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Sharples v. General Casualty Co. of Ill.

OPINION FILED JUNE 13, 1980.

MARGARET SHARPLES, INDIV. AND AS ADM'R OF THE ESTATE OF EUGENE J. SHARPLES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

GENERAL CASUALTY COMPANY OF ILLINOIS, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RICHARD L. CURRY, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE WILSON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff brought an action for declaratory judgment to construe the uninsured motorist provision in an automobile insurance policy. She sought to stack the uninsured motorist coverage based upon the policy's coverage of two automobiles and the payment of premiums thereon. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the trial court ruled in favor of defendant insurer and held, as a matter of law, that the limits of liability clause in the policy precluded stacking and that the payment of premiums was immaterial. On appeal plaintiff contends: (1) the trial court erred in granting defendant's motion for summary judgment; and (2) the trial court's decision constitutes a violation of the due process and equal protection provisions of the State and Federal constitutions. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. The relevant facts follow.

On April 28, 1976, the deceased, Eugene Sharples, purchased an automobile insurance policy from defendant General Casualty Company. The policy insured two automobiles owned by Sharples, a 1972 and a 1976 Oldsmobile. The policy also contained a provision that provided, in pertinent part, as follows:

"Limits of Liability: Regardless of the number of (1) persons or organizations who are insureds under this policy, (2) persons or organizations who sustain bodily injury or property damage, (3) claims made or suits brought on account of bodily injury or property damage, or (4) automobiles or trailers to which this policy applies,

Uninsured Motorists Coverage:

(D) The limit of liability for uninsured motorists coverage stated in the declarations as applicable to `each person' is the limit of the company's liability for all damages, including damages for care or loss of services, because of bodily injury sustained by one person as the result of any one accident and, subject to the above provision respecting each person, the limit of liability stated in the declarations as applicable to `each accident' is the total limit of the company's liability for all damages because of bodily injuries sustained by two or more persons as the result of any one accident."

The attached declaration sheets set forth the limits of liability for an occurrence involving an uninsured motorist in the amount of $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident.

On June 27, 1976, while driving his 1976 Oldsmobile, Sharples was involved in a collision with William Holland, an uninsured motorist. Sharples died as a result of the accident.

Thereafter, Margaret Sharples, as the administrator of her deceased husband's estate, made a claim for $20,000 under the uninsured motorist coverage provision of the policy. Defendant denied her request of $20,000 and confined its payment to $10,000 based upon the terms of the limits of liability clause contained in the policy.

On June 15, 1978, plaintiff brought an action for declaratory judgment against defendant to construe the uninsured motorist provision of the policy. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the trial court ruled in favor of defendant and held, as a matter of law, that: (1) the limits of liability clause in the policy was clear, unambiguous, and precluded stacking of uninsured motorist coverage; and (2) the payment of premiums by the uninsured for uninsured motorist coverage was immaterial.

On March 2, 1979, plaintiff filed a motion to vacate, which was subsequently denied. Plaintiff now appeals the denial of that motion and the order granting defendant's motion for summary judgment.

OPINION

Plaintiff initially contends that the trial court erred in granting defendant's motion for summary judgment since there exists a genuine issue of fact as to the payment of premiums. She argues that the payment of multiple premiums is a factual issue going to the reasonable expectations of the insured, contrary to the trial court's determination that the payment of premiums was immaterial. We reject this argument.

A motion for summary judgment should be granted when "the pleadings, depositions, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 110, par. 57(3); Hernandez v. Johnson Press Corp. (1979), 70 Ill. App.3d 664, 388 N.E.2d 778.) Summary judgment is also proper when the issue is determinable solely as a matter of law. (Serowski v. Klapper (1978), 65 Ill. App.3d 238, 382 N.E.2d 499.) In light of the recent decision of our supreme ...


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