Recently, the Illinois State Bar Association brought a declaratory judgement action against one of its members in Indiana federal court. The ISBA seeks a ruling that frees them from defending the member from claims in an underlying suit.
The underlying suit accuses the member, Patricia Sharkey, of legal malpractice. The suit involves the construction of seawalls in a town on Lake Michigan’s southeastern shore. Additionally, the suit seeks sanctions from Sharkey for the same conduct. By concealing conflicts of interest, the suit alleges that Sharkey and others engaged in “intentional and conspiratorial conduct”.
The ISBA seeks relief because its policy does not cover the types of claims that were brought against Sharkey. Specifically, the policy “does not cover a claim for conspiracy to violate substantive due process rights based on conduct warranting the imposition of punitive damages as alleged in the federal case, and does not involve a ‘wrongful act.'”