The opinion of the court was delivered by: BLANCHE MANNING, District Judge
On April 22, 2004, plaintiff Judy DeLaTorre filed a complaint
against Minnesota Life Insurance Co. ("defendant"), the issuer of
an accidental death insurance policy for her and her deceased
husband, Sergio DeLaTorre ("DeLaTorre"), alleging breach of
contract for failure to pay insurance benefits. Before the court
is defendant's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c). For the following reasons, the
court grants defendant's motion.
On or about April 20, 2000, defendant issued a certificate for
accidental death coverage ("the Policy") to Sergio DeLaTorre and
plaintiff Judy DeLaTorre. The relevant Policy language provides:
Death by accidental injury as used in this
certificate means that your death results, directly
and independently . . . from an accidental injury
which was unintended, unexpected, and unforeseen. . . .
In no event will we pay the accidental death
benefit if your death results from or is caused
directly by any of the following: . . . (2) your commission of a
On May 19, 2003, DeLaTorre died from injuries sustained when
the automobile he was driving collided head on with a light post.
The medical examiner's death certificate indicates the cause of
death was multiple injuries as a result of an automobile
On or about June 2, 2003, plaintiff submitted a claim for
accidental death benefits. In response, the defendant requested
and received DeLaTorre's driving record, which showed that
DeLaTorre had been convicted of driving under the influence on
October 7, 1991, May 23, 1993, May 26, 2002, and charged with
driving under the influence on April 29, 2003. Moreover, his
driver's license had been revoked on three occasions. The
defendant also requested and received a toxicology
analysis*fn1 performed by the Office of the Medical
Examiner, Cook County, Illinois, which indicated that, at the
time of his death, DeLaTorre's blood was positive for alcohol
at.23mg/dl and for morphine at .293mg/dl.
Dr. Tae Lyong An is a pathologist and the Assistant Medical
Examiner for Cook County. Dr. An's duties include examining
bodies and determining the cause and manner of death. Dr. An has
no training as an accident reconstructionist or engineer, nor is
he a toxicologist. In his role as a pathologist, however, Dr. An
testified during his deposition for the instant case that the
effects of a blood alcohol level of .23mg/dl, as is DeLaTorre's
case, include impaired judgment, impaired visual acuity and
delayed reaction time, and that a morphine level of .293mg/dl can
cause impaired judgment and muscular coordination, dizziness,
drowsiness, hypotension, respiratory compression, coma, and
death. Dr. An further testified that the cause of the accident was alcohol and morphine intoxication.
Regarding the toxicology report, Dr. An testified that
toxicology reports can take a few weeks to be completed. Dr. An
testified that he believed that all policies and procedures were
followed in the completion of the toxicology report, and that the
toxicology report was a true and accurate report of the blood and
urine samples taken from DeLaTorre. Moreover, he stated that he
had no reason to believe that the analysis had not been properly
After receiving DeLaTorre's driving history and a copy of the
toxicology report, the defendant denied benefits, stating that
DeLaTorre's death was foreseeable and thus failed to satisfy the
Policy's definition of an accident. Furthermore, the defendant
denied coverage on the basis that both DeLaTorre's toxicology
report and driving record evidenced the commission of a felony
and thereby voided the defendant's contractual obligation to pay
Although the court finds that under Illinois law, DeLaTorre's
death would not be considered foreseeable, the court concludes
that the death resulted from or was directly caused by a felony.
Accordingly, because the court finds that the felony exclusion
applies, defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted.
II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Summary judgment is proper when "the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with
the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A genuine issue
of material fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party."
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The
party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing the lack of any genuine issue of material fact.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The
existence of a factual dispute is not sufficient to defeat a
summary judgment motion, instead the non-moving party must
present definite, competent evidence to rebut the movant's
asserted facts. Butts v. Aurora Health Care, Inc.,
387 F.3d 921, 924 (7th Cir. 2004).
A. Foreseeable and Accidental
The defendant first argues that accidental death benefits are
not payable because DeLaTorre's death was foreseeable and
therefore not an accident. As to whether the death was
accidental, Illinois maintains a liberal attitude in its
interpretation of "accident" as it pertains to insurance
policies. Specifically, the Illinois Supreme Court has stated
that accidental means is synonymous with accidental result and
has defined an accident as "something which happens by chance or
fortuitously, without intention or design, and which is
unexpected, unusual and unforeseen." Taylor v. John Hancock
Mutual Life Ins. Co., 142 N.E.2d 5, 6 (Ill. 1957) (holding
arsonist's death in fire an accident for insurance purposes since
arsonist did not intend fire to start when it did); see also
Lyons v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., 811 N.E.2d 718 (Ill.
App. Ct. 2004) ("If an act is performed with the intention of
accomplishing a certain result, and . . . another ...