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04/03/96 KAREN STEARNS AND JENNIFER DELACHE v.

April 3, 1996

KAREN STEARNS AND JENNIFER DELACHE, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,
v.
MILLERS MUTUAL INSURANCE ASSOCIATION OF ILLINOIS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County. No. 94-MR-576. Honorable David R. Herndon, Judge, presiding.

As Corrected April 8, 1996. As Corrected May 9, 1996.

Presiding Justice Hopkins delivered the opinion of the court: Chapman, J., and Goldenhersh, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hopkins

PRESIDING JUSTICE HOPKINS delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant, Millers Mutual Insurance Association of Illinois (Millers Mutual), appeals from the trial court's order denying its motion for judgment on the pleadings and granting plaintiffs' cross-motion for judgment on the pleadings. The motions arose from plaintiffs' complaint for declaratory judgment which sought a determination as to the extent of coverage provided to plaintiffs under an automobile insurance policy issued to plaintiff Karen Stearns by Millers Mutual. On appeal, we consider whether the trial court was correct in finding that the policy's "per occurrence" limitation of $300,000 applied to plaintiffs' claims, rather than the $100,000 "per person" limitation. We affirm the trial court.

I. FACTS

Plaintiff, Karen Stearns, was covered under an automobile insurance policy issued by Millers Mutual. On May 14, 1994, while the policy was in effect, Karen's 14-year-old daughter, Melissa DeLache, was injured when she was riding as a passenger in an uninsured automobile. The parties agree that Melissa was covered as a "family member" under Karen's policy with Millers Mutual. On June 30, 1994, Melissa died from injuries sustained in the car accident. Besides her mother, Melissa is survived by her sister, plaintiff Jennifer DeLache, who is also covered under the policy as a "family member."

The automobile insurance policy issued to Karen by Millers Mutual provided for uninsured motorist coverage in the amounts of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence. After Melissa's death, Karen presented claims for medical bills for Melissa exceeding the $100,000-per-person limit of the policy. Millers Mutual tendered its $100,000-per-person limit and its $5,000 medical-bills limit. Plaintiffs rejected this tender, contending that they were entitled to separate recoveries up to the aggregate $300,000-per-occurrence limit, based on separate claims by the estate of Melissa DeLache and by each of the two plaintiffs, Melissa's mother and sister.

Under the uninsured-motorists provisions of the insurance policy issued to Karen, Millers Mutual agreed to:

"pay compensatory damages which an 'insured' is legally entitled to recover from the owner or operator of an 'uninsured motor vehicle' because of 'bodily injury':

1. Sustained by an 'insured'; and

2. Caused by an accident.

*** 'Insured' as used in this Part means:

1. You or any 'family member'.

2. Any other person 'occupying' 'your ...


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