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West American Insurance Co. v. Hinze

decided: March 22, 1988.

WEST AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
RICHARD HINZE, GERALD RUFFINO, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF ANTHONY PAUL RUFFINO, A DECEASED MINOR, PAMELA RUFFINO, AND THE CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, No. 86 C 5996, Susan Getzendanner, Judge.

Posner and Coffey, Circuit Judges, and Noland, Senior District Judge.*fn*

Author: Noland

NOLAND, Senior District Judge.

West American sought a declaratory judgment that a motor vehicle exclusion clause in one of its homeowner policies excludes coverage when the insured's grandson, who is in the insured's unattended motor vehicle, dies when the vehicle rolls into Lake Michigan. The trial court denied West American's motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissed the action. We affirm.

I. Background

A. Facts

West American issued a homeowner's insurance policy to Richard Hinze effective from November 15, 1984 to November 15, 1985. The policy contained the following exclusion clause:

SECTION II--EXCLUSIONS

1. Coverage E--Personal Liability & Coverage F--Medical Payments to Others do not apply to bodily injury or property damage:

e. Arising out of the ownership, maintenance, use, loading or unloading of:

(2) A motor vehicle owned or operated by, or rented or loaned to any insured.

It appears from facts alleged in the underlying state court tort action that on a date in September, 1985 (and thus within the effective period of the homeowner's policy in question), the insured Richard Hinze was baby-sitting his three-year old grandson, Anthony Paul Ruffino. It further appears that with Ruffino in Hinze's automobile, Hinze drove to the Montrose Harbor West compound and stopped the auto at a storage area near an open gate. Hinze left the auto, and it is unclear whether Ruffino remained in the auto at all times, or left and then returned to the unsupervised auto. In any case, the auto, with Ruffino inside, rolled out of the storage area and into Lake Michigan. The minor Ruffino lost his life.

B. Procedural History

The administrator of Ruffino's estate sued Hinze in an Illinois state court, alleging negligent operation of the automobile and negligent supervision of Ruffino. West American filed for a declaratory judgment in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Rather than defend the negligent supervision claim, West American sought to establish that it could not be liable under the ...


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