Type: News
Date: 04/30/2020

Taft Appellate Group Wins Reversal of $8.1 Million Verdict

Taft partners J. Timothy Eaton, Jonathan B. Amarilio and Elizabeth E. Babbitt successfully argued for the reversal of an $8.1 million verdict entered against Taft client Southern Illinois Asphalt Company, Inc. (SIAC). The case concerned a negligent misrepresentation claim filed against SIAC years after an underlying case against SIAC arising from a fatal car crash in southern Illinois settled. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendant joint venture in the underlying suit misrepresented the extent of the available insurance coverage when, after plaintiffs made a pre-discovery and time-limited demand, the attorney hired to represent the joint venture (of which SIAC was part) disclosed only the joint venture’s insurance policy and not individual policies held by the joint venture participants. Plaintiffs claimed that by disclosing only the joint venture’s coverage, the defense attorney wrongfully induced the plaintiffs to settle the underlying case for the joint venture’s $1 million policy limit. The jury returned a verdict for plaintiffs, and Taft’s appellate team was retained to challenge the result on review.

On appeal, SIAC argued that the joint venture’s attorney accurately represented the available insurance coverage, that the basis for plaintiffs’ claim (an alleged violation of FRCP 26) rested on a duty rightfully unrecognized by the law, and that the district court made numerous pre-trial and trial errors that deprived SIAC of a fair trial and required reversal of the verdict. The Seventh Circuit agreed with SIAC, finding that the district court erred as a matter of law and/or abused its discretion in at least six different ways, and thus reversed the verdict, sending the case back to the district court for a new trial.

Read more about this case in a recent Law360 article.

Eaton and Amarilio are leaders of Taft’s appellate practice. Eaton has a distinguished career in commercial and appellate litigation and has been involved in a number of high-profile cases. Amarilio has extensive experience appearing before state and federal appellate courts, primarily the Illinois Appellate Court, the Illinois Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Babbitt regularly advises clients in matters prior to the filing of a lawsuit and manages cases through trial and appeals. 

Turubchuk v. Southern Illinois Asphalt Company, Inc., No. 18-3507 (7th Cir. 2020).

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