BARBARA CROWLEY, Individually and as Special Administrator of the Estate of Robert T. Crowley, Deceased, Plaintiff-Appellee,
EMPIRE FIRE AND MARINE INSURANCE COMPANY; ENTERPRISE LEASING COMPANY OF CHICAGO, LLC; ENTERPRISE HOLDINGS, INC.; and THOMAS BRUEN, Defendants(Empire Fire and Marine Insurance Company, Defendant-Appellant).
from the Circuit Court of De Kalb County. No. 17-MR-305
Honorable William P. Brady, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE SCHOSTOK delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Birkett and Justice Hutchinson
concurred in the judgment and opinion.
1 This case concerns whether an exclusion in a
supplemental insurance policy that Empire Fire and
Marine Insurance Company (Empire) issued to John Bruen was
unenforceable as a matter of public policy. The exclusion
applied if the insured was under the influence of alcohol or
drugs. The circuit court of De Kalb County determined that
the intoxication exclusion was unenforceable and therefore
entered summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff, Barbara
Crowley. Empire appeals from the trial court's order. We
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 On June 12, 2015, John Bruen rented a 2015 Volkswagen Jetta
from Enterprise. He purchased "full coverage"
insurance, which included "Supplemental Liability
Protection" (SLP or excess policy). The insurance was
provided by Empire. The insurance policy provided coverage
through a surety bond in the amount of $100, 000, with the
potential for an additional $900, 000 of excess liability
coverage. The SLP policy included an exclusion that the
insurance did not apply to a loss where the insured was under
the influence of alcohol or drugs. The rental agreement
listed Thomas Bruen as an additional authorized driver of the
4 On June 13, 2015, Thomas Bruen, while driving the rental
car, was involved in a motor vehicle accident that killed
Robert Crowley and injured his wife Barbara Crowley. Thomas
Bruen had marijuana, cocaine, and opiates in his system at
the time of the accident, and he was subsequently convicted
of aggravated driving under the influence of drugs (625 ILCS
5/11-501(d)(1)(C), (F) (West 2014)).
5 On May 1, 2017, Barbara Crowley filed a personal-injury
complaint against Thomas Bruen. She alleged that Thomas
Bruen's negligent operation of the rental car caused the
accident and the resulting injuries to her and her late
6 On September 29, 2017, Barbara Crowley filed a complaint
against Enterprise Leasing Company of Chicago, LLC, and
Enterprise Holdings, Inc. (Enterprise defendants), as well as
Empire, seeking a declaration that the Empire excess policy
provided coverage for the claims that she had asserted
against Thomas Bruen in the underlying case.
7 On January 16, 2018, Crowley filed a motion for a judgment
on the pleadings against Empire. She argued that Empire was
obligated to provide coverage based on its insurance contract
with John Bruen. She asserted that the intoxication exclusion
in the Empire policy was void because it was contrary to
Illinois public policy.
8 On February 23, 2018, Empire filed a motion for summary
judgment on Crowley's action. Empire argued that, based
on the language of the insurance contract, Thomas Bruen was
not entitled to coverage, because he was intoxicated at the
time of the accident. Empire insisted that the insurance
contract was neither ambiguous nor against public policy.
9 On July 18, 2018, the trial court denied Empire's
motion for summary judgment and indicated that it would treat
Crowley's motion for judgment on the pleadings as a
motion for summary judgment.
10 On August 15, 2018, the trial court granted Crowley's
motion for summary judgment. Relying on Hertz Corp. v.
Garrott, 238 Ill.App.3d 231 (1992), the trial court
found that the intoxication exclusion in Empire's SLP
policy was unenforceable as against public policy and that
the Empire policy provided an additional $900, 000 of excess
coverage. The trial court also granted Crowley's motion
to nonsuit the Enterprise defendants and ...