May 13, 2015
G.M. SIGN, INC., Plaintiff and Defendant and Counterplaintiff-Appellee and Cross-Appellant,
PENNSWOOD PARTNERS, INC., Defendant-Appellee and Cross-Appellant Maryland Casualty Company and Assurance Company of America, Plaintiffs and Counterdefendants-Appellants and Cross-Appellees
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. Nos. 07-CH-757, 08-MR-153. Honorable Margaret J. Mullen, Judge, Presiding.
Michael M. Marick, Karen M. Dixon, and Timothy H. Wright, all of Meckler Bulger Tilson Marick & Pearson LLP, of Chicago, for appellants.
Brian J. Wanca and David M. Oppenheim, both of Anderson & Wanca, of Rolling Meadows, and Phillip A. Bock and Robert M. Hatch, both of Bock & Hatch, LLC, of Chicago, for appellees.
Michael C. Borders and Rosa M. Tumialan, both of Dykema Gossett PLLC, of Chicago, for amicus curiae.
Burke and Spence,
Justices concurred in the judgment and opinion.
[¶1] G.M. Sign, a recipient of unsolicited faxed advertisements, with its principal place of business in Round Lake, Illinois, filed a class action complaint against Pennswood Partners (Pennswood), a Pennsylvania corporation with its principal and
only place of business in Pennsylvania. Pennswood's insurers, Maryland Casualty Company (Maryland Casualty) and Assurance Company of America (Assurance) (collectively, Zurich) denied Pennswood's tender of its defense. Maryland Casualty, a Maryland corporation with its principal place of business in Illinois, and Assurance, a New York corporation with its principal place of business also in Illinois, are underwriting insurance companies used by the Zurich Insurance Group's small business unit to issue insurance policies. Subsequently, G.M. Sign and Pennswood settled their lawsuit for $8 million. Zurich filed a declaratory judgment action against Pennswood and G.M. Sign, seeking a declaration that their insurance policies did not provide coverage to Pennswood for the underlying lawsuit. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Applying Illinois law, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Pennswood and G.M. Sign and against Zurich, determining that Zurich had a duty to defend and indemnify Pennswood and that the settlement was reasonable. The trial court entered judgment in favor of G.M. Sign in the amount of $8 million and denied Pennswood and G.M. Sign's request for accrued postsettlement interest.
[¶2] The parties appealed. On March 24, 2014, we issued an opinion reversing in part and affirming in part ( G.M. Sign, Inc. v. Pennswood Partners, Inc., 2014 IL App. (2d) 121276, 380 Ill.Dec. 799, 9 N.E.3d 49) (original opinion). G.M. Sign and Pennswood filed a motion for a supervisory order in the Illinois Supreme Court, which the supreme court granted. G.M. Sign, Inc. v. Pennswood Partners, Inc., No. 117912 (Ill. Aug. 22, 2014) (nonprecedential supervisory order directing vacatur of judgment and reconsideration in light of Bridgeview Health Care Center, Ltd. v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., 2014 IL 116389, 381 Ill.Dec. 493, 10 N.E.3d 902, and dismissing petition for leave to appeal as moot).
[¶3] On appeal Zurich argues: (1) Zurich had no duty to defend or indemnify Pennswood in the underlying action under Pennsylvania law; (2) Illinois courts are vested with the discretion to consider federal courts' predictions in their conflict-of-law analysis; and (3) in an insurance coverage case, a single state's law should be applied to the interpretation of an insurance policy. Pennswood and G.M. Sign argue that the trial court erred by denying their request for accrued postsettlement interest. We vacate our original opinion and determine that our reconsideration in light of Bridgeview does not change the result. We reverse in part and affirm in part.
[¶4] I. BACKGROUND
[¶5] On March 20, 2007, G.M. Sign filed a class action complaint against Pennswood, an executive placement services provider, alleging the following. Pennswood " transmitted by telephone facsimile machine unsolicited advertisements to [G.M. Sign's] facsimile machine." Pennswood " sent thousands of similar unsolicited facsimile advertisements to at least 39 other recipients." Pennswood " knew or should have known that" it did not have the recipients' permission or invitation to send them advertising. The complaint alleged that on two occasions in 2006 Pennswood faxed two unsolicited advertisements to G.M. Sign. The three-count complaint alleged
the following: (1) Pennswood violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) (47 U.S.C. § 27 (2006)), " by transmitting [the advertisements] to [G.M. Sign] and the other members of the class" and that Pennswood's " actions caused damages to [G.M. Sign] and the other class members, because their receipt of [Pennswood's] unsolicited fax advertisements caused them to lose paper and toner consumed as a result" and " cost [them] employee time" ; (2) Pennswood was liable for common-law conversion of the plaintiffs' " fax machine toner, paper, memory, and employee time" ; and (3) Pennswood violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (815 ILCS 505/2 (West 2006)). The complaint alleged that a class action was proper in that " the class consists of forty or more persons in Illinois and throughout the United States and is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable." The complaint alleged that members of the class received faxed unsolicited advertisements from Pennswood within three, four and five years from the filing of the complaint. The complaint sought damages, an injunction, attorney fees, and the certification of the class.
[¶6] On May 22, 2007, Pennswood tendered its defense to Zurich. In a letter dated July 23, 2007, Zurich denied Pennswood's tender of defense, disclaiming any obligation to defend or indemnify in the underlying class action.
[¶7] On July 31, 2007, the parties to the underlying class action filed a motion in the trial court for approval of terms of a settlement agreement signed by the parties on July 27 and July 30, 2007. The settlement agreement provided that Pennswood agreed to allow entry of a judgment against it in the amount of $8 million that would be enforceable only " against the proceeds of" the Zurich policies. In addition, Pennswood agreed to assign to the class its rights under the Zurich policies.
[¶8] On October 30, 2007, following a fairness hearing, the trial court in the underlying class action granted Pennswood and G.M. Sign's motion for approval of the settlement agreement and entered judgment in favor of the class and against Pennswood in the amount of $8 million, " to be satisfied only from the proceeds of [Pennswood's four Zurich] insurance policies." The trial court also ordered G.M. Sign's attorney to receive 33.33% of any recovery from Zurich, in accordance with the agreement. The trial court found the provisions of the agreement to be fair and reasonable. The trial court found that Pennswood faxed in excess of 80,000 unsolicited advertisements to the class between March 20, 2003, and December 1, 2003; faxed in excess of 160,000 unsolicited advertisements to the class between December 1, 2003, and December 1, 2004; faxed in excess of 160,000 unsolicited advertisements to the class between December 1, 2004, and December 1, 2005; and faxed in excess of 160,000 unsolicited advertisements to the class between December 1, 2005, and December 1, 2006. The trial court ordered that postsettlement interest would accrue from the date of the entry of the order. The trial court stated that its order was a " final and appealable order."
[¶9] Zurich issued four commercial general liability policies to Pennswood (the Zurich policies) that were in effect during the relevant time period of the allegations contained in G.M. Sign's class action complaint. The policies were negotiated, delivered and received in Pennsylvania. The premiums for the policies were paid by Pennswood from Pennsylvania.
[¶10] Under " Coverage A," the Zurich policies provide coverage for " bodily injury"
and " property damage" caused by an " occurrence." The policies define " occurrence" as an " accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions." The policies define " property damage" as:
" a. Physical injury to tangible property, including all resulting loss of use of that property. All such loss of use shall be deemed to occur at the time of the physical injury that caused it; or
b. Loss of use of tangible property that is not physically injured. All such loss shall be deemed to occur at the time of the 'occurrence' that caused it[.]"
[¶11] The policies contain the following exclusion:
" Expected Or. Intended Injury:
'Bodily Injury' or 'property damage' expected or intended from the standpoint of the insured."
[¶12] Under " Coverage B," the policies provide coverage for " personal and advertising injury."
[¶13] The policy in effect December 1, 2005, through December 1, 2006, also incorporates an endorsement applicable to " Coverage A," entitled " Violation Of Communication Or. Law Exclusion," that provides:
" This insurance does not apply to:
Violation of Communication or Information of Law
'Bodily injury,' 'property damage' or 'personal and advertising injury' resulting from or arising out of any actual or alleged violation of:
A. The Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (47 U.S.C. § 227), ***
B. Any other federal, state or local statute, regulation or ordinance that imposes liability for the:
(1) Unlawful use of telephone, electronic mail, internet, computer, facsimile machine or other communication or transmission device; or
(2) Unlawful use, collection, dissemination, disclosure or reclosure of personal information in any manner by any insured or on behalf of any insured."
[¶14] Each Zurich policy at issue includes the following endorsement:
" EXCLUSION - PERSONAL AND ADVERTISING INJURY
This endorsement modifies insurance provided under the following:
COMMERCIAL GENERAL LIABILITY COVERAGE PART
COVERAGE B (Section I) does not apply and none of the references to it in the Coverage Part apply."
[¶15] Each Zurich policy at issue contains the following condition:
" 2. Duties In The Event Of Occurrence, Offense, Claim Or. Suit
* * *
c. You and any other involved insured must:
* * *
(3) Cooperate with us in the investigation or settlement of the claim or defense against the 'suit'; and
(4) Assist us, upon our request, in the enforcement of any right against any person or organization which may be liable to the insured because of injury or damage to which this insurance may also apply.
d. No insured will, except at that insured's own cost, voluntarily make a payment, assume any obligation, or incur any expense other than first aid, without our consent."
[¶16] On February 1, 2008, Zurich filed a three-count declaratory judgment action
against Pennswood and G.M. Sign. Zurich sought declarations that its policies provided no coverage: (1) because the underlying action did not involve " property damage" caused by an " accident," and because coverage was precluded by the " expected or intended" injury exclusion; (2) because " Coverage B" (covering " personal and advertising injury" ) was not purchased and is excluded by the policies; and (3) due to Pennswood's breach of contract. The class action suit and the declaratory judgment suit were consolidated by the trial court.
[¶17] On November 13, 2008, G.M. Sign filed a counterclaim for declaratory relief. Subsequently, G.M. Sign filed an amended counterclaim asserting an additional claim for statutory bad faith under Pennsylvania law. On May 6, 2011, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment only on the coverage issues. Pursuant to the trial court's order, the cross-motions were not to address G.M. Sign's bad-faith claim. Zurich moved for summary judgment on all counts of its declaratory judgment complaint. Pennswood and G.M. Sign moved for summary judgment on " all claims other than the bad faith claim reserved for future proceedings by Court order" and for judgment in their favor on the reasonableness of the settlement, on Zurich's duty to defend and indemnify, and in the amount of the settlement, plus accrued postsettlement interest.
[¶18] After argument by counsel, the trial court issued a well-reasoned written order on September 9, 2011, granting Zurich's motion. The trial court concluded that Illinois and Pennsylvania law were not in conflict on the issue of whether Coverage B was excluded from the policies; thus, the trial court applied Illinois law and determined that Coverage B was unambiguously excluded. Next, the trial court concluded that a conflict existed between Illinois and Pennsylvania law regarding whether " fax-blasting constitutes 'property damage' caused by an 'occurrence' within the meaning of the Policies." The trial court considered Illinois appellate court decisions and decisions from federal courts in Pennsylvania and determined that Illinois provided coverage while Pennsylvania did not. After applying the choice-of-law analysis set forth in Lapham-Hickey Steel Corp. v. Protection Mutual Insurance Co., 166 Ill.2d 520, 526-27, 655 N.E.2d 842, 211 Ill.Dec. 459 (1995), the trial court concluded that Pennsylvania law applied in interpreting the policy provisions, because it had the most significant contacts. The trial court determined that it was unnecessary to decide the remaining issues and granted summary judgment in favor of Zurich and against Pennswood and G.M. Sign on counts I, II, and III of Zurich's complaint for declaratory judgment and count I of G.M. Sign's counterclaim.
[¶19] Pennswood and G.M. Sign filed a motion to reconsider. In their motion, Pennswood and G.M. Sign relied on a recent appellate court decision, Pekin Insurance Co. v. XData Solutions, Inc., 2011 IL App. (1st) 102769, ¶ 23, 958 N.E.2d 397, 354 Ill.Dec. 654 (holding that federal district court decisions predicting state law do not represent " state law for the purposes of engaging in a choice of law analysis" ). Based on XData, the trial court granted the motion, withdrew its prior summary judgment order, and granted summary judgment in favor of Pennswood and G.M. Sign and against Zurich.
[¶20] The trial court issued its written order on October 12, 2012, stating the following. There was no conflict between Illinois and Pennsylvania law regarding whether " fax-blasting constituted 'property
damage' caused by an 'occurrence' within the meaning of the Policies." Because no conflict existed, Illinois law applied and Zurich had a duty to defend and indemnify under the " property damage" provision. The trial court also determined that no conflict existed regarding the expected/intended injury exclusion and that the exclusion did not bar coverage. The trial court also determined that the law of Illinois and Pennsylvania differs on the issue of estoppel against insurers that breach the duty to defend, but that the difference was immaterial here because the underlying case had been settled before trial, and, thus, it was " impossible to determine if the insured would have been liable for covered or uncovered counts." The trial court concluded that Pennsylvania law applied to the issues of whether TCPA claims are insurable as a matter of public policy and which damages are recoverable for Zurich's alleged bad faith. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Pennswood and G.M. Sign and against Zurich on counts I, II, and III of Zurich's complaint and count I of G.M. Sign's counterclaim, declaring that: (1) Zurich had a duty to defend Pennswood under the policies for the underlying suit; (2) Zurich breached that duty to defend; (3) Zurich owed a duty of indemnity for the settlement resulting from the underlying suit; and (4) the settlement was reasonable. The trial court also entered judgment in favor of G.M. Sign and the class.
[¶21] On October 31, 2012, Zurich filed a motion for a finding under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 304(a) (eff. Feb. 26, 2010) that there was no just reason to delay the enforcement of, or appeal from, the judgment entered by the trial court on October 12, 2012.
[¶22] On November 5, 2012, Pennswood and G.M. Sign filed a " Memorandum in Support of" accrued postsettlement interest. On November 9, 2012, the trial court entered judgment in favor of G.M. Sign in the amount of $8 million, denied Pennswood and G.M. Sign's request for accrued postsettlement interest, and granted Zurich's Rule 304(a) motion.
[¶23] Zurich filed its notice of appeal on November 9, 2012. On November 13, Pennswood and G.M. Sign filed their notice of cross-appeal from the portion of the trial court's November 9 order denying their request for accrued postsettlement interest.
[¶24] II. ANALYSIS
[¶25] Zurich urges this court to reverse the trial court's summary judgment in favor of Pennswood and G.M. Sign and against Zurich.
[¶26] Summary judgment is appropriate only where the pleadings, depositions, admissions, and affidavits, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, show that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. 735 ILCS 5/2-1005(c) (West 2010). " By filing cross-motions for summary judgment, the parties agree that no factual issues exist and this case turns solely on legal issues subject to de novo review." Gaffney v. Board of Trustees of the Orland Fire Protection District, 2012 IL 110012, ¶ 73, 969 N.E.2d 359, 360 Ill.Dec. 549.
[¶27] Furthermore, the " purpose of a motion to reconsider is to bring to the court's attention newly discovered evidence that was not available at the time of the hearing, changes in the law or errors in the court's previous application of existing law." Pence v. Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter R.R. Corp., 398 Ill.App.3d 13, 16, 923 N.E.2d 854, 337 Ill.Dec. 1003 (2010). " A ruling on a motion to reconsider is typically reviewed for an
abuse of discretion, but a motion to reconsider a grant of summary judgment typically questions the trial court's application of existing law," and the grant or denial of such a motion is reviewed de novo. See Wilfong v. L.J. Dodd Construction, 401 Ill.App.3d 1044, 1063, 930 N.E.2d 511, 341 Ill.Dec. 301 (2010).
[¶28] In general, when a court must resolve a case in which multiple jurisdictions have an interest, the court applies the choice-of-law rules of its own state to determine which state's law will apply. Townsend v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 227 Ill.2d 147, 155, 879 N.E.2d 893, 316 Ill.Dec. 505 (2007). To determine which jurisdiction's law applies, a court must first isolate the issue, define the conflict, and determine whether the law of the interested jurisdictions conflicts. See id. at 155-56. A choice-of-law determination is required only when a difference in law will make a difference in the outcome. Bridgeview, 2014 IL 116389, ¶ 14. The party seeking the choice-of-law determination bears the burden of demonstrating that a conflict exists. Id. Because Zurich seeks a choice-of-law declaration, it bears the burden of demonstrating that a conflict of law exists. See id. We review de novo a trial court's decision on a choice-of-law issue. Id.
[¶29] In many respects, courts in Pennsylvania and Illinois interpret insurance policies and determine insurers' duties in a similar manner. In both states, courts interpret insurance policies to give effect to the intention of the parties, as that intention is expressed by the language of the policies when given its plain and ordinary meaning. Valley Forge Insurance Co. v. Swiderski Electronics, Inc., 223 Ill.2d 352, 362-63, 860 N.E.2d 307, 307 Ill.Dec. 653 (2006); Kvaerner Metals Division of Kvaerner U.S., Inc. v. Commercial Union Insurance Co., 589 Pa. 317, 908 A.2d 888, 897 (Pa. 2006). Similarly, in both states, an insurer has a duty to defend if the underlying complaint alleges facts within, or potentially within, the policy's coverage provisions. United States Fidelity & Guaranty Co. v. Wilkin Insulation Co., 144 Ill.2d 64, 73, 578 N.E.2d 926, 161 Ill.Dec. 280 (1991); Gedeon v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., 410 Pa. 55, 188 A.2d 320, 321-22 (Pa. 1963).
[¶30] The parties disagree as to whether a conflict exists between Illinois and Pennsylvania regarding whether Zurich owed Pennswood a duty to defend under the " property damage" provision of the policies. The parties agree that Zurich owed a duty to defend Pennswood under Illinois law. See Insurance Corp. of Hanover v. Shelborne Associates, 389 Ill.App.3d 795, 803, 905 N.E.2d 976, 329 Ill.Dec. 138 (2009) (holding that, under Illinois law, the duty to defend was triggered under the " property damage" provision of the insured's policy where the claim alleged violations of the TCPA); see also Valley Forge Insurance Co. v. Swiderski Electronics, Inc., 223 Ill.2d 352, 364-65, 860 N.E.2d 307, 307 Ill.Dec. 653 (2006) (Illinois recognizes a duty to defend a class action complaint asserting violations of the TCPA). However, Zurich argues that, under Pennsylvania law, it did not owe a duty to defend, because the complaint did not allege " property damage" caused by an " occurrence" as defined in the policies. Zurich contends that under Pennsylvania law an " occurrence," as defined in the policies as an " accident," does not apply to intentional acts such as sending faxes.
[¶31] In this case, the Zurich policies provide liability coverage for " property damage" caused by an " occurrence," and the policies define " occurrence" as an " accident." Pennsylvania courts have interpreted " property damage"
provisions similar to the provisions contained in the Zurich policies. See Kvaerner Metals, 589 Pa. 317, 908 A.2d 888. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court cautioned against " being overly inclusive in defining an 'occurrence.'" Erie Insurance Exchange v. Maier, 2008 PA Super 297, 963 A.2d 907, 909 (Pa. Super Ct. 2008) (citing Kvaerner Metals, 908 A.2d at 888). Thus, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court defined " occurrence" as the policies in this case have, as an " accident," and it defined " accident" as " [a]n unexpected and undesirable event," or " something that occurs unexpectedly or unintentionally." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Kvaerner Metals, 908 A.2d at 897-98. Therefore, intentional acts, and in some instances negligent acts, are not occurrences. Erie Insurance Exchange, 963 A.2d at 909. To determine whether an act is intentional, courts consider whether the insured " desired to cause the consequences of his act or if he acted knowing that such consequences were substantially certain to result." United Services Automobile Ass'n v. Elitzky, 358 Pa.Super. 362, 517 A.2d 982, 989 (Pa.
Super. Ct. 1986). When an insured is alleged to have been negligent, the property damage or injury cannot be the result of an " accident" unless the damage or injury was unforeseeable, unexpected, or fortuitous. See Donegal Mutual Insurance Co. v. Baumhammers, 595 Pa. 147, 938 A.2d 286, 293 (Pa. 2007).
[¶32] Regarding allegations of unsolicited faxes and TCPA violations, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, applying Pennsylvania law in a case similar to the case before us, held that an insurer did not have a duty to defend a class action fax-blasting claim. Melrose Hotel Co. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 432 F.Supp.2d 488, 507-09 (E.D. Pa. 2006), aff'd sub nom. Subclass 2 of the Master Class of Plaintiffs Defined & Certified in the January 30, 2006 & July 28, 2006 Orders of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois in the Litigation Captioned Travel 100 Group, Inc. v. Melrose Hotel Co., 503 F.3d 339, 340 (3d Cir. 2007).
[¶33] In Melrose, the insured (a hotel) hired a third party to send fax advertisements, and the recipients of the faxes filed a class action lawsuit against the insured, alleging violations of the TCPA, common-law conversion, and common-law trespass to chattels. Id. at 492-93. The underlying complaint alleged that the insured " [knew] *** or should have known that its appropriation of the paper and toner *** was wrongful and without authorization." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Id. at 493. The insurer claimed that it had no duty to defend, because the policy provided coverage only for accidental property damage. Id. at 505. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the Melrose court held that the insurer had no duty to defend, because the complaint alleged that the insured's conduct was intentional and, therefore, not accidental. Id. at 504-05. The Melrose court relied on Pennsylvania appellate court decisions in analyzing the definition of " accident" under the policy. Id. The court was " not persuaded to the contrary simply because the [underlying] Complaint uses the phrase 'should have known.'" Id. at 509. The court reasoned that the underlying complaint failed to allege that the insured accidently sent the faxes to those who did not consent to receiving them and failed to allege specific acts of negligence that made possible the intentional acts of the third party. Id. at 510. The court stated that, the insured " knew that its actions would cause the very harm that the TCPA aims to prevent." Id.
[¶34] We recognize that Melrose, " a federal district court's Erie prediction[,]
is not state law, [and that] such a prediction cannot, by itself, establish a conflict between state laws." Bridgeview, 2014 IL 116389, ¶ 17. However, because the Melrose court based its decision on the holdings of Pennsylvania's intermediate appellate courts, we may consider Melrose. See id. Further, our focus here is on the holdings of the Pennsylvania courts discussed above and the underlying state law cited and discussed in Melrose. See id. 
[¶35] The complaint in this case did not allege an accident under Pennsylvania law. The complaint alleged that Pennswood " transmitted by telephone facsimile machine [thousands of unsolicited advertisements] to Plaintiff[s'] facsimile machine[s]." Further, the complaint alleged that Pennswood's action caused the plaintiffs to lose paper, toner and use of their fax machines. Although the complaint also alleged that Pennswood " knew or should have known" that it did not have permission to send faxes to the plaintiffs, the complaint did not allege that Pennswood accidentally sent faxes to those who did not consent to receiving them. In addition, the complaint did not contain any specific factual allegations of Pennswood's negligence that caused Pennswood's intentional act of faxing unsolicited advertisements. Also, even if G.M. Sign had alleged " negligence," Pennswood's conduct would not qualify as an accident, because the damages caused by sending faxes were foreseeable, i.e., loss of paper, toner, and use of fax machines. See Baumhammers, 938 A.2d at 293 (property damage cannot be the result of an accident under a negligence theory if the damage was foreseeable). Accordingly, we determine that, based on the decisions of Pennsylvania's state courts and considering the federal court decision in Melrose, the allegations in the complaint at issue would not be deemed " property damage" or an " accident" under Pennsylvania law.
[¶36] Pennswood and G.M. Sign cite Telecommunications Network Design Inc. v. Brethren Mutual Insurance Co., 83 Pa. D. & C. 4th 265 (Pa. Com. Pl. 2007), to support their argument that there is no conflict between Illinois and Pennsylvania law. In Brethren, the class filed suit against both the policyholder and a third-party vendor who sent the faxes. Id. at 271. The Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas held that the insurer had a duty to defend under the " property damage" provision of its policy because the court could not determine
the relationship between the insured and the third-party vendor; it was possible that the third-party vendor sent the faxes to unwilling recipients without the insured's knowledge. Id. at 276. In this case, the complaint did not allege a third-party vendor. Rather, it alleged that Pennswood sent the unsolicited faxes directly to the recipients. Further, nothing in the record indicates that Pennswood reasonably believed that it had the recipients' permission. To the contrary, the record indicates that Pennswood's owner's belief that the recipients would like to receive the faxes was based only on his belief in the value of Pennswood's products and not on any actual knowledge that he had the recipients' consent. Therefore, Brethren is distinguishable from this case.
[¶37] Pennswood and G.M. Sign also argue that there is coverage under the policies' " property damage" provision because Pennswood did not intend to cause harm. Pennswood supports this argument with its owner's statements that he believed it had the recipients' consent and that it would not have sent the faxes if he had known that Pennswood did not have the recipients' consent. However, this " accidental fax" argument fails because nothing in the record indicates that Pennswood attempted to determine whether the recipients had consented or given their express permission to receive faxes, as required by the TCPA. See Melrose, 432 F.Supp.2d at 505; see 47 U.S.C. § 227(a)(5) (2006) (forbidding all unsolicited fax advertisements and defining unsolicited faxes as those transmitted " without that person's prior express invitation or permission" ).
[¶38] In addition, Pennswood and G.M. Sign argue that there is no conflict between Illinois and Pennsylvania law regarding whether Zurich owed a duty to defend pursuant to the policies' " property damage" provisions. They cite Elitzky, 358 Pa.Super. 362, 517 A.2d 982, to support their argument. In Elitzky, the Pennsylvania Superior Court stated that " [i]nsurance coverage is not excluded because the insured's actions are intentional unless he also intended the resultant damage." Id. at 987. The court held that the insurer had a duty to defend because the underlying plaintiff could recover on his libel claim even if the insureds thought that their statements were true and thus had no intent to injure the plaintiff. Id. at 989. In this case, the record reveals that Pennswood intended the resultant damage or harm because Pennswood's owner testified that he knew that the faxes would consume the recipients' paper and toner. Thus, Elitzky does not support Pennswood and G.M. Sign's position. Accordingly, a conflict exists between Illinois and Pennsylvania regarding whether Zurich owed Pennswood a duty to defend under the " property damage" provision of the policies.
[¶39] Because we have determined that a conflict exists, we must undertake a choice-of-law analysis. See Townsend, 227 Ill.2d at 155. It is undisputed that the policies at issue in this case contain no choice-of-law provision; thus, we apply the general choice-of-law rules of the forum state, Illinois, to determine which state's law should apply. See Emerson Electric Co. v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 319 Ill.App.3d 218, 231-32, 743 N.E.2d 629, 252 Ill.Dec. 761 (2001). If an insurance policy does not specify a choice of law, the determination is generally governed by the following factors: (1) the location of the subject matter; (2) the place of delivery of the insurance policy; (3) the domicile of the insured or of the insurer; (4) the place of the last act to give rise to a valid insurance policy; and (5) the place of performance, or other place bearing a rational relationship to the general insurance policy. Lapham-Hickey,
166 Ill.2d at 526-27. These factors do not have equal significance and are to be weighed according to the issue involved. Emerson Electric, 319 Ill.App.3d at 232. To assist in the application of the Lapham-Hickey analysis for the choice of law applicable to an insurance policy, consideration should be given to the justified expectations of the parties, to the predictability and uniformity of the result, and to the ease in the determination and application of the law to be applied. Id.
[¶40] In this case, the location of the subject matter is the location of the risk insured by the Zurich policies. See Emerson Electric, 319 Ill.App.3d at 232-33. Those risks are located at the various fax machines that gave rise to Pennswood's liability. As alleged in the class action complaint, these sites are nationwide. Because the Zurich policies provided coverage for sites located in more than one state, little weight is given the location of the subject matter. See Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws § 193 cmt. b, at 611-12 (1971) (" The location of the insured risk [is] given greater weight than any other single contact *** provided that the risk can be located, at least principally, in a single state. Situations where this cannot be done, and where the location of the risk has less significance, include *** where the policy covers a group of risks that are scattered throughout two or more states." ); see also Emerson Electric, 319 Ill.App.3d at 232-33.
[¶41] Regarding the second factor, the parties agree that the place of delivery of the insurance policies was Pennsylvania. Thus, this factor weighs in favor of Pennsylvania's interests.
[¶42] Regarding the third factor, the domicile of the insured or of the insurer, the parties agree that the domicile of the insurers, Maryland Casualty and Assurance, is Illinois. However, in cases such as this one, where the risk is located in multiple states, courts focus on the domicile of the insured, and where the negotiations, purchase, and issuance of the insurance policies took place. See, e.g., Emerson Electric, 319 Ill.App.3d at 235-36. In this case, Pennswood is domiciled in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is the place of its incorporation and its principal place of business. Apart from Pennswood's unsolicited faxing activities, it has no business operations outside of Pennsylvania. Pennswood's employees and facilities are all located in Pennsylvania. The Zurich policies were negotiated with, purchased by, and issued to Pennswood in Pennsylvania through an agent located in Pennsylvania. Thus, the third factor weighs heavily in favor of Pennsylvania's interests.
[¶43] Regarding the fourth factor, the place of the last act giving rise to the policies is the state where the policies were delivered and where the premiums were paid. Id. at 233-35. The policies were delivered in Pennsylvania and Pennswood paid its premiums in Pennsylvania. Thus, this factor weighs in favor of Pennsylvania's interests.
[¶44] The fifth factor, the place of performance, also weighs in favor of Pennsylvania because there is no express agreement determining the place of performance, and Pennswood's principal place of business is in Pennsylvania. See id. at 234 (where there was no express agreement as to the place of performance, and the intended place of the insurer's payment of claims could not be determined because they were scattered throughout several states, the court looked to the state where the insured was located).
[¶45] As the trial court concluded in its well-reasoned choice-of-law analysis in its initial September 9, 2011, summary judgment order, we also conclude that the record points to Pennsylvania as the appropriate choice of law governing the interpretation of the Zurich policies. Guided by Pennsylvania state case law and considering one federal district court case relying on Pennsylvania law, we determine that, under Pennsylvania law, the underlying complaint did not allege an accident. Therefore, Zurich had no duty to defend under the policies' " property damage" provisions. Because Zurich had no duty to defend, it has no duty to indemnify. See Kvaerner, 908 A.2d at 896 n.7 (an insurer has a duty to indemnify only if it has a duty to defend). Further, because we have determined that Pennsylvania law and not Illinois law governs, we need not address Zurich's final argument that there is no coverage because Illinois's public policy precludes coverage for fax-blasting lawsuits.
[¶46] Thus, under our authority pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 366(a)(5) (eff. Feb. 1, 1994), we grant summary judgment in favor of Zurich and against Pennswood and G.M. Sign and declare: (1) Zurich had no duty to defend Pennswood under the policies for the underlying complaint; (2) Zurich had no duty to defend and has no duty to indemnify Pennswood with respect to any liability, judgment or settlement resulting from the underlying complaint; and (3) Zurich did not breach any contractual obligations to Pennswood. In addition, we dismiss G.M. Sign's claim against Zurich alleging statutory bad faith under Pennsylvania law.
[¶47] Addressing Pennswood and G.M. Sign's cross-appeal, because we have determined that Zurich has no duty to Pennswood regarding any liability, judgment or settlement in the underlying lawsuit, we affirm the trial court's denial of Pennswood and G.M. Sign's request for accrued postsettlement interest. Further, we need not address Zurich's motion to strike a portion of Pennswood and G. M. Sign's cross-reply brief addressing the trial court's denial of their request for accrued postsettlement interest.
[¶48] III. CONCLUSION
[¶49] For the reasons stated, we reverse the trial court's summary judgment in favor of Pennswood and G.M. Sign. We enter summary judgment in favor of Zurich and against Pennswood and G.M. Sign. Further, we affirm the trial court's order denying Pennswood and G.M. Sign's request for accrued postsettlement interest and dismiss G.M. Sign's claim against Zurich alleging statutory bad faith under Pennsylvania law.
[¶50] Reversed in part and affirmed in part.
[¶51] Judgment entered.