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Feltmeier v. Feltmeier


he agreement operate to release him from liability. The specific language of those two provisions is set forth in the appellate court's opinion, and we see no need to repeat it here. Rather, we believe, as did the appellate court, that "the question can be simply answered in the negative in light of our holding on the continuing-tort theory." 333 Ill. App. 3d at 1183.

The marital settlement agreement was executed by the parties on December 11, 1997. We have found that Lynn's cause of action did not accrue until the date of the last tortious act, in August 1999. It is clear that a contractual release cannot be construed to include claims not within the contemplation of the parties, and it will not be extended to cover claims that may arise in the future. See Carona v. Illinois Central Gulf R.R. Co., 203 Ill. App. 3d 947, 951 (1990); Chubb v. Amax Coal Co., 125 Ill. App. 3d 682, 686 (1984); see also Farm Credit Bank of St. Louis v. Whitlock, 144 Ill. 2d 440, 448 (1991) (a general release is inapplicable to an unknown claim). Indeed, "a release covering all claims that might later arise between the parties `would constitute a consent to the foregoing of legal protection for the future and would plainly be against public policy.' (Havighurst, Construction of Releases, at 616)." Chubb, 125 Ill. App. 3d at 687. Thus, we agree with the appellate court's conclusion that " release with very general boilerplate language, such as the two provisions at issue, cannot be construed to release future causes of action between the parties." 333 Ill. App. 3d at 1183.

Finally, we address Robert's claim, made for the first time on appeal, that he is immune from suit for all acts occurring prior to January 1, 1988, the date upon which spouses were statutorily allowed to sue each other "for a tort committed during the marriage." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 40, par. 1001; 750 ILCS 65/1 (West 1998). Robert argues that prior to January 1, 1988, inter-spousal suits were only allowed in situations where there was an intentional tort with physical harm. The appellate court majority held that because "the continuing-tort theory applies to domestic abuse cases in the context of a claim for the intentional infliction of emotional distress and because it is alleged that Lynn's injuries and damages arise from the totality of Robert's abusive acts, Robert's claims of immunity fail." 333 Ill. App. 3d at 1184. We need not reach this substantive analysis of the issue, however, because we find that Robert's contention is erroneously based upon an earlier version of the statute which was no longer in effect at the time of the parties' marriage in 1986.

Although the statute at issue did, for a brief time in 1982, state that "neither husband nor wife may sue the other for a tort to the person committed during coverture, except for an intentional tort where the spouse inflicted physical harm" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 40, par. 1001), that section was amended effective July 13, 1982, to delete the phrase "where the spouse inflicted physical harm." See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 40, par. 1001. Thus, at all times pertinent to Lynn's cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress, the statute clearly provided that a wife could sue her husband for an intentional tort. We therefore affirm the appellate court's holding that the statute affords Robert no protection. See Leonardi v. Loyola University of Chicago, 168 Ill. 2d 83, 97 (1995) (reviewing court may sustain lower court decision on any grounds called for by the record, regardless of whether the lower court relied on those grounds).

For the foregoing reasons, the appellate court's answers to the certified questions of law were correct, as was its re

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