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Indiana Ins. Co. v. Royce Realty and Management, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

May 30, 2013

INDIANA INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
ROYCE REALTY AND MANAGEMENT, INC., and CATHY STACKHOUSE, Defendants-Appellees.

Held [*]

In an action arising from a dispute over the coverage provided by a comprehensive general liability policy containing an endorsement limiting coverage to claims arising from the ownership of premises shown in a schedule and operations necessary or incidental to those premises, the trial court properly held that the policy covered a claim made by a person who was struck by a falling tree while walking on a golf course managed by the insured, notwithstanding the fact that the golf course was away from the premises listed in the endorsement, since the policy contained several provisions suggesting that off-premises accidents would be covered, the only geographic limitation was the “coverage territory, ” which was defined as the United States, its territories and possessions and Canada, and plaintiff insurer knew its insured was engaged in the management of numerous commercial properties, including golf courses, townhouses and shopping centers.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County, No. 10-MR-783; the Hon. Christopher C. Starck, Judge, presiding.

Jay S. Judge, Andrew G. Witik, and Deborah A. Ostvig, all of Judge, James & Kujawa, LLC, of Park Ridge, for appellant.

John A. Kornak, Thomas J. Popovich, and Mark J. Vogg, all of Law Offices of Thomas J. Popovich, P.C., of McHenry, for appellees.

Panel JUSTICE SCHOSTOK delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Hudson and Birkett concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

SCHOSTOK, JUSTICE.

¶ 1 The plaintiff, Indiana Insurance Company, filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a determination as to whether a claim for personal injury suffered by one of the defendants, Cathy Stackhouse, was covered under an insurance policy Indiana had issued to the other defendant, Royce Realty and Management, Inc. On October 2, 2012, the circuit court of Lake County granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, finding that the claim was covered under the policy. Indiana appeals this determination. We affirm.

¶ 2 BACKGROUND

¶ 3 The following facts are drawn from the depositions[1] and other evidence submitted in connection with the defendants' motion for partial summary judgment. Except where noted, these facts are undisputed.

¶ 4 Royce Realty is in the business of managing various commercial properties owned by others, including, inter alia, residential buildings, shopping centers, and two golf courses. Kim Plencner has worked for Royce Realty for many years and since the late 1990s has been the president of Royce Realty. Among other duties, he handled the obtaining of insurance for Royce Realty.

¶ 5 At all times relevant to this case, Kim's brother Kevin Plencner was the vice president of Royce Realty, responsible for many of the day-to-day operations. He also served as the general manager of the Lakemoor Golf Club, supervising the operation of the golf course. He hired two other employees to directly manage, maintain, and operate the golf course. Those employees' paychecks came from Royce Realty. Although Kevin Plencner occasionally visited the golf course, he generally oversaw the golf course's operations from his office in Oak Brook Terrace.

¶ 6 Douglas Nelson was a licensed insurance broker. In 2002, he began working for Assurance Agency, Ltd. His accounts included Royce Realty, for which he prepared insurance proposals that he presented to Kim Plencner. In his deposition, Kim Plencner testified that he wanted Assurance to set up an insurance program that would protect against risks and losses at the various properties managed by Royce Realty.

¶ 7 The record does not reflect the nature of the insurance policies procured by Assurance for Royce Realty between 2002 and 2005. However, in May 2005, Indiana issued a set of insurance policies to Royce Realty that included coverage labeled "commercial general liability" (CGL) coverage. It appears that this was the first time Indiana insured Royce Realty.

¶ 8 Section I of the CGL coverage form stated that the policy included three types of coverage: coverage for bodily injury and property damage (coverage A); personal and advertising injury (defined to include injury arising out of offenses such as false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, wrongful eviction, defamation, invasion of privacy, and copyright infringement) (coverage B); and medical expenses (coverage C). The portion relating to coverage A stated that the policy applied to bodily injury and property damage if, among other things, the bodily injury or property damage was caused by an accident that took place in the "coverage territory." The "coverage territory" was defined as encompassing the United States, its territories and possessions, and Canada. The portion relating to coverage C stated as follows:

"a. We will pay medical expenses as described below for 'bodily injury' caused ...

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