The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge
Removed from the Circuit Court of Madison County, Illinois, this lawsuit challenges Minnesota Life Insurance Company (MLIC)'s refusal to pay accidental death benefits after Brian Woods died in a single-vehicle accident. Brian's widow, Dawn Kay-Woods (Plaintiff), maintains that MLIC improperly refused to pay benefits under an insurance policy that provided "payoff" coverage on the Woods' home mortgage loan, the amount of which was $61,887.00 when Brian died. Plaintiff's August 2008 amended complaint alleges that MLIC's actions constitute breach of contract and vexatious/unreasonable refusal to settle under Illinois law (215 ILCS § 5/155).
In previous Orders, the undersigned Judge found subject matter jurisdiction to lie under the federal diversity statute (see Doc. 19) and dismissed Plaintiff's claim under the Illinois consumer fraud statute, because "breach of a contractual promise, without more, is not actionable under the [Illinois] Consumer Fraud Act" (see Doc. 32, p. 8, quoting Avery v. State Farm Mutual Auto Ins. Co., 835 N.E.2d 801, 844 (Ill. 2005)). Now before the Court are cross-motions for summary judgment, which were fully briefed as of October 3, 2008. Analysis begins with the standards governing such motions.
B. Applicable Legal Standards
Summary judgment is appropriate where there are no genuine issues of material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Breneisen v. Motorola, Inc., 512 F.3d 972 (7th Cir. 2008), citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c), Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986), and Krieg v. Seybold, 481 F.3d 512, 516 (7th Cir. 2007). Accord Levy v. Minnesota Life Ins. Co., 517 F.3d 519 (7th Cir. 2008).
In ruling on a summary judgment motion, this Court must view in the light most favorable to the non-movant the evidence plus all inferences reasonably drawn from the evidence. TAS Distributing Co., Inc. v. Cummins Engine Co., Inc., 491 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2007); Reynolds v. Jamison, 488 F.3d 756, 764 (7th Cir. 2007).
When cross-motions for summary judgment are filed, "we look to the burden of proof that each party would bear on an issue of trial; we then require that party to go beyond the pleadings and affirmatively to establish a genuine issue of material fact." Diaz v. Prudential Ins. Co. of America, 499 F.3d 640, 643 (7th Cir. 2007), quoting Santaella v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 123 F.3d 456, 461 (7th Cir. 1997).
As the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit stated last month:
When, as in this case, the parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment, "we construe the evidence and all reasonable inferences in favor of the party against whom the motions under consideration is made."
Jefferson v. United States, -- F.3d --, 2008 WL 4490126 (7th Cir. Oct. 8, 2008), quoting Samuelson v. LaPorte Community School Corp., 526 F.3d 1046, 1051 (7th Cir. 2008). Accord Tate v. Long Term Disability Plan, -- F.3d --, 2008 WL 4276593 (7th Cir. Sept. 19, 2008); Aux-Sable Liquid Products v. Murphy, 526 F.3d 1028, 1032 (7th Cir. 2008).
The nonmoving party cannot succeed by resting on its pleadings. Rather, the non-movant (i.e., the party opposing the adverse litigant's motion) must provide evidence on which the jury or court could find in its/his favor. See Maclin v. SBC Ameritech, 520 F.3d 781, 786 (7th Cir. 2008).
The substantive law of Illinois applies in this diversity action, and under Illinois law the interpretation of an insurance policy is a question of law properly decided via summary judgment. BASF AG v. Great American Assurance Co., 522 F.3d 813, 818-19 (7th Cir. 2008), citing Crum & Forster Managers Corp. v. Resolution Trust Corp., 620 N.E.2d 1073, 1077 (Ill. 1993). A court's primary objective in construing the terms of an insurance policy is to give effect to the parties' intentions, as expressed by the language ...