and in some old cases -- but never in what is the only right place: in the contract itself and its related documents. Dreiling's memorandum in support of her own summary judgment motion goes so far as to urge that this Court should somehow take judicial notice that Lake Michigan is an "inland waterway" as an "adjudicative fact" because the term has a fixed and immutable meaning based on those outside sources (Mem. 2-4), that "as a matter of federal law, Lake Michigan is an 'inland waterway'" (id. at 4) and that because "Commercial Union is presumed to know the law" (id.) it is bound by such usage.
All of that is of course absurd. Insurance contracts are after all contracts, with the drafters of the documents able (like patentees in their own patent applications) to serve as their own lexicographers. If for example a contracting party wanted to use the word "apple" in a contract to include "tomato," and if the party effectively reflected that intention in an appropriate way, that party would be entirely free to do so.
And the fact that someone else who was unaware of that special usage, but who simply heard the word "apple," would not understand that "tomato" was also meant to be included (understandably, because it is not normally spoken of as an apple) would not make the slightest difference to the validity of that meaning in contractual terms.
This opinion has just referred to such contractual intentions as being "effectively reflected." For that purpose it is well established that the court construing the contract may resort not only to its internal language but also to "any evidence that sheds light upon the intentions of the parties, including the situation of the parties, the purpose of the contract, and the circumstances surrounding the formation of the contract" ( Chicago Board Options Exchange, Inc. v. Connecticut General Life Ins. Co., 713 F.2d 254, 257-58 (7th Cir. 1983) ("CBOE")). And though CBOE speaks of that principle in terms of "construing an ambiguous contract," it surely embraces the kind of situation that is at issue here whether or not "INLAND WATERS" might be viewed as an ambiguous term.
In this instance the contractual environment begins with Maciuszek's directive to Lewis that he wanted to use his original boat, the Four Winds, only on the two rivers (the Illinois and the Kankakee) that he had mentioned. With the six alternative areas of coverage that were available from Commercial Union (and with a lower premium charged for such limited use), Lewis properly filled out the Binder/Application as applying only to "INLAND WATERS." And given the alternative Navigation Territory that was not chosen -- "GREAT LAKES & INLAND WATERS" -- there is not even an arguable basis for contending that the boat's usage on any of the Great Lakes would be included within the term "INLAND WATERS."
CBOE teaches that the Policy's origin, stemming from that Binder/Application, also bears on the meaning of the identical "INLAND WATERS" coverage under the Policy as it was issued by Commercial Union in response to the Binder/Application.
No significance can be attributed to the fact that the other alternative -- the road not taken
-- in the Policy read "GREAT LAKES & TRIBUTARIES" rather than "GREAT LAKES & INLAND WATERS," as it had in the Binder/Application. That difference in language certainly signifies that the "TRIBUTARIES" of the Great Lakes were "INLAND WATERS" for Policy purposes -- but it surely does not even conceivably suggest that the Great Lakes themselves were "INLAND WATERS."
Again it should be emphasized, especially in light of Maciuszek's statement that he never saw either the Binder/Application or the Policy before the occurrence of the accident that is now the subject of 91 C 2287, that the meaning of the Policy must be what was intended by Commercial Union and was wholly consistent with its reasonable understanding of the meaning of the Policy's terms. Because Commercial Union had depended entirely on what Maciuszek's agent Lewis told it, both when it issued the Policy with its limited coverage and when it kept the same coverage in force for the newly-acquired boat, that really closes the discussion.
Only one point remains, an obvious one. When the Ebbtide Cuddy was purchased to replace the Four Winds, that was the only change in the Policy that Lewis communicated to Commercial Union. That caused an increase in the premium (because the replacement boat was newer and much more expensive), but it did not bring about a change in the Navigation Limits.
In sum, the dispute here as to the Policy's meaning is properly and fully resolved by resort to the contract documents alone. "INLAND WATERS" began and remained "INLAND WATERS," a term that did not embrace navigation on the Great Lakes. Hence Maciuszek's use of the Ebbtide Cuddy on Lake Michigan did not give rise to an "accident[ ] and loss[ ] which occurred . . . while insured property is (a) afloat within the navigation limits specified on the Coverage Page" (Policy Part E § 1A).
There is no genuine issue of material fact, and Commercial Union is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. This Court declares that no insurance coverage is provided by Commercial Union under the Policy for the accident that is referred to in Dreiling's and Memisovskis' lawsuit against Maciuszek in 91 C 2287. This is a final order in 91 C 3970: a finding in favor of Commercial Union and against all of the other parties to this consolidated litigation -- Maciuszek, Dreiling and Memisovskis. There will be a status hearing in the sole surviving action, 91 C 2287, at 9 a.m. January 6, 1992.
Milton I. Shadur
United States District Judge
Date: November 25, 1991
[SEE EXHIBIT A IN ORIGINAL]
SEE EXHIBIT B IN ORIGINAL]