Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Sixth Division
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff-Appellee,
MARICELA LEON, Defendant-Appellant.
from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 13 CH 26150.
Honorable Michael T. Mullen, Judge Presiding.
Attorneys for Appellant: James M. Urtis, of Chicago, for
Attorneys for Appellee: Bruce Farrel Dorn & Associates,
of Chicago (Ellen J. O’Rourke, of counsel), for
JUSTICE CUNNINGHAM delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justice Connors concurred in the judgment and
1 The plaintiff-appellee, State Farm Mutual Automobile
Insurance Company (State Farm), filed a declaratory judgment
action in the circuit court of Cook County seeking a
declaration that there was no uninsured motorist coverage
available to the defendant-appellant, Maricela Leon. The
circuit court entered a judgment in favor of State Farm, and
Leon now appeals. For the following reasons, we affirm the
judgment of the circuit court of Cook County.
3 Leon had an uninsured motorist policy through State Farm
(the policy). The policy allowed Leon to seek coverage for
any bodily injuries she suffered which were caused by another
driver who did not have insurance. The policy provided, in
"The insured must cooperate with us [(State Farm)] and,
when asked, assist us in *** securing and giving evidence.
*** Any person or organization making claim under this policy
must, when we require, give us proof of loss on forms we
policy further provided that there would be no coverage to
the extent it benefits any workers' compensation
4 The "Legal Action Against Us" section of the
policy provided that Leon must make any demands for
arbitration within two years following the date of the
accident. The policy provided that the limitation period
"is tolled from the date proof of loss is filed for the
specific coverage involved until the date claim for that
coverage is denied in whole or in part."
5 On July 9, 2011, Leon was involved in an automobile
accident in which she sustained bodily injuries (the
accident). At the time of the accident, Leon was working as a
driving instructor for Chavez Trucking. She was riding as a
passenger in a 2008 Nissan Altima (the vehicle) and
instructing Stephani Bernardo, who was driving the vehicle.
The vehicle was owned by Cirinio Aguirre. During the driving
instruction, Bernardo lost control of the vehicle and struck
a brick wall. Through her counsel, Leon then submitted an
uninsured motorist claim to State Farm for coverage for her
6 State Farm then began an investigation into Leon's
claim and sent a letter to Leon's counsel requesting
specific details and documents surrounding the accident.
Leon's counsel submitted the police report from the
accident, as well as a letter from Chavez Trucking's
insurer, Progressive Insurance Company (the Progressive
letter). The Progressive letter, which was addressed to
Chavez Trucking, explained that Chavez Trucking's policy
did not cover bodily injuries sustained by its employees. The
Progressive letter stated: "As [Leon] is an employee of
Chavez Trucking and was injured during course and scope of
employment, we cannot find coverage for this loss and must
respectfully deny any payment."
7 On October 2, 2011, State Farm sent a letter to Leon's
counsel, which stated:
"It is questionable whether [Leon] is entitled to
benefits either payable or required to be paid under any
Worker's Compensation Law, so as to exclude coverage
under the policy with respect to a claim for such injuries.
For this reason, and for any other reasons which may become
known, [State Farm] reserves all its rights under the policy,
including the right to deny coverage in its entirety."
8 Two days later, State Farm sent another letter to
Leon's counsel. The letter requested a recorded statement
from Leon and asked her counsel to contact the claim
representative to "coordinate a date and time for this
to happen." The letter also stated that State Farm was
"looking for written verification that there is no
workers['] compensation insurance covering [Leon] for
this loss." The letter concluded: "Please provide
us with this information when you can."
9 Leon's counsel responded to State Farm by again
submitting a copy of the Progressive letter. State Farm
subsequently sent another letter to Leon's counsel; this
letter requested "written documentation establishing
there is no insurance coverage for the driver of the ***