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State Farm Fire and Casualty Company v. Thomas Young

April 20, 2012


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 10 CH 00998 The Honorable Michael B. Hyman,

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Garcia

Judge Presiding. JUSTICE GARCIA delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Justices Lampkin and Palmer concurred in the judgment and opinion.


¶ 1 The circuit court granted judgment on the pleadings to plaintiff State Farm in a declaratory judgment action seeking a determination that it was not obligated to defend its insured in a civil suit for assault and battery and for claims of negligence. The suit alleged that the defendant provided heroin to a young woman and, when she became seriously ill from an overdose, he beat her severely and failed to seek medical help for the victim, resulting in her death. State Farm's motion argued that it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law because the insurance policies at issue covered only accidental injuries. On de novo review, we agree with the circuit court that no material question of fact existed under the facts alleged in the underlying complaint and that only one conclusion reasonably followed from the allegations in the underlying civil suit: the injuries were intentionally caused by the insured. It follows that State Farm owed no duty to defend the defendant. We affirm.


¶ 3 On June 29, 2008, the defendant, Thomas Young, was 21 years old and was living in his parents' home in Prospect Heights, Illinois. The defendant invited the victim, Gina Dominick, to his home. He told her he had purchased some heroin and offered to share it with her. Sometime in the early morning hours, Gina died from the combination of an overdose and injuries from a beating. Her body was found the next morning at 10:45 a.m. in her car parked in the parking lot of the Prospect Heights Public Library.

¶ 4 Gina's father, Michael Dominick, as administrator of her estate, filed a civil suit against the defendant and his parents, Chester and Teresa Young. Only the allegations against the defendant in the underlying complaint are relevant to this appeal. The complaint alleged the following facts. The defendant bought heroin and provided it to Gina at his parents' home. After taking the drugs, Gina suffered an overdose and became violently ill. The defendant began severely beating Gina without provocation or justification. Despite knowing that Gina's condition was critical, the defendant failed to call 911, take her to a hospital, or seek medical attention. Gina died as a result of her injuries and her drugged condition at the defendant's home. The defendant then carried her body to her car, drove the car to the library parking lot, abandoned the car, and walked home. Once at home, he attempted to clean up "massive amounts of Gina Dominick's blood."

¶ 5 The estate's complaint sought damages for wrongful death, pain and suffering, and burial expenses. The complaint alleged that the defendant was liable for battery in beating Gina and that he was liable for negligently failing to procure medical assistance for Gina. In conjunction with the negligence claims, the complaint specifically alleged that the defendant "carelessly and negligently failed to take [Gina] to a hospital." The defendant, as a resident of his parents' home, sought coverage from State Farm for his defense of the the estate's complaint and for indemnification in the event of a judgment.

¶ 6 The defendant's parents were the listed insureds in a homeowners insurance policy and a personal liability umbrella policy from State Farm. The homeowners policy provided coverage for "a suit *** against an insured for damages because of bodily injury or property damage *** caused by an occurrence." For a covered "occurrence," State Farm would provide a defense and pay damages. The policy defined "occurrence" as "an accident, including exposure to conditions which results in *** bodily injury." The policy expressly excluded coverage for "[b]odily injury or property damage: (1) which is either expected or intended by the insured; or (2) which is the result of willful and malicious acts of the insured." Under the umbrella policy, State Farm would pay damages and defend against a claim resulting from a "loss." It defined a "loss" as "an accident, including injurious exposure to conditions, which results in bodily injury or property damage." The umbrella policy excluded coverage arising from "bodily injury or property damage: a. which is either expected or intended by you [the insured]; or b. to any person or property which is the result of your willful and malicious act, no matter at whom the act was directed."

¶ 7 Citing these provisions, State Farm filed a declaratory judgment complaint, contending the injuries sustained by Gina were not accidental; rather, the injuries were caused by the defendant's intentional acts, which precluded a duty to defend on the part of State Farm.

After the defendant filed his answer, State Farm moved for judgment on the pleadings. State Farm argued that the undisputed facts in the underlying complaint by the estate fell outside the coverage provided by the policies and, in fact, fell within the exclusion provisions of both policies. State Farm also contended that to find coverage for the injuries involved in this case would violate public policy, which seeks to deter individuals from providing drugs to others.

¶ 8 The circuit court ruled State Farm had no duty to defend the defendant and granted its motion for judgment on the pleadings. In its oral announcement, the court stated that the allegations against the defendant "did not constitute an accident." The court cited Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. v. Freyer, 89 Ill. App. 3d 617 (1980), for the proposition that consequences desired or reasonably anticipated by an actor are not accidental injuries compensable by insurance. The court noted that the defendant had pleaded guilty to criminal battery; it found the defendant's acts of providing Gina with heroin and of beating her were willful and malicious. Accordingly, neither the homeowners policy nor the umbrella policy covered the "occurrence" or "loss." The court did not address State Farm's public policy argument. The defendant appeals.


¶ 10 The defendant raises three issues: (1) whether questions of material fact exist to preclude judgment on the pleadings; (2) whether the underlying pleadings "can be construed to allege" injuries that constituted an "occurrence" or a "loss" as defined by the insurance policies; and (3) whether it is "not clear and free from doubt" that the exclusion provisions of the two policies apply because the circuit court improperly invoked collateral estoppel arising from his battery conviction.

¶ 11 A motion for judgment on the pleadings asserts the allegations in the pleadings and the exhibits to the pleadings, which are considered part of the pleadings, permit only one disposition as a matter of law. Employers Insurance of Wausau v. Ehlco Liquidating Trust, 186 Ill. 2d 127, 138-39 (1999). Judgment on the pleadings is proper only if no genuine issue of material fact exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Gillen v. State Farm Mutual ...

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