee if the case is lost. So, anyone can afford to hire a contingency lawyer. Public defenders are free, but they might not be your best option. Public defenders are paid for by taxpayers, as a government service, rather than by individual clients.

What amendment says you have the right to an attorney? ›

United States, 486 U.S. 153, 158 (1988) ( [W]e have held that the Sixth Amendment secures the right to the assistance of counsel, by appointment if necessary, in a trial for any serious crime. ).

What is the right to counsel in Illinois? ›

The right to counsel in Illinois

Illinois law prohibits children from waiving their right to counsel in delinquency proceedings, and children under the age of 15 in most serious delinquency matters “must be represented by counsel throughout the entire custodial interrogation of the minor.”

What is it called when a judge writes an opinion? ›

A judicial opinion is a form of legal opinion written by a judge or a judicial panel in the course of resolving a legal dispute, providing the decision reached to resolve the dispute, and usually indicating the facts which led to the dispute and an analysis of the law used to arrive at the decision.

Who decides who writes the opinion for the court? ›

After the votes have been tallied, the Chief Justice, or the most senior Justice in the majority if the Chief Justice is in the dissent, assigns a Justice in the majority to write the opinion of the Court. The most senior justice in the dissent can assign a dissenting Justice to write the dissenting opinion.

Is a court opinion a decision? ›

A decision of the court is its judgment; an opinion is the reason given for that judgment.

What two steps must be taken before an appellate court will hear an appeal? ›

In this article, we'll discuss the five major appeal process steps.
  • Step 1: Hiring an Appellate Attorney (Before Your Appeal) ...
  • Step 2: Filing the Notice of Appeal. ...
  • Step 3: Preparing the Record on Appeal. ...
  • Step 4: Researching and Writing Your Appeal. ...
  • Step 5: Oral Argument.
Jun 8, 2020

What types of cases can a court with appellate jurisdiction hear? ›

Courts of Appeal

People who lose a case or part of a case in the trial court can ask a higher court (called an "appellate court") to review the trial court's decision. Appeals of family law cases, probate cases, juvenile cases, felony cases, and civil cases for more than $25,000 are heard in the Court of Appeal.

Can a judge make a decision without evidence? ›

Generally, a judge's ruling in the trial court must be based on the facts that are proven at trial.

Why are some opinions not published? ›

Non-publication of legal opinions is the practice of a court issuing unpublished opinions. An unpublished opinion is a decision of a court that is not available for citation as precedent because the court deems the case to have insufficient precedential value.

Can you cite unpublished opinions in Illinois? ›

Illinois state court

Rule 23(e) discusses what can be cited: Rule 23(e) [Effect of Orders]- An unpublished order of the court is not precedential and may not be cited by any party except to support contentions of double jeopardy, res judicata, collateral estoppel or law of the case.

What makes a case unpublished? ›

An unpublished case is one where: The court has placed a citation limitation on the opinion – there is typically some language in the document that provides explicit instructions on when the case can and cannot be cited to, or a reference to a court rule that delineates that information.

What do appellate judges look for when reviewing a case? ›

The appellate court reviews the record to make sure there is substantial evidence that reasonably supports the trial court's decision. The appellate court's function is not to decide whether it would have reached the same factual conclusions as the judge or jury.

How long does an appeal decision take? ›

The decision

The whole process from submission to decision should take around three months.

How does an appeal work in Illinois? ›

The appeal must be in writing or you may use form APL124F: Notice of Appeal/Board of Review. You must appeal within 30 days of the date of the Decision's issue. You should state why you are appealing and include the docket number of the Referee's Decision.

What happens if you lose an appeal? ›

After losing an appeal, the appellate court will typically affirm the original decision made by the lower court. In other words, the lower court's decision will stand, and the ruling will become final. In some instances, the appellate court may also modify the original decision instead of affirming it.

What are the four steps in hearing an appeals court case? ›

Step 1: File the Notice of Appeal. Step 2: Pay the filing fee. Step 3: Determine if/when additional information must be provided to the appeals court as part of opening your case. Step 4: Order the trial transcripts.

What decisions are made by appellate court judges? ›

The appellate courts do not retry cases or hear new evidence. They do not hear witnesses testify. There is no jury. Appellate courts review the procedures and the decisions in the trial court to make sure that the proceedings were fair and that the proper law was applied correctly.

What are the parts of an appellate court opinion? ›

The pattern of opinion writing for appellate courts has five parts: opening paragraph identifying the type of case, aligning the parties, and giving the result in the trial court; indication of the issues on appeal; statement of some or all of the facts; discussion of the law, with additional facts as needed; and ...

What is competent substantial evidence? ›

Competent substantial evidence means "such evidence as will establish a substantial basis of fact from which a fact at issue can be reasonably inferred," and evidence which "should be sufficiently relevant and material that a reasonable mind would accept it as adequate to support the conclusion reached." De Groot v.

Can I look up local court cases? ›

The public is allowed to look at court records for most cases. However, there are some court records the public is not allowed to see. This happens when a law or court order makes a record confidential.

How do I find old court records online in Illinois? ›

How do I use
  1. Go to the website.
  2. Select your county, if it is listed in the pull-down menu.
  3. If your county is listed, select your county and click Go.
  4. You can: ...
  5. Click Search.
  6. If there are any results, click on the case number to see information about the case.

Can the public attend court hearings in Illinois? ›

You have a First Amendment right to attend all stages of criminal trials . See Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555, 580 (1980).

How do I look up divorce records in Illinois? ›

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Division of Vital Records does not issue certified copies of dissolution of marriage records. Certified copies are available from the circuit court clerk in the county where the dissolution of marriage was granted.

What is the best public records search database? ›

8 Best Background Check Services: At A Glance
  • BeenVerified - Best Background Check Site Overall.
  • PeopleLooker - Best for Fast Results.
  • TruthFinder - Best Background Check Site For Value of Money.
  • Intelius - Best Public Record Database.
  • Instant Checkmate - Best for Ease of Use.
  • PeopleFinders - Best Database.
Mar 21, 2023

How do I request public records in Illinois? ›

To file a Freedom of Information request: complete and submit the Freedom of Information Act Request Form; (1) via email to; (2) mail to: FOIA Officer, Illinois Secretary of State, 100 W. Randolph St. Suite #15-600, Chicago, IL 60601.

How do I find someone's charges in Cook County? ›

If you need copies of your court records in Cook County Circuit Court you generally need to go in person to the courthouse. Cook County does not provide online access to criminal records. If your case was filed in Cook County, go to the Circuit Clerk's Office in the district where you went to court.

Are mugshots public record in Illinois? ›

Mugshots are the property of the government. They are a part of the public record. Most mugshots are released by state law enforcement agencies. They must be made available to the media.

What is the Illinois Supreme Court Rule 45? ›

Illinois Supreme Court Rule 45, effective January 1, 2023, governs remote appearances in circuit court proceedings. The purpose of this Order is to provide information to the public about attending court remotely, either by phone or video in compliance with Supreme Court Rule 45.

Is court still on Zoom in Illinois? ›

Illinois courts control their own courtrooms on an individual basis. Some judges have started to require more involved court dates to occur in person, like full-day hearings and trial dates. But the vast majority of litigation in Illinois still takes place via the digital courtroom within Zoom.

What happens if you don't show up for court in Illinois? ›

If a person ignores the ticket or fails to appear in court on any court date scheduled, the judge will enter an ex parte judgment of conviction and assess a fine against that person in the amount set by the Illinois Supreme Court.

How do I find court cases online in Illinois? ›

Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER)

Visit the PACER website ( to create an account, view fee schedules, or report problems accessing the system. The toll-free telephone number for the PACER Service Center is 1-800-676-6856.

Are divorces public record Illinois? ›

Are Divorce Records Public? Divorce records are public information in Illinois. The records are kept and stored by The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the Division of Vital Records and the circuit clerk in the county courthouse where the divorce occurred.

Does Illinois have a CCAP? ›

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) partners with child care providers to serve low income families through the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).


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