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Golf v. Henderson

August 29, 2007

SAMUEL GOLF, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
CARL HENDERSON AND STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, A CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 05L5753 The Honorable Daniel M. Locallo, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Greiman

Published opinion

Plaintiff, Samuel Golf, filed an amended complaint against defendants, insurance agent Carl Henderson and his employer State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (State Farm), alleging that defendants breached their contract to obtain for plaintiff a disability insurance policy that would pay him benefits in the event that he was injured in the course of his employment and was consequently unable to work. Plaintiff further alleged that defendants violated the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (the Consumer Fraud Act) (815 ILCS 505/1 et seq. (West 2004)) by misrepresenting, with intent that plaintiff rely on the misrepresentation, that the policy presented to plaintiff, and ultimately purchased by plaintiff, provided the requested coverage. The trial court granted defendants' motion to dismiss the amended complaint, finding that plaintiff was charged with knowing the contents of his policy and therefore could state neither a claim for breach of contract nor a claim for consumer fraud. Plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, plaintiff first contends that the consumer fraud count of his amended complaint was erroneously dismissed when he sufficiently stated a cause of action pursuant to section 2 of the Consumer Fraud Act. Plaintiff next contends that we should reverse the trial court's judgment and remand this case for further proceedings because Henderson breached his statutory duty pursuant to section 2-2201(a) of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-2201(a) (West 2004)) to exercise ordinary care in procuring plaintiff's policy. Finally, plaintiff contends that his duty to know the contents of the policy was "not absolute where [he] was misled by [defendants]," and that, therefore, dismissal of his amended complaint was erroneous.

According to the pleadings filed by plaintiff, on February 28, 2004, plaintiff visited Henderson's State Farm office and asked that Henderson obtain for him a disability insurance policy that would pay him benefits in the event that he was injured at his job as a concrete finisher. Henderson presented plaintiff with a policy that he said would provide benefits under those circumstances. However, the policy contained the following exclusion:

"This policy does not cover *** any other loss caused or contributed by:

***

(d) Injury or Sickness to the extent you are entitled to benefits under, or obtain any settlement related to, any Workers' Compensation or Occupational Diseases Law, or any other state disability law or program."

Henderson did not call plaintiff's attention to the exclusion and plaintiff purchased the policy on February 28, 2004.

Plaintiff was subsequently injured on the job on November 5, 2004, and was thereafter unable to work. Plaintiff received workers' compensation benefits as a result of his injury. State Farm denied plaintiff's claim for additional benefits under the disability insurance policy.

Plaintiff's initial complaint, in which he alleged that Henderson, as State Farm's employee,*fn1 was negligent in selling plaintiff the policy, which did not provide the benefits plaintiff had specifically requested, was filed on May 25, 2005.

Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on November 23, 2005, alleging that the cause of action was barred by the economic-loss doctrine, which provides that "recovery for economic loss-the loss of the benefit of one's bargain-ordinarily is available only in contract and not in tort" (Bernot v. Primus Corp., 278 Ill. App. 3d 751, 754 (1996)).

The trial court permitted plaintiff to file an amended complaint on February 3, 2006, in which plaintiff alleged that defendants had breached their contract with plaintiff to obtain a policy that would entitle him to benefits if he were injured at work and that, pursuant to the Consumer Fraud Act, defendants had misrepresented to plaintiff that under the policy they provided, he would be entitled to benefits if he were injured at work.

Defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaint on March 17, 2006. They alleged that the complaint should be dismissed pursuant to section 2-615 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 2004)) because plaintiff was charged as a matter of law with knowing the contents of his policy and therefore could state neither a claim of breach of contract nor a claim of consumer fraud and that the complaint should be dismissed pursuant to section 2-619 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 2004)) ...


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