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11/17/88 Monarch Insurance Company v. Bruno Castellano

November 17, 1988

MONARCH INSURANCE COMPANY OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

BRUNO CASTELLANO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FOURTH DIVISION

531 N.E.2d 908, 176 Ill. App. 3d 849, 126 Ill. Dec. 281 1988.IL.1668

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. George M. Marovich, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE McMORROW delivered the opinion of the court. JIGANTI, P.J., and JOHNSON, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCMORROW

Defendant Bruno Castellano (Castellano) appeals from the entry of summary judgment in favor of plaintiff Monarch Insurance Company of Ohio (Monarch) in a declaratory judgment action brought by Monarch. Monarch sought a determination of its liability for Castellano's loss of an aircraft insured by Monarch. The plane crashed 10 miles from the shore of the United States while Castellano was flying to the Bahamas.

The circuit court found that the loss was not covered by Castellano's policy with Monarch because the policy specifically limited coverage to "occurrences and loss happening . . . within the United States of America (excluding Alaska and Hawaii), Canada or Mexico." Castellano argues that the allowance of Monarch's motion for summary judgment should be reversed because the phrase "within the United States of America . . ., Canada, or Mexico" is ambiguous and because there is no causal connection between the territorial limitation and the cause of the loss.

We affirm.

Background

Castellano engaged Monarch to insure his single engine plane in 1984. Before he obtained the insurance, Castellano asked if the policy could be extended to cover flights to the Bahamas. Monarch responded that in order to extend coverage, Castellano would need a particular rating from the Federal Aeronautics Administration and would have to pay an additional $50 premium. Castellano did not have the FAA rating and therefore could not obtain Bahamas coverage; he also did not pay the extra premium required for coverage of flights to the Bahamas.

On January 21, 1986, Castellano departed from Ft. Pierce, Florida, intending to fly to the Bahamas. His engine failed mid-flight, however, and he "ditched" the plane in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 10 miles from the east coast of Florida.

Castellano filed a claim for the loss of his plane with Monarch. Monarch denied liability because Castellano's policy specifically stated, "This policy applies only to occurrences and loss happening during the policy period and within the United States of America (excluding Alaska and Hawaii), Canada or Mexico . . .." Monarch filed this action seeking a declaratory judgment that Castellano's policy did not cover the loss of the aircraft. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Following a hearing, the trial court granted Monarch's motion, and Castellano appeals.

Opinion

Castellano argues that the trial court's grant of summary judgment to Monarch should be reversed because the territorial coverage provision of his policy is ambiguous. According to Castellano, the term "United States" is open to numerous interpretations. Because of this ambiguity, Castellano maintains that the policy ...


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