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Hand v. Hand

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

February 22, 2018

PATRICIA HAND, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
WILLIAM HAND, Defendant-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit No. 16-L-457, Will County, Illinois. The Honorable Roger D. Rickmon, Judge, presiding.

          JUSTICE McDADE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Carter and Justice Lytton concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          MCDADE, JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 The plaintiff, Patricia Hand, sued her husband, William Hand, for negligence stemming from a vehicle accident that occurred in Indiana. The circuit court dismissed the action after finding that an Indiana statute addressing interspousal immunity applied to bar her cause of action. On appeal, Patricia argues that the court erred when it dismissed her complaint, as she contends that Illinois law, which does not prohibit interspousal tort actions, should apply. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 Patricia and William married in 1971 and have lived in Illinois since December 15, 1971. On June 24, 2014, they embarked in a motor home for Orlando, Florida, for a vacation. Two grandchildren accompanied them on the trip. On July 1, 2014, they began their return trip, which included two overnight stops-one in Georgia and one in Louisville, Kentucky.

         ¶ 4 On July 6, 2014, they left Louisville with the intention of driving home to Crete, Illinois. However, while in Indiana, William lost control of the vehicle, which caused it to strike a concrete wall. Patricia was injured in the accident.

         ¶ 5 On June 20, 2016, Patricia filed a three-count complaint, alleging that William's negligence caused the crash. The only count at issue in this appeal is count I, which alleged that Patricia sustained injuries and incurred damages as a result of the accident.

         ¶ 6 William filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that Indiana's statute on the transportation of guests operated to bar Patricia's cause of action. In relevant part, that statute contains an interspousal immunity provision: "[t]he owner, operator, or person responsible for the operation of a motor vehicle is not liable for loss or damage arising from injuries to or the death of *** the person's spouse." Ind. Code Ann. § 34-30-11-1 (West 2014) (hereinafter Indiana Guest Statute).

         ¶ 7 On November 21, 2016, the circuit court held a hearing on the motion to dismiss. After hearing arguments, the court dismissed the complaint and gave Patricia 28 days to replead. In so ruling, the court told Patricia's attorney, "[y]ou read [Miller v. Hayes, 233 Ill.App.3d 847 (1992)] and you show me some facts like they have in Miller that the conduct started here and we'll re-address the issue."

         ¶ 8 On December 12, 2016, Patricia filed an amended complaint. The only changes to count I were the addition of six sentences that stated the parties married in 1971, had been residents of Illinois since December 15, 1971, left for vacation to Orlando on June 24, 2014, left Orlando for Crete on July 1, 2014, made overnight stops in Georgia and Kentucky, and left Kentucky on July 6, 2014, with the intention of arriving back home in Crete.

         ¶ 9 William filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint, alleging, again, that Indiana's Guest Statute operated to bar Patricia's cause of action.

         ¶ 10 The circuit court held a hearing on April 6, 2017, on William's motion to dismiss. After hearing arguments, the court found no reason to differ from its original ruling that Indiana law applied.

         ¶ 11 ...


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