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Gaudina v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division

March 28, 2014

ROBERT GAUDINA, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee

Page 589

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 11 CH 42003. Honorable LeRoy Martin, Judge Presiding.

Affirmed.

SYLLABUS

The trial court properly found that plaintiff was not an insured for purposes of underinsured motorist coverage under the policy defendant issued to plaintiff's wife, since the policy unambiguously defined " spouse" as a husband or wife who resides primarily with the insured, and in plaintiff's case, the evidence showed that at the time of the accident in which he was injured, he had been asked to leave the marital home, he did not primarily reside with his wife, he lived in his car and various other places, he used the address of a room he rented for his driver's license, health insurance, and workers' compensation claim, he had no other residences or living places, and he did not contribute to the expenses of the marital home, and under those circumstances, plaintiff did not fall within the scope of the policy's definition of a " spouse."

For APPELLANT: Michael W. Rathsack, of Chicago (Daniel J. Kaiser and Michael W. Rathsack, of counsel).

For APPELLEE: Taylor Miller LLC, of Chicago (Frank C. Stevens, of counsel).

JUSTICE PALMER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices McBride and Taylor concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

PALMER, JUSTICE.

Page 590

[¶1] Plaintiff, Robert Gaudina, appeals from the circuit court's March 18, 2013, order denying his motion for summary judgment and granting summary judgment in favor of defendant, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. On appeal, Gaudina contends that the circuit court erred in finding that he was not an insured entitled to coverage under his wife's policy. Gaudina asserts that the policy language is ambiguous and must be construed against State Farm. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

[¶2] BACKGROUND

[¶3] Gaudina was injured in an automobile accident on December 8, 2009, while working as a limousine driver. After settling his bodily injury liability claim against the other driver for that driver's policy limit ($250,000), Gaudina filed an underinsured motorist claim with State Farm under the automobile insurance policy of his wife, Maureen Rife. State Farm denied coverage of the claim on grounds that Gaudina was not an insured because, at the time of the accident, he was not residing primarily with her, and he therefore did not fit the definition of Rife's " spouse," as set forth the policy. Rife's automobile insurance policy defined " spouse" as:

" DEFINED WORDS WHICH ARE USED IN SEVERAL PARTS OF THE POLICY
We define some words to shorten the policy. This makes it easier to read and understand. Defined words are printed in boldface italics. You can pick them out easily.
* * *
Spouse -- means your husband or wife who resides primarily with you ."

[¶4] Further, the policy set forth who was considered an " insured" for purposes of the underinsured motor vehicle coverage:

" UNDERINSURED MOTOR VEHICLE -- COVERAGE W
You have this coverage if 'W' appears in the 'Coverages' space on the declarations page.
We will pay for damages for bodily injury and insured is legally entitled to collect from the owner or driver of an underinsured motor vehicle. The bodily injury must be sustained by an insured and caused by accident arising out of the operation, ...

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