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Skaperdas v. Country Casualty Ins. Co.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

October 7, 2013

STEVEN A. SKAPERDAS; VALERIE R. DAY; and JONATHAN JACKSON, a Minor, by Valerie Day, His Mother and Next friend, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
COUNTRY CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY and TOM LESSARIS, Defendants-Appellees.

Rehearing denied November 5, 2013.

Held [*]

In an action arising from defendant insurance agent’s failure to obtain the automobile insurance coverage plaintiff requested, the trial court’s decision that defendant did not owe a duty of care to plaintiff in procuring the coverage because he was an “agent” rather than a “broker” was reversed, since section 2-2201 of the Illinois Insurance Placement Liability Act eliminated the common-law distinction between insurance agents and brokers for purposes of the duty of care.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County, No. 11-L-121; the Hon. Jeffrey B. Ford, Judge, presiding.

Aaron D. Lauter (argued), of Frederick & Hagle, of Urbana, for appellants.

Stanley E. Freeman (argued), of Law Office of Stanley E. Freeman, P.C., of Champaign, for appellee Country Casualty Insurance Company.

Laura A. Petersen (argued) and Meaghan M. Brady, both of Quinn, Johnston, Henderson, Pretorius & Cerulo, of Peoria, for appellee Tom Lessaris.

Panel PRESIDING JUSTICE STEIGMANN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Appleton and Pope concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

STEIGMANN, PRESIDING JUSTICE.

¶ 1 In March 2012, plaintiffs, Steven A. Skaperdas and Valerie R. Day (on behalf of herself and as a representative of her son, Jonathan Jackson), sued defendants, Country Casualty Insurance Company (Country Casualty) and Tom Lessaris, seeking, in pertinent part, (1) to recover from Lessaris for his negligence in procuring insurance coverage from Country Casualty on plaintiffs' behalf and (2) a declaration of insurance coverage. In April 2012, Lessaris filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that he did not owe plaintiffs a duty of care in procuring insurance coverage. Shortly thereafter, Country Casualty filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that if the trial court determined that Lessaris cannot be liable to plaintiffs, Country Casualty could not be liable to plaintiffs for negligence under the theory of respondeat superior.

¶ 2 Following a June 2012 hearing on defendants' motions to dismiss, the trial court granted both motions. The court found that because Lessaris was an insurance "agent, " rather than an insurance "broker, " he did not owe plaintiffs a duty of care in procuring insurance coverage for them.

¶ 3 Plaintiffs appeal, arguing that the trial court erred by granting defendants' motions to dismiss, given that under section 2-2201 of the Illinois Insurance Placement Liability Act (Act) (735 ILCS 5/2-2201 (West 2010)), the insurance agent-broker dichotomy no longer exists for purposes of duty of care. Because we agree that section 2-2201 of the Act eliminated the common-law distinction between insurance agents and brokers for purposes of duty of care, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

¶ 4 I. BACKGROUND

ΒΆ 5 From time to time in early 2008, Day drove vehicles owned by Skaperdas, her boyfriend. Those vehicles were insured by Country Casualty. On February 5, 2008, Day was in an accident in one of Skaperdas' vehicles. Although Day was not listed as an "additional driver" on Skaperdas' Country Casualty auto-insurance policy, Country Casualty covered the loss, but required Skaperdas to add Day to his insurance policy as an additional driver. Shortly thereafter, Skaperdas had a conversation with Lessaris, ...


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