APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. HONORABLE ARTHUR DUNNE, JUDGE PRESIDING.
Released for Publication June 25, 1997.
Presiding Justice Wolfson delivered the opinion of the court. McNAMARA and Cerda, JJ., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wolfson
PRESIDING JUSTICE WOLFSON delivered the opinion of the court:
In this insurance coverage case the trial court first had to determine which state's law governs the parties' rights and obligations. The answer to that question determines whether the insurance companies had to reimburse Maremont Corporation (Maremont) for money it spent settling a lawsuit filed by a corporation that owned a South Carolina site allegedly polluted by Maremont.
The trial court drew the issue: if South Carolina law controls, the insurance companies do not have to reimburse Maremont. If Illinois law controls, they do.
The trial court applied South Carolina law. All claims for reimbursement for settlement costs concerning the South Carolina site were dismissed by way of summary judgment. Because we conclude that Illinois law should have been applied, we reverse and remand.
The facts that apply to the defendants' summary judgment motions are not disputed. The case before us concerns Maremont's claims against four of its insurance companies in connection with a single site in South Carolina. We set out those facts necessary to a resolution of Maremont's appeal. Because the case involves summary judgment based on a choice of law issue, our review is de novo. Malatesta v. Mitsubishi Aircraft International, Inc., 275 Ill. App. 3d 370, 384, 655 N.E.2d 1093, 211 Ill. Dec. 710 (1995).
Maremont manufactures automotive parts. It was founded in Chicago, Illinois in 1877. Maremont is now a Delaware corporation that conducts its business out of Chicago.
The defendants are Edward William Cheshire (Cheshire), American Motorists Insurance Company (AMICO), Continental Insurance Company (Continental), and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company (Liberty Mutual).
Cheshire, AMICO, and Continental provided Maremont with standard excess policies. Liberty Mutual issued comprehensive general liability policies to Maremont.
The Cheshire policy promised to indemnify Maremont for:
"all sums which the Assured shall be obligated to pay by reason of the liability *** for damages, direct or consequential and expenses, all as more fully defined by the term 'ultimate net loss' on account of *** Property Damage *** caused by or arising out of each occurrence happening anywhere in the world."
The Cheshire policy defined "ultimate net loss" as "the total sum which the Assured *** become[s] obligated to pay by the reason of *** property damage *** either through adjudication or compromise and shall also include *** all sums paid *** for litigation, settlement, adjustment and investigation of claims and suits which are paid as a consequence of any occurrence ***."
The other policies contained similar language.
Maremont purchased policies from Cheshire that provided coverage between 1962 and 1968. When Maremont bought the policies, Cheshire conducted business in Illinois. At that time, Maremont was an Illinois corporation. Chicago was Maremont's principal place of business. The policies were negotiated in Chicago. Notice was to be given to ...