Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Arthur
L. Dunne, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE MCGILLICUDDY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Plaintiff, Standard Mutual Insurance Company (Standard), filed a complaint for declaratory judgment against Sentry Insurance of Illinois (Sentry), Kathi Lynn Wigfield and John Bormet. Plaintiff sought a declaration of the rights of the parties under automobile insurance policies issued by Standard and Sentry. Sentry filed a counterclaim against Standard, Wigfield and Bormet to adjudicate the rights and liabilities of the parties. Sentry also filed a third-party complaint against Robert Saffer and Naida Saffer seeking to adjudicate that Wigfield is covered by the Standard policy for any claims resulting from the accident of April 9, 1983. The trial court ruled that Wigfield was not entitled to any coverage under the insurance policy issued by Standard and that Standard was not obligated to defend Wigfield in connection with the April 9, 1983, accident between Wigfield and Bormet. The trial court further held that Wigfield was entitled to coverage under the insurance policy issued by Sentry and that Sentry was obligated to defend Wigfield relative to the above specified accident. Sentry's post-trial motion was denied. Sentry appeals.
On March 30, 1983, Wigfield visited the home of Robert and Naida Saffer, at which time she was hired to housesit and care for their daughter, Deborah, while they were in Florida. Wigfield testified that she believed her duties were to start on April 8, 1983. During the visit, Mrs. Saffer gave Wigfield the keys to the house, told her that she would be paid $30 a day, and explained that her duties would include preparing meals and taking Deborah to and from various activities. Wigfield assumed that her duties also included activities such as collecting the mail, buying necessary groceries, and making sure that doors were locked, windows closed, and lights turned on and off at the appropriate hours. She and Mrs. Saffer did not discuss whether Wigfield would use her 1974 Chevrolet Vega or the Saffers' 1983 Cadillac Eldorado. Additionally, there was no discussion regarding reimbursement for expenses such as gasoline, and the only time Wigfield saw the Cadillac was when Mrs. Saffer took her into the garage to show her where soft drinks were stored. The Saffers did not give Wigfield any keys to the Cadillac. Mrs. Saffer took her set of keys with her to Florida, and Mr. Saffer testified that he left his in the bedroom in the top dresser drawer under some underwear. According to Wigfield, Mrs. Saffer told her that she could sleep in the couple's bedroom when she stayed in the house.
Sometime prior to April 8, Mrs. Saffer informed Wigfield that Deborah would return to Chicago from Florida on April 12 rather than on April 8. Wigfield agreed to pick her up at the airport. Wigfield testified that she still believed her duties would begin on April 8 and that she could move into the Saffer home at that time. She decided to move into the home on April 12 upon Deborah's arrival. Between April 8 and 12, Wigfield planned to check the home to turn the lights on in the evening and collect the mail. She assumed that she could use the Saffer car during the course of her job.
While on her way to a class on the morning of April 8, 1983, Wigfield observed that her Chevrolet Vega swerved when she applied the brakes. She testified that she attempted to phone the Saffers in Florida to ask if she could use their car prior to Deborah's arrival on the 12th, but she was unable to reach them. Wigfield stated that she also phoned one repair shop and was informed that her car could not be serviced on that day. During her lunch break, Wigfield drove the Vega to the Saffer home, where she located the Cadillac keys in the dresser drawer. She then drove the Cadillac back to school and, late in the afternoon, to her apartment. At approximately 12:15 a.m. on April 9, 1983, Wigfield was involved in an accident while driving the Saffers' car.
John Bormet, the party allegedly injured in the accident, thereafter brought suit against Wigfield and the Saffers. The Saffers were insured under an automobile liability policy issued by Standard for their 1983 Cadillac. Under this policy, the named insureds as well as any other resident of the same household were covered. Additionally, the policy provided that "any other person using such automobile with the permission of the named insured, provided his actual operation or (if he is not operating) his other actual use thereof is within the scope of such permission" would also be covered.
Wigfield was the named insured under an automobile policy issued by Sentry, which listed her 1974 Chevrolet Vega as the insured vehicle. The policy contained the following provisions relevant to this action:
We insure a substitute car when the car described on the declarations page, or any replacement or addition, can't be used because it's being serviced or repaired, or it's [sic] been stolen or destroyed. * * *
We insure other cars you use with the permission of the owner. This doesn't include cars owned by you or furnished for the regular use of, you or resident members of your family.
This insurance is primary for any car described on the declaration page or any additional or replacement car we insure.
This insurance is excess for the use of any car not owned by you." (Emphasis in original.)
After hearing the evidence presented, the trial court found that: (1) Wigfield did not have actual or implied permission from either Robert or Naida Saffer to use their car on the day of the accident; (2) Wigfield was not a resident of the Saffer household; and (3) at the time of the accident, Wigfield was using the Saffer car as a substitute car because her own was being serviced or repaired. The court thus declared that ...