The Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus v. Clark and Dickens, LLC (1st Dist. Doc. No. 1-07-0960)

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This is a case from the first district about the collapse of a building in Chicago.  The Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus (a Jesuit organization) had a building and demolition work adjacent to the building went awry causing the collapse of the Jesuit's structure.

The parties (and there are many) sued each other and some of the defendants decided to settle.  In total, the Jesuits sought close to $3 Million in damages from the defendants on theories of negligence, violation of the Adjacent Landowner's Excavation Protection Act and violation of the Illinois Municipal Code.  Six of the defendants offered a total of $1,185,000 to settle the claims made against them.

In Illinois, parties can seek a "good faith finding of settlement" under the Illinois Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act allowing a party that settled to be discharged not only in settlement with the plaintiff, but also from all liability to any other party that might be pointing a finger in their direction.

Here, some of the parties that did not settle objected to the attempts by the settling defendants to obtain a good faith finding because that finding would mean that the non-settling defendants could not seek any more contribution from the settling defendants and would be left paying for whatever damages might be assessed down the road.

In addressing the matter, the court provided a decent summary of the relevant case law and standards regarding "good faith" findings of settlement and upheld the trial court's determination that the settlements were made in good faith.  Effectively allowing the settling defendants to have their liability capped and be removed from the case.

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