Conversion Is An Intentional Tort And Can Never Be An Occurrence

Liability insurance, by definition, requires the existence of a fortuitous act that is either unknown or unintended by the insured. When the only tortious charge against the insured is the intentional tort of conversion, it is an event that is both known and intended and thus not an occurrence.

In Pekin Ins. Co. v. McKeown Classic Homes, Inc., 2020 IL App (2d) 190631-U, No. 2-19-0631 (Ill. App. 2d Dist. June 16, 2020), the Illinois appellate court was asked to determine the existence of a duty to defend.

Janet Hula, Michelle Hula-Miller, and Eric Miller (collectively "claimants") sued McKeown, alleging breach of contract and conversion stemming from McKeown’s work on claimants’ property pursuant to a construction agreement.

Count II (conversion) alleged that McKeown, "without authority and knowledge of the [claimants], took hundreds of planks of knotty pine wood, a Dutch door, a hand sink, four windows, and a glass door knowingly belonging to the [claimants] without [claimants’] consent." Count II alleged that claimants demanded McKeown return the above items, but he refused to do so.

Count II stated that, as a proximate result of McKewon’s conversion, claimants suffered $25,000 in damages. Claimants further alleged that McKeown’s acts were "willful, wanton, malicious, and oppressive and were undertaken with the intent to defraud and justify the awarding of punitive damages."

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