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Maka v. Illinois Farmers Insurance Co.

June 28, 2002

JOZEF MAKA, SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF EDYTA MAKA, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ILLINOIS FARMERS INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 00 CH 7935 Honorable Sophia Hall, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Gallagher

UNPUBLISHED

Plaintiff, Jozef Maka, appeals from a grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant, Illinois Farmers Insurance Company (Farmers). Maka's motion to reconsider the trial court's ruling was denied, and this appeal followed. On appeal, Maka contends the trial court should have allowed him to stack the coverages under two policies due to ambiguity in the provisions.

Maka purchased two insurance policies from Farmers that provided insurance coverage to him and his family for bodily injury or death resulting from an automobile accident. Each policy covered one automobile. In addition to uninsured coverage, the endorsement to both policies included underinsured insurance coverage. The limits of the liability of the underinsured coverage are $100,000 in one policy (Policy 15) and $50,000 in another (Policy 16), for a total of $150,000 in underinsured coverage.

On December 25, 1998, Maka's daughter, Edyta Maka, was involved in a fatal automobile accident while she was a passenger in a vehicle. The driver of the automobile, David Kierner, had insurance coverage with limits of liability of $20,000. As a result of the accident, $20,000 was paid to Edyta Maka's estate by Equitable Insurance Company (Equitable), Kierner's insurance provider. Maka made a demand to Farmers for underinsured motorist benefits under his two policies.

In response to Maka's demand, Farmers paid Maka $80,000. This payment represents the $100,000 underinsured limit of liability for Policy 15, minus the $20,000 payment received from Equitable. Farmers made no payment on Policy 16. Farmers' refusal to pay the liability amount on Policy 16 led Maka to file an action in the circuit court on May 24, 2000, seeking a declaratory judgment that would entitle him to the $50,000 of additional underinsured coverage provided through Policy 16.

Both policies contained the following antistacking provision:

"Part II -UNINSURED MOTORIST

Limits of Coverage

The amounts shown in the Declaration are the limits of liability for Uninsured Motorist which apply subject to the following:

4. We will pay no more than the limits shown in the Declarations of this policy regardless of the number of vehicles insured, insured persons, claims, claimants, policies or vehicles involved in the occurrence. The limits provided by this policy may not be stacked or combined with the limits provided by any other policy issued to you or a family member by any member company of the Farmers Insurance Group of Companies." (Emphasis in original.)

The endorsements to both policies state:

"Coverage C-1 - UNDERinsured Motorist Coverage

For an additional premium it is agreed that UNDERinsured Motorist Coverage C-1 is added to Part II of your policy. All of the terms and conditions of Part II - Uninsured Motorist Coverage C - apply to UNDERinsured Motorist Coverage C-1 in addition ...


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