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Crackel v. State Farm Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

August 28, 2014

ANTHONY CRACKEL and DAVID CRACKEL, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
STATE FARM INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee

Page 410

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Effingham County. No. 11-MR-92. Honorable Allan F. Lolie, Judge, presiding.

SYLLABUS

In an action seeking a declaratory judgment that defendant insurer was required to pay plaintiffs for the loss of their car through a fraudulent sales transaction, the trial court erred in granting summary judgment for the insurer, notwithstanding the policy provision excluding coverage for a transaction in which the insureds voluntarily relinquished possession of the vehicle pursuant to an actual or presumed sales agreement, since no sales agreement existed where the buyer falsely identified himself and paid with a fraudulent cashier's check, and under those circumstances, plaintiffs' relinquishment of possession could not be deemed voluntary.

For Appellants: Aaron C. Jones, Taylor Law Offices, P.C., Effingham, IL.

For Appellee: Dominique N. Seymoure, Reed, Armstrong, Mudge & Morrissey, Edwardsville, IL.

JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Welch and Justice Stewart concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Page 411

POPE, J.

[¶1] Plaintiffs, David Crackel and Anthony Crackel, filed a complaint for declaratory judgment against defendant, State Farm Insurance Company (State Farm), seeking compensation from an insurance policy issued by State Farm for the loss of their vehicle. State Farm filed its answer and countercomplaint for declaratory judgment, asserting that plaintiffs' loss of vehicle fell under an exception in their insurance policy whereby State Farm was not liable. Plaintiffs subsequently filed an answer to State Farm's countercomplaint, and after completing discovery, both parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment with the circuit court (735 ILCS 5/2-1005 (West 2012)).

[¶2] The circuit court granted State Farm's motion for summary judgment and denied plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs now appeal the circuit court's ruling, contending that the court erred in granting State Farm's motion for summary judgment and denying plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on the ground that the loss of plaintiffs' vehicle fell within an exclusion to their insurance policy and, therefore, was excluded from coverage. The exclusion the circuit court relied upon provides that coverage shall be excluded when an insured voluntarily relinquishes possession of his or her vehicle under either an actual sales agreement or a presumed sales agreement.

[¶3] Plaintiffs assert that their loss of vehicle is not excluded from coverage under their insurance policy because relinquishment of their vehicle was not voluntary, and ask that judgment be entered in favor of plaintiffs on both motions for summary judgment. We reverse the judgment of the circuit court and remand with directions to enter judgment for plaintiffs and against defendant on plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and deny State Farm's motion for summary judgment.

[¶4] BACKGROUND

[¶5] On July 23, 2011, plaintiff Anthony Crackel sold his 2003 Mercury Marauder to a man who identified himself as Kevin Northington. Plaintiff had advertised his vehicle on Auto Trader, and Northington contacted plaintiff concerning the purchase of the vehicle. After plaintiff and Northington met in person, Northington took plaintiff's vehicle for a test drive and personally inspected it, after which ...


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