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Pekin Insurance Company v. Tovar Snow Professionals

May 8, 2012

PEKIN INSURANCE COMPANY,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
TOVAR SNOW PROFESSIONALS, INC., AND ANN HOLLAND,
DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 10 CH 16348 Honorable Peter A. Flynn, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Quinn

PRESIDING JUSTICE QUINN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Cunningham and Harris concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 Pekin Insurance Company (Pekin), a commercial general liability insurer, brought an action against Tovar Snow Professionals, Inc. (Tovar), and Ann Holland for a declaratory judgment that Pekin did not owe Tovar a duty to defend in the underlying lawsuit brought by Ann Holland for alleged personal injuries due to Tovar's negligent snow removal activities. The circuit court entered summary judgment in favor of Tovar and against Pekin. Pekin appeals the judgment.

¶ 2 Background

¶ 3 This case originated via a slip and fall negligence lawsuit filed in the circuit court by Ann Holland against Tovar and Dunleavy Concrete, Inc. (Dunleavy), arising out of their snow and ice removal activities where Holland fell. Tovar tendered the defense of the Holland lawsuit to Pekin pursuant to the terms of Tovar's subcontract with Dunleavy. Pekin had issued a commercial general liability insurance policy to the subcontractor Dunleavy for the period in question which covered Tovarvia a blanket automatic additional insured endorsement applicable to any written contract Dunleavy entered into requiring such coverage. Pekin denied coverage and sought a declaratory judgment absolving it from any responsibility.

¶ 4 Pekin and Tovar filed cross-motions for summary judgment regarding Tovar's claim that it is covered under the Pekin insurance policy issued to Dunleavy. Pekin argued that the insurance policy it issued to Dunleavy restricted additional coverage endorsements only to construction contracts and did not include activities related to snow and ice removal because the word "construction" appeared as a limiting adjective in the endorsement heading in the insurance contract.

¶ 5 The trial court ruled that pursuant to applicable Illinois law, an isolated, undefined word in a title or heading cannot operate to modify or restrict insurance coverage that is otherwise expressly conveyed in the text of an insurance policy. The trial court ruled that because the text of the insurance policy issued by Pekin plainly and clearly afforded coverage to Tovar, it granted summary judgment in favor of Tovar and against Pekin. For the reasons stated herein, this court affirms the circuit court ruling.

¶ 6 Standard of Review

¶ 7 The applicable standard of review for a ruling on a motion for summary judgment is de novo. Home Insurance Co.v. Cincinnati Insurance Co.,213 Ill. 2d 307, 315 (2004).

¶ 8 Analysis

¶ 9 Summary judgment is appropriate when there are no genuine issues of material fact and when the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Kajima Construction Services, Inc. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co., 227 Ill. 2d 102, 106 (2007). In this insurance coverage dispute , the parties agree that there are no material factual disputes. The sole dispute concerns whether or not the construction of the insurance policy affords Tovar the ability to tender its defense of the underlyingHollandnegligence lawsuit to Pekin.

ΒΆ 10 Tovar, relying on the fact that it was an additional insured under the insurance policy Pekin issued to Dunleavy, tendered its ...


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