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Insurer Wants No Part of Attorneys’ Brawl

CHICAGO (CN) - State Farm wants no part in defending a public defender who allegedly jumped on a prosecutor's back, twisted his neck, slammed him to the ground and sat on him.

State Farm Fire & Casualty Company sued Henry Hams and Michael McCormick in Cook County Court.

The insurer claims policy exclusions allow it to bow out of the affair that began 3½ years ago between Hams, a Cook County public defender, and McCormick, an assistant state's attorney.

Hams had just left the Criminal Courts Building of Cook County when he approached McCormick to get some documents, in June 2010.

McCormick became verbally abusive and pushed him, Hams told the Chicago Tribune.

"I just felt Mike McCormick was a bully," Hams told the Tribune. "He got in my face."

The public defender said he thought McCormick was going to hit him, so he acted first.

Hams allegedly jumped on McCormick's back, grabbed his neck, threw him to the ground, and straddled him to keep McCormick from getting up.

McCormick claimed the attack was unprovoked, but a jury found Hams not guilty of assault in November 2012.

"I have a right to defend myself if threatened," Hams told the jury. "I was thinking tactically, what is the best way to handle this situation?" he said, according to the Tribune.

McCormick claimed he had to have an operation on his neck within weeks of the incident. He sued Hams for emotional damages in civil court.

State Farm claims no duty to defend Hams because terms of his condominium policy excludes emotional injuries.

"The condominium policy does not provide coverage to Hams for the McCormick lawsuit for the reason that the McCormick complaint does not allege 'bodily injury' caused by an 'occurrence,'" State Farm says in the lawsuit.

It also claims the policy excludes bodily injury that results from "any willful and malicious act of the insured," and bodily injury "arising out of business pursuits."

State Farm seeks declaratory judgment holding it not liable to indemnify Hams in McCormick's lawsuit against him.

It is represented by Michael Borders with Dykema Gossett.

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