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David Ahle v. D. Chandler

March 23, 2012

DAVID AHLE,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
D. CHANDLER, INC.,
DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County. No. 09-L-814 Honorable Ann Callis, Judge, presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Goldenhersh

NOTICE 2012 IL App (5th) 100346

The text of this decision may be changed or corrected prior to the filing of a Petition for Rehearing or the disposition of the same.

JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Stewart concurred in the judgment and opinion.

Justice Spomer dissented, with opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 Plaintiff, David Ahle, appeals from an order of the circuit court of Madison County entering summary judgment in favor of defendant, D. Chandler, Inc. On appeal, plaintiff argues the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of defendant. We reverse and remand.

¶ 2 BACKGROUND

¶ 3 On August 9, 2007, plaintiff was involved in an automobile accident with a Pizza Man pizza delivery vehicle being driven by Michael Whitelaw. Whitelaw was an employee of

D. Chandler, Inc., doing business as Pizza Man. Plaintiff retained an attorney, Christopher Donohoo, to represent him in the matter. Mr. Whitelaw was insured by Allstate Insurance, and Pizza Man was insured by State Farm.

¶ 4 On March 9, 2009, plaintiff submitted a joint demand of $400,000 to Allstate and to State Farm via claims representatives Ms. Judy Creamer (Allstate) and Ms. Laurice Rollins (State Farm). In the letter, Donohoo explained that plaintiff (1) sustained injuries to his neck and shoulder during the accident, (2) was in need of surgery, (3) already incurred $24,000 in medical expenses, (4) would need surgery that would cost between $47,000 to $57,000, with the possibility of additional surgeries, and (5) cannot work and has lost and will continue "losing several hundred thousand dollars in future wages." Donohoo also explained that plaintiff's wage statements showed he earned between $60,000 and $65,000 during the previous five years.

¶ 5 On April 13, 2009, Ms. Rollins responded to attorney Donohoo's demand letter, stating in pertinent part as follows:

"As I previously explained the State Farm policy would be excess to the liability coverage provided by Allstate Insurance. Insurance follows the car in the state of Illinois.

If and when the Allstate liability insurance is exhausted, will I then be required to review for additional consideration and payment as an excess policy." Ultimately, Allstate tendered its policy limits of $100,000 to settle the bodily injury claim of plaintiff.

¶ 6 On May 8, 2009, Mr. Donohoo informed State Farm through Ms. Rollins that Allstate had tendered its policy limit and requested that State Farm indicate whether it planned to make a settlement offer. Donohoo explained that if State Farm was not going to settle, he planned "to file a lawsuit against Pizza Man by the end of the month."

¶ 7 On May 12, 2009, Ms. Rollins requested proof of Allstate's policy limits and confirmation that such limits had been tendered. The following day, Donohoo sent Rollins a copy of the letter he received from Allstate that tendered the policy limits. Throughout May and June 2009, Donohoo sent follow-up letters, plaintiff's medical records, and a copy of a disability decision by the Social Security Administration favorable to plaintiff to Ms. Rollins in the hope of settling the personal injury claim.

ΒΆ 8 On July 6, 2009, plaintiff agreed to accept the $100,000 policy limit offer of Allstate on behalf of Michael Whitelaw. A release was executed on July 10, ...


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