Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

The Travelers Indemnity Co. v. Rogers Cartage Co.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District

December 29, 2017

THE TRAVELERS INDEMNITY COMPANY and TRAVELERS PROPERTY CASUALTY COMPANY OF AMERICA, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
ROGERS CARTAGE COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 10 CH 55238 The Honorable Peter Flynn, Judge Presiding.

          PRESIDING JUSTICE PIERCE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Harris and Mikva concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          PIERCE JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 2 Rogers Cartage Company is a trucking company that hauls bulk liquid chemicals from a shipper to an end-user. Two of Rogers's former truck cleaning facilities in Cahokia and Sauget, located in St. Clair County, were the subject of environmental contamination lawsuits. Rogers tendered defense of the underlying claims to The Travelers Indemnity Company and Travelers Property Casualty Company of America (collectively, Travelers), seeking coverage under numerous insurance policies issued by Travelers to Rogers. Travelers ultimately paid all of Rogers's defense costs under a reservation of rights, and Rogers eventually settled the two underlying suits for a total of $9 million. Rogers then sought indemnification from Travelers under numerous CGL and auto policies, including the missing CGL and auto policies that are the focus of these proceedings.

         ¶ 3 Travelers filed this declaratory judgment action in Cook County circuit court seeking a declaration of the parties' rights regarding the existence, terms, and conditions of various missing insurance policies allegedly issued by Travelers to Rogers in the 1960s and 1970s.[1] It is undisputed that neither party can locate originals or copies of the disputed policies, and that there are no witnesses with contemporaneous knowledge of the existence, terms, or conditions of the disputed policies. There are two types of policies at issue: comprehensive general liability (CGL) policies and automobile policies.

         ¶ 4 It is undisputed that Travelers issued Rogers CGL policies for the policy periods of 1960-61 and 1965-66 (the "bookend policies"). Travelers continued to issue Rogers CGL policies through 1986. However, neither party could locate originals or copies of CGL policies issued by Travelers for the policy periods of 1961-62, 1962-63, 1963-64, or 1964-65. As the insured seeking coverage, Rogers had the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that the policies existed and the material terms and conditions of the policies. Rogers introduced secondary evidence consisting of various records produced by Travelers during discovery. Rogers also introduce secondary evidence to prove the terms and conditions of the CGL policies for the policy periods of 1961-62, 1962-63, 1963-64, and 1964-65.[2] Travelers contended that Rogers's evidence was insufficient to establish the existence of CGL policies for the policy periods of 1961-62, 1962-63, and 1963-64, or the terms and conditions of the CGL policies for the policy periods of 1961-62, 1962-63, 1963-64, and 1964-65.

         ¶ 5 It is also undisputed that, starting in the 1940s and continuing through the 1970s, Travelers issued Rogers numerous auto policies. Again, the parties were unable to locate original or copies of any auto policies issued by Travelers to Rogers between 1961 and 1970, but Travelers acknowledged the existence of the missing auto policies. Rogers introduced secondary evidence that it contends establishes the terms and conditions of the missing auto policies, but Travelers contends that Rogers's evidence is insufficient to establish the terms and conditions of the missing auto policies.

         ¶ 6 The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment on all of the issues in dispute, and agreed that there was no further discovery to do be done. Travelers's motion was supported by numerous exhibits, including business records, discovery responses, SL Letters (also identified as "Interoffice Memoranda"), [3] an affidavit from Robert J. Harris, Travelers's Second Vice President in the Special Liability Coverage Unit, and various "Notice of Large Loss" records. Rogers's cross-motion was supported by letters written in 2000 by Hal C. Koplin, a claims adjuster at Travelers, Koplin's discovery deposition transcript, Travelers's commercial account claims records, commercial account register records, an excess 1962 "Certificate of Insurance, " the 1960-61 and 1965-66 CGL bookend policies, Travelers's "specimen" (or standardized) CGL policy forms used between 1961 and 1965, and certificates of auto insurance from the Illinois Department of Insurance.

         ¶ 7 The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Rogers and denied summary judgment to Travelers, finding that (1) Rogers proved the existence of the CGL policies for the policy periods of 1961-62, 1962-63, 1963-64, and 1964-65 by a preponderance of the evidence, (2) these CGL polices had the same material terms and conditions as those set forth in the 1960-61 and 1965-66 "bookend" policies, and (3) Rogers proved the terms and conditions of the auto policies issued between 1960 and 1971. Travelers appeals.

         ¶ 8 ANALYSIS

         ¶ 9 On appeal, Travelers argues that Rogers did not prove (1) the existence of the CGL policies for the policy periods of 1961-62, 1962-63, or 1963-64, (2) the material terms and conditions of the alleged CGL policies for the policy periods of 1961-62, 1962-63, 1963-64, or 1964-65, or (3) the terms of the auto policies issued between 1961 and 1970. We address these arguments in turn.

         ¶ 10 The parties disagree about the standard of review. Travelers argues that our standard of review is de novo. It is well-settled that we review a circuit court's summary judgment ruling de novo. This is particularly true where the parties file cross-motions for summary judgment on the same issue, since they typically agree that only a question of law is involved and invite the court to decide the case based on the record before it. Pielet v. Pielet, 2012 IL 112064, ¶¶ 28, 30. Summary judgment may be granted on cross-motions for summary judgment where it is clear that all material facts are before the court, the issues are defined, and the parties agree that only a question of law is involved. Haberer v. Village of Sauget, 158 Ill.App.3d 313, 317 (1987) (citing Allen v. Meyer, 14 Ill.2d 284, 292 (1958)). But it is also true that the mere filing of cross-motions for summary judgment does not obligate the circuit court to grant one of the motions, (Pielet, 2012 IL 112064, ¶ 28), and if reasonable people could draw different inferences from the undisputed facts, summary judgment is inappropriate (Danada Square, LLC v. KFC National Management Co., 392 Ill.App.3d 598, 607 (2009) (citing Mountbatten Surety Co. v. Szabo Contracting, Inc., 349 Ill.App.3d 857, 867 (2004))).

         ¶ 11 Rogers argues, however, that we should review the circuit court's decision under the manifest weight of the evidence standard because the circuit court's ruling "more closely resembles judgment after a bench trial" or a motion for judgment under section 2-1110 of the Code of Civil Procedure. See, e.g., Chicago's Pizza v. Chicago's Pizza Franchise, Ltd., 384 Ill.App.3d 849, 859 (2008) ("The standard ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.