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Allstate Insurance Co. v. Mathis

February 01, 1999

ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
DENISE MATHIS, KEITH MATHIS, WAYNE GRADY & CLAUDIA GRADY, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PARENTS OF THOMAS GRADY, DECEASED, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court for the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois No. 96--MR--13668

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Breslin

IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS

Honorable William Penn Judge, Presiding

Defendants Wayne and Claudia Grady, individually and as parents of Thomas Grady, deceased, appeal from the entry of summary judgment in favor of plaintiff Allstate Insurance Company (Allstate). The Gradys filed an action against the Mathises surrounding the tragic death of their son, Thomas. Allstate insured the Mathises under a renter's policy. The trial court found that the business activities exclusion of the Allstate policy precluded coverage and dismissed the insurer from the case. We agree and affirm.

FACTS

The Mathises and Gradys were close friends. After Thomas's birth, Denise Mathis agreed to baby-sit for Thomas and Bristiana Grady while Claudia Grady returned to work full-time. Denise took care of the two children for approximately 40 hours per week. Claudia provided the formula and diapers for Thomas. At the end of the first week of sitting, Claudia paid Denise $4 per hour for her services. A few weeks later, Denise informed Claudia that $4 per hour was too much and adjusted the fee to $3 per hour. Claudia testified in her deposition that at no time was Denise not paid for providing care for the children.

Approximately ten months after the arrangement began, Denise placed Thomas in a playpen for a nap. When she returned to check on the child, several blankets from a dresser adjacent to the playpen had fallen on top of Thomas, suffocating him. The Gradys filed suit alleging that the Mathises failed to properly supervise Thomas and failed to maintain the premises in a safe condition. The Mathises turned to their insurance carrier, Allstate, for coverage.

Allstate insured the Mathises under a renter's liability policy. The policy provided, in part:

"We do not cover bodily injury or property damage arising out of the past or present business activities of an insured person." It defined a "business" as:

"Any full or part-time activity of any kind engaged in for economic gain including the use of any part of any premises for such purposes. The providing of home day care services to other than an insured person or relative of an insured person for economic gain is also a business."

Relying on the business exclusion provision, Allstate filed a declaratory judgment action claiming that it owed no duty to defend or indemnify the Mathises under the policy. The parties agreed that the facts were primarily undisputed. After considering oral arguments, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Allstate. The Gradys appeal.

ANALYSIS

The Gradys primarily challenge the court's determination that the policy's business activities exclusion precludes coverage for the home day care services provided by Denise.

Summary judgment is appropriate when the pleadings, depositions and admissions on file show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment. 735 ILCS 5/2-1005 (West 1996). When the parties agree that the facts of a case are undisputed, we need only determine whether the trial court correctly ruled as a matter of law. Bryant v. Glen Oaks Medical Center, 272 Ill. App. 3d 640, 650 N.E.2d 622 (1995). This court reviews a ...


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