Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Young v. Allstate Insurance Co.

June 30, 2004

[5] KARRY AND TOBEY YOUNG, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



[6] Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Paddy H. McNamara, Judge Presiding.

[7] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Gallagher

[8]  Plaintiffs Karry and Tobey Young appeal from the trial court's dismissal of the respondeat superior and estoppel counts in plaintiffs' second amended complaint. Plaintiffs also appeal the trial court's granting of summary judgment in favor of defendant Allstate Insurance Company (Allstate) and denial of partial summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs. This case arose due to a dispute between the parties regarding the type of insurance policy issued to plaintiffs and the amount of coverage provided under that policy. In this appeal, plaintiffs first contend that the trial court erroneously ruled that Allstate issued an actual cash value policy and not a stated value policy to the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs next contend that the trial court erroneously dismissed the respondeat superior and estoppel counts with prejudice because the dismissal of these counts was based on the trial court's erroneous ruling that Allstate issued an actual cash value policy. Plaintiffs also contend that the trial court erred in granting Allstate's motion for summary judgment based on the inclusion of an appraisal clause in the policy and that section 155 of the Illinois Insurance Code (215 ILCS 5/155 (West 2000)) preempts the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act (Consumer Fraud Act) (815 ILCS 505/1 et seq. (West 2000)) count. Plaintiffs further contend that the trial court erred in denying plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment because Allstate's failure to timely pay the undisputed portion of the insurance claim was unreasonable and vexatious. For the reasons stated below, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

[9]  I. BACKGROUND

[10]   The following facts are relevant to this appeal. In 1996, plaintiffs purchased a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible and fully restored the vehicle. Plaintiffs negotiated and procured a physical-damage insurance policy for the vehicle through Allstate's agent, Jacqueline Walton (Walton).*fn1 Plaintiffs informed Walton that the appraised value of the restored vehicle was approximately $30,000. Walton did not request additional information regarding the vehicle's value or conduct any further investigation concerning the vehicle's condition.

[11]   1 Plaintiffs insured seven vehicles with Allstate under the policy at issue in this appeal. The vehicles covered included "classic" and typical vehicles. The 1976 Cadillac and 1953 Mercedes would be considered "classic" vehicles. The 1994 Lexus, 1997 Chevrolet truck, 1986 Jaguar, 1995 Corvette and 1997 Oldsmobile mini-van would be considered typical vehicles. The auto collision and auto comprehensive coverage limits relating to the 1995 Corvette were actual cash value; for the 1976 Cadillac, those limits were $30,000 or actual cash value; and for the 1953 Mercedes, those limits were $50,000 or actual cash value.

[12]   The 1976 Cadillac Eldorado was involved in a collision on July 19, 1998. On or about August 5, 1998, Allstate declared the vehicle a "total loss." Plaintiffs submitted a claim to Allstate for $30,000 in benefits. Allstate responded that the policy covered the actual cash value of the vehicle at the time of loss. Allstate offered plaintiffs $8,685 to settle the property damage claim. Plaintiffs responded that they restored the vehicle and believed they purchased a stated value policy insuring the vehicle for $30,000. Allstate then offered plaintiffs $9,600 to settle the claim. Plaintiffs rejected this offer. Both parties arranged for the vehicle's appraisal, which resulted in an appraised value of $12,000 on October 2, 1998. On June 28, 2000, Allstate sent plaintiffs' counsel a check for $12,000 as satisfaction of the undisputed amount.

[13]   Plaintiffs retained counsel because they insisted that the policy provided stated value coverage of $30,000, but Allstate insisted it was liable for the vehicle's actual cash value at the time of loss, which was appraised at $12,000.

[14]   Plaintiffs alternatively contended that if Allstate issued an actual cash value policy, then Walton was negligent for failing to procure the type and amount of coverage requested. Plaintiffs contacted Allstate and requested payment of $30,000 for the claim based on its agent's negligent actions. Allstate denied the claim. As a result, plaintiffs filed the underlying suit.

[15]   On July 19, 1999, plaintiffs filed a complaint against Allstate and Walton alleging breach of contract (count I), negligence (count II) and bad faith (count III). On February 1, 2000, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint alleging breach of contract (count I), negligence (count II), bad faith (count III), estoppel (count IV) and consumer fraud (count V). On November 14, 2000, plaintiffs filed their second amended complaint alleging breach of contract (count I), respondeat superior (count II), bad faith (count III), estoppel (count IV) and consumer fraud (count V). On March 12, 2001, Allstate filed its answer and affirmative defenses to the bad faith and consumer fraud counts of plaintiffs' second amended complaint, and a motion to strike and dismiss the respondeat superior and estoppel counts.

[16]   On August 9, 2001, the trial court issued a memorandum opinion and order dismissing the respondeat superior and estoppel counts with prejudice. On July 2, 2002, Allstate filed its motion for summary judgment. On August 1, 2002, plaintiffs filed their motion for partial summary judgment. On January 22, 2003, the trial court denied plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment and granted summary judgment in favor of Allstate and against plaintiffs on all pending counts of plaintiffs' second amended complaint. Plaintiffs timely appealed.

[17]   II. ANALYSIS

[18]   Plaintiffs raise three issues on appeal. First, plaintiffs contend that the trial court erred in finding that the policy was an actual cash value policy and not a stated value policy. Second, plaintiffs contend that the trial court erred in dismissing the respondeat superior and estoppel counts with prejudice. Finally, plaintiffs contend that the trial court erred in granting Allstate's motion for summary judgment and denying plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment.

[19]   A. Nature of the Policy Issued

[20]   Plaintiffs' first issue on appeal is that the trial court erroneously held plaintiffs procured an actual cash value and not a stated value policy from Allstate. Plaintiffs' contention that a stated value policy was procured rests with documents contained in the record, primarily four documents generated by Allstate and the language included on the policy declaration page. First, plaintiffs rely on a letter dated December 17, 1998, written by Allstate that stated in part: "[W]e believe Jacqueline Walton acted in good faith when she sold a stated value policy to Mr. Young. *** If you have any further questions regarding our agent, or the stated value policy please contact me at 630-932-6124." Second, plaintiffs rely on a claim diary entry dated September 10, 1998, regarding an internal conversation with Walton concerning the loss that stated in part: "[A]sked why she chose stated value policy over regular collision for the car. She states insd stated it was a classic and he had it appraised at $30,000 ***." Plaintiffs next rely on the policy declaration pages, which provide different collision and comprehensive coverage for the two "classic" vehicles and the other typical vehicles. Plaintiffs contend that the premium they paid for the 1976 Cadillac was comparable to the premium for the 1995 Corvette. Plaintiffs suggest this creates an inference that Allstate valued the vehicle for premium purposes at a value in excess of $30,000. Finally, plaintiffs compare Allstate's underwriting file for the 1995 Corvette, which leaves the stated value line blank, whereas the stated value line relating to the 1976 Cadillac was filled in with a value of $30,000. Plaintiffs contend that these four documents conclusively established that Allstate sold plaintiffs a stated value policy.

[21]   In response, Allstate contends that the policy's language is unambiguous and the policy is an actual cash value policy. Allstate claims the policy is unambiguous because it contained the words "$30,000 or actual cash value" under the "Limits" heading on the declaration page. Allstate also claims that if a court can determine the meaning of the language used in a contract, the express provisions govern and no construction or inquiry regarding intent is required. Brzozowski v. Northern Trust Co., 248 Ill. App. 3d 95, 99, 618 N.E.2d 405, 409 (1993). Allstate further claims that under the "four corners rule," a written agreement must be presumed to speak the intention of the parties who signed it and the intentions regarding its execution must be determined from the language used, unchanged by extrinsic evidence. Air Safety, Inc. v. Teachers Realty Corp., 185 Ill. 2d 457, 462, 706 N.E.2d 882, 884 (1999). Since the language used in the policy is unambiguous, Allstate claims, it is unnecessary to consider the documents plaintiffs identified in their brief, such as the letter dated December 17, 1998, and internal diary notes, to determine the policy's meaning.

[22]   Allstate further responds that several provisions included in the policy are inconsistent and contradictory with those included in a stated value policy. Allstate claims that interpreting the policy as a stated value policy renders multiple provisions of the contract meaningless and the word "limit" on the declaration page must be ignored. Specifically, Allstate points to the limits of liability provision, which states:

[23]   Limits of Liability Our limit of liability is the actual cash value of the property or damaged part of the property at the time of loss. The actual cash value will be reduced by the deductible for each coverage as shown on the policy declarations. However, our liability will not exceed what it would cost to repair or replace the property or part with other of like kind and quality. Our limit for loss to any covered trailer not described on the policy declarations is $500.

[24]   Allstate also points to the right to appraisal provision, which states: Right to Appraisal Both you and Allstate have a right to demand an appraisal of the loss. Each will appoint and pay a qualified appraiser. Other appraisal expenses will be shared equally. The two appraisers, or a judge of record, will choose an umpire. Each appraiser will state the actual cash value and the amount of loss. If they disagree, they'll submit their ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.