Bd. of Educ. of Roxana Cmty. Unit Sch. Dist. No. 1 v. Pollution Control Bd.Annotate this Case
WRB owns the Wood River Petroleum Refinery in Madison County. Following major renovations, WRB applied to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency under the Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/11-25) to have 28 of the refinery’s systems, methods, devices, and facilities certified as “pollution control facilities” for preferential tax assessment. IEPA recommended approval of two of the requests by the Pollution Control Board (PCB), which accepted the IEPA’s recommendations. The Board of Education sought to intervene in the proceedings where certification had been granted, arguing that it had a legally cognizable interest because the certifications would ultimately deprive it of tax revenue. PCB denied the petitions as moot. While requests to reconsider were pending, the IEPA recommended that the PCB approve WRB’s applications to certify the remaining 26 systems. Before PCB took action on those cases, the Board of Education sought to intervene. PCB denied the motion and granted certification in each case. The appellate court dismissed the Board of Education’s consolidated appeal for lack of jurisdiction under section 41 of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, under which the Board of Education sought review The court noted the specific provision for appeals in proceedings involving PCB’s “issuance, refusal to issue, denial, revocation, modification or restriction of a pollution control certificate,” contained in the Property Tax Code,35 ILCS 200/11-60. That provision requires that proceedings originate in the circuit court, rather than by direct administrative review in the appellate court. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed.
In 2009, there was a fatal collision on a rural highway in Effingham County. A young man who was 18 years old and who was not intoxicated was killed. The other driver was a 60-year-old man who was intoxicated and who had been drinking in the named defendant’s tavern, known as Johnny’s Bar and Grill.
The decedent’s parents, the plaintiffs here, filed an action under the Dramshop Act and sought a jury trial. They had already obtained $106,550 in insurance recoveries. The Dramshop Act had a statutory cap on recovery of $130,338.51, and the defendant had insurance for that amount, but his insurer later became insolvent and was liquidated. The Illinois Insurance Guaranty Fund then assumed his defense.
The wording of the Guaranty Fund statute is at issue here. It provides that the Fund’s obligation shall be reduced by a plaintiff’s other insurance recoveries. The parties disagreed as to the proper procedure for applying this setoff, but agreed that the question should be certified to the appellate court. There, a ruling was obtained that the reduction should be applied to the jury’s verdict. The Dramshop Act provides for a jury trial.
In this decision, the Illinois Supreme Court said that the Fund, now defending the claim, is legally liable only up to the maximum recovery possible under the Dramshop Act, i.e., to a maximum of $130,338.51. The setoff for insurance proceeds should be applied against that maximum liability. The availability of a jury trial is not relevant to this determination, and the amount of a jury verdict cannot expand the Fund’s obligation.
The plaintiffs had theorized that, if the jury award were far in excess of the statutory cap, the setoff could first be applied to the award, and the award could then be brought down to allow them to recover the full amount of the statutory cap itself. This interpretation was rejected by the supreme court here.
The appellate court’s ruling on the certified question was reversed and the cause was remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings.