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Crowley v. Empire Fire And Marine Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

June 18, 2019

BARBARA CROWLEY, Individually and as Special Administrator of the Estate of Robert T. Crowley, Deceased, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
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).

          Appeal 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.

          OPINION

          SCHOSTOK, JUSTICE.

         ¶ 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 reverse.

         ¶ 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 rental car.

         ¶ 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 husband.

         ¶ 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 ...


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