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08/23/89 J. Isabel Miranda, v. Coronet Insurance Company

August 23, 1989

J. ISABEL MIRANDA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

CORONET INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT (HELEN DIGGS, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE)



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, THIRD DIVISION

543 N.E.2d 882, 187 Ill. App. 3d 886, 135 Ill. Dec. 314 1989.IL.1288

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Richard L. Curry, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

PRESIDING JUSTICE FREEMAN delivered the opinion of the court. WHITE and CERDA, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE FREEMAN

Plaintiff, J. Isabel Miranda, filed a complaint in the circuit court to compel defendant, Coronet Insurance Company, to arbitrate a claim for uninsured motorist coverage under an automobile liability insurance policy issued to plaintiff. After defendant answered the complaint, both parties moved for summary judgment. The trial court denied defendant's motion and granted plaintiff's motion. Defendant appeals.

Defendant issued an automobile liability insurance policy to plaintiff for the period from March 20 to September 20, 1986. As required by section 143a of the Illinois Insurance Code (Insurance Code) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 73, par. 613 et seq.), the policy provided uninsured motorist coverage to the limits of liability for bodily injury or death mandated by section 7-203 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Vehicle Code) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 95 1/2, par. 7-203). As further mandated by section 143a, the policy provided for arbitration of any disputes with respect to the uninsured motorist coverage. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 73, par. 755a.) Plaintiff was involved in a collision with Helen Diggs on April 15, 1986. Plaintiff's complaint alleged that Diggs was an uninsured motorist. Plaintiff filed a demand for arbitration of his uninsured motorist claim under defendant's policy on December 24, 1986.

On February 27, 1987, the safety responsibility section of the Department of Transportation (hereinafter collectively DOT) informed plaintiff's counsel by letter that a motorist was not required to show evidence of liability insurance unless there was damage to another's property in excess of $250 or bodily injury to another person. The letter further stated that Diggs submitted no evidence of automobile liability insurance. Lastly, the letter stated that Diggs was not required to prove financial responsibility because plaintiff's accident report failed to show the cost of repairing his vehicle.

On March 5, 1987, plaintiff's counsel advised the DOT by letter that plaintiff had "medical specials" in the amount of $1,300 and requested that Diggs be required to prove financial responsibility. On April 27, 1987, defendant informed plaintiff of its refusal to arbitrate his uninsured motorist claim.

Finally, on May 27, 1987, the DOT informed plaintiff's counsel by letter that Diggs never filed a report or evidence of financial responsibility and that her name was therefore certified to the Secretary of State for a preliminary determination of probable liability. He was further informed that the Secretary took no action because the reports in the case file contained an inadequate description of the accident or conflicting information which prohibited establishing a prima facie case against Diggs.

Plaintiff filed his complaint to compel arbitration on September 29, 1987. In answering the complaint, defendant denied that Helen Diggs was an uninsured motorist. Defendant also pleaded the affirmative defense that plaintiff had not, as required under defendant's policy, furnished a written finding from the DOT that any person legally responsible for plaintiff's injuries had failed to prove financial responsibility.

In moving for summary judgment, plaintiff chiefly relied on subparagraph 6 of section 143a. That subparagraph provides:

"Failure of the motorist from whom [an insured] is legally entitled to recover damages to file the appropriate forms with the Safety Responsibility Section of the Department of Transportation within 120 days of the accident date shall create a rebuttable presumption that such motorist was uninsured at the time of the injurious occurrence." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 73, par. 755a(6).

In view of section 143a(6), plaintiff asserted that defendant's requirement of a written finding from the DOT was not a ...


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