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Lannom v. Kosco

Supreme Court of Illinois

April 21, 1994, Filed

Docket No. 75983

Opinion

 [*537]   [**1099]   [****745]  CHIEF JUSTICE BILANDIC delivered the opinion of the court:

The plaintiffs, Paul and Nadine Lannom, brought an action in the circuit court of Williamson County against the defendant, Robert Kosco. The plaintiffs' complaint sought to recover damages for personal injury to Paul and loss of consortium to Nadine. Defendant Kosco, in turn, filed a third-party complaint against the County of Williamson, Paul's employer at the time of the accident, seeking contribution. On the day of trial, the county moved to dismiss the third-party complaint against it, stipulating that it would waive its workers' compensation lien. As support for its motion, the county relied upon this court's decision in Kotecki v. Cyclops Welding Corp. (1991), 146 Ill. 2d 155, 166 Ill. Dec. 1, 585 N.E.2d 1023. The trial court granted the county's motion to dismiss, rejecting Kosco's argument that Kotecki applies prospectively only. The [***2]  appellate court affirmed. (247 Ill. App. 3d 629.) We granted Kosco's petition for leave to appeal (134 Ill. 2d R. 315).

The primary issue raised in this interlocutory appeal is whether the rule adopted in Kotecki v. Cyclops Welding Corp. (1991), 146 Ill. 2d 155, 166 Ill. Dec. 1, 585 N.E.2d 1023, applies retroactively to cases that were pending when this court announced that decision. We conclude that the decision applies retroactively.

Facts

On February 16, 1989, the plaintiffs filed a complaint that alleged that the defendant, Kosco, negligently drove his automobile and struck Paul Lannom, as he was working alongside a highway. On March 8, 1989, Kosco filed a third-party complaint for contribution against Paul's employer, the County of Williamson. The third-party complaint alleged that the county engaged in willful and wanton misconduct when it parked its truck on the wrong side of the road without hazard lights or warning devices. On April 18, 1991, this court announced  [*538]  its decision in Kotecki, which held that an employer's liability in contribution is limited to the amount of its workers'  [***3]  compensation liability. Kotecki, 146 Ill. 2d 155, 166 Ill. Dec. 1, 585 N.E.2d 1023.

The County of Williamson then filed three motions: a motion to strike the ad damnum clause of Kosco's third-party complaint; a motion to limit its liability to the amount of its workers' compensation lien; and, finally, a motion to dismiss the third-party complaint, pursuant to its agreement to waive its workers' compensation lien. Kosco objected to the motions, arguing that the decision in Kotecki should apply prospectively only. The plaintiffs also objected for the same reason. Following a hearing, the trial court granted the county's motion to dismiss the third-party complaint upon waiver of the county's workers' compensation lien. The court found that nothing in this court's decision suggested that Kotecki would apply prospectively only. The appellate court affirmed. (247 Ill. App. 3d 629.) This court granted the third-party defendant's petition for leave to appeal to consider whether the decision in Kotecki should apply prospectively only (134 Ill. 2d R. 315).

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158 Ill. 2d 535 *; 634 N.E.2d 1097 **; 1994 Ill. LEXIS 59 ***; 199 Ill. Dec. 743 ****

PAUL LANNOM et al., v. ROBERT KOSCO, Appellant (The County of Williamson, Appellee).

Prior History:  [***1]  Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fifth District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Williamson County, the Hon. C. David Nelson, Judge, presiding.

Disposition: Affirmed.

CORE TERMS

third-party, workers' compensation, trial court, argues, waived, retroactively, willful, wanton misconduct, third party, cases, fault

Governments, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Workers' Compensation & SSDI, Compensability, Injuries, Accidental Injuries, Course of Employment, General Overview, Torts, Defenses, Comparative Fault, Procedural Matters, Multiple Defendants, Joint & Several Liability