Nat’l Cas. Co. v. White Mountains Reinsurance Co.
Steidl and Whitlock were convicted of 1987 murders, largely based on testimony by two supposed eyewitnesses. Long after the convictions, an investigation revealed that much of the testimony was perjured and that exculpatory evidence had been withheld. The revelations led to the release of the men and dismissal of all charges. Steidl had spent almost 17 years in prison; Whitlock had spent close to 21 years. They sued. By 2013, both had settled with all defendants. Because the defendants were public officials and public entities, disputes arose over responsibility for defense costs. National Casualty sought a declaratory judgment that it was not liable for the defense of former State’s Attorney, McFatridge, or Edgar County, agreeing to pay their costs under a reservation of rights until the issue was resolved. The Seventh Circuit ruled in favor of National Casualty. In another case McFatridge sought a state court order that the Illinois Attorney General approve his reasonable expenses and fees; the Illinois Supreme Court rejected the claim. In a third case, National Casualty sought a declaratory judgment that another insurer was liable for costs it had advanced. The Seventh Circuit affirmed that the other company is liable. It would be inequitable for that company to benefit from National’s attempt to do the right thing, especially since it did not do the right thing and contribute to the defense costs under a reservation of rights. View "Nat'l Cas. Co. v. White Mountains Reinsurance Co." on Justia Law