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Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company, Allstate v. Richard Mahoney and Tara Mahoney

November 1, 2011

ALLSTATE PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, ALLSTATE
INSURANCE COMPANY, AND ALLSTATE INDEMNITY COMPANY, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,
v.
RICHARD MAHONEY AND TARA MAHONEY, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS
MICHAEL FRONTIER,
DEFENDANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 10-MR-468 Honorable Bonnie M. Wheaton, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Schostok

JUSTICE SCHOSTOK delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Hutchinson and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 The defendants, Richard Mahoney and Tara Mahoney, appeal from the November 11, 2010, order of the circuit court of Du Page County granting judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company, Allstate Insurance Company, and Allstate Indemnity Company (collectively, Allstate), on their complaint for declaratory judgment. Allstate's complaint sought a declaration that it was not obligated to provide insurance coverage to defendant Michael Frontier for a motorcycle accident that injured Richard Mahoney. Richard Mahoney was injured while test-driving a motorcycle when the brake pedal, which Frontier had installed, broke off. On appeal, the Mahoneys argue that the trial court erred in determining that Allstate did not have a duty to defend Frontier due to the motor vehicle exclusion in the applicable insurance policy. Specifically, the Mahoneys argue that the motor vehicle exclusion does not apply because (1) the motorcycle was not a motor vehicle but rather a "motorized land conveyance"; (2) the motorcycle was in dead storage at the time of the accident; and (3) Richard Mahoney's injuries arose from Frontier's negligent attachment of the brake pedal. We affirm.

¶ 2 On July 6, 2007, Frontier was working on a motorcycle he owned at Xtreme City Motorsports, which was a garage owned by Richard Mahoney in Carol Stream. After welding the brake pedal to the motorcycle, Frontier directed Richard Mahoney to test-drive the motorcycle. Richard Mahoney then exited the parking lot at Xtreme City Motorsports and drove south on Kimberly Drive. Shortly after leaving the parking lot, Richard Mahoney attempted to apply the brake and the brake pedal snapped off. Richard Mahoney was subsequently injured when the motorcycle crashed.

¶ 3 On July 6, 2009, Richard Mahoney and Tara Mahoney filed a two-count complaint against Frontier sounding in negligence and loss of consortium. Allstate defended Frontier based on a homeowner's policy that it had issued to Frontier's parents. Allstate also indicated that it was defending Frontier under a reservation of rights. On April 1, 2010, Allstate filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration that it had no duty to defend or indemnify Frontier with respect to the Mahoneys' lawsuit.

¶ 4 On September 2, 2010, the Mahoneys filed an amended complaint against Frontier. On September 9, 2010, Allstate filed an amended complaint for declaratory judgment. On September 30, 2010, Allstate filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. On November 8, 2010, following a hearing, the trial court granted Allstate's motion. The trial court held that: (1) the motorcycle was a motor vehicle; (2) the bodily injury claim arose out of the ownership and maintenance of the motorcycle; and (3) the motorcycle was not in dead storage. Accordingly, the trial court determined that no liability coverage was provided under the Allstate homeowner's policy. On December 7, 2010, the Mahoneys filed a timely notice of appeal.

¶ 5 On appeal, the Mahoneys argue that the trial court erred in granting Allstate's motion for judgment on the pleadings. The Mahoneys contend that the trial court erred in determining that Allstate was not obligated to defend Frontier due to the motor vehicle exclusion under the relevant insurance policy. Specifically, the Mahoneys argue that the motor vehicle exclusion did not apply because (1) the motorcycle was not a motor vehicle; (2) the motorcycle was in dead storage at the time of the accident; and (3) Frontier's alleged negligence was not vehicle-related.

¶ 6 A judgment on the pleadings is appropriate "where the pleadings disclose no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Gillen v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., 215 Ill. 2d 381, 385 (2005). All well-pleaded facts and reasonable inferences in the pleadings are taken as true. Id. Only facts apparent on the face of the pleadings, matters subject to judicial notice, and admissions in the record are considered by the court in ruling on a motion for judgment on the pleadings. Id. Thus, in the absence of any issues of material fact, we must determine whether the movant was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

¶ 7 The general rules that govern the interpretation of other types of contracts also govern the interpretation of insurance contracts. Hobbs v. Hartford Insurance Co. of the Midwest, 214 Ill. 2d 11, 17 (2005). When we interpret an insurance policy, our primary goal is to ascertain and give effect to the parties' intent as expressed in the language of the policy. Id. The proper interpretation of an insurance contract is a question of law, which we review de novo. Hanson v. Lumley Trucking, LLC, 403 Ill. App. 445, 447 (2010).

¶ 8 Allstate argues that it did not have a duty to defend under the exclusions listed in section II of the homeowner's policy issued to Frontier's parents, which stated in pertinent part:

"5. We do not cover bodily injury or property damage arising out of the ownership, maintenance, use, occupancy, renting, loaning, entrusting, loading or unloading of any motor vehicle or trailer. However, this exclusion does not apply to:

a) a motor vehicle in dead storage or used exclusively on an insured premises."

ΒΆ 9 The parties' insurance contract did not define the term "motor vehicle." The term is defined by Webster's dictionary as "[a] self-propelled motor-powered vehicle that does not run on rails but travels on wheels." Webster's II New Riverside Dictionary 460 (1984). This definition is consistent with the definition of "motor vehicle" provided in the Illinois ...


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