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.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Elmore

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

September 30, 2019

STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
KENT ELMORE and ARDITH SHELDON ELMORE, Defendants (Kent Elmore, Defendant-Appellant).

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Effingham County. No. 16-MR-137 Honorable Allan F. Lolie, Judge, presiding.

          Attorneys for Appellant Christopher A. Koester, Kara J. Wade, Taylor Law Offices, P.C.

          Attorneys for Appellee Michael J. Bedesky, Martin K. Morrissey, Reed, Armstrong, Mudge & Morrissey, P.C.

          JUSTICE CATES delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Chapman concurred in the judgment and opinion. Presiding Justice Overstreet dissented, with opinion.

          OPINION

          HONORABLE JUDY L. CATES, J

         ¶ 1 Defendant Kent Elmore was severely inj ured while unloading a grain truck which was owned by his father, Ardith Sheldon Elmore (Sheldon), and insured by plaintiff, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (State Farm). Kent filed a claim seeking damages for his injuries under Sheldon's State Farm auto policy. State Farm then filed this action, seeking a judgment declaring that the "mechanical device" exclusion in the auto policy was applicable and barred coverage for Kent's injuries. State Farm and Kent filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The circuit court found that the "mechanical device" exclusion was unambiguous and enforceable, and entered a summary judgment in favor of State Farm. Kent now appeals.[1]

         ¶ 2 On appeal, Kent contends that the circuit court erred in denying his motion for summary judgment and granting State Farm's motion for summary judgment because the "mechanical device" exclusion in the State Farm auto policy was ambiguous and contrary to the purpose of the mandatory motor vehicle liability laws of Illinois. For reasons that follow, we reverse the order of the circuit court entering a summary judgment for State Farm and denying Kent's motion for summary judgment. Pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 366(a)(5) (eff. Feb. 1, 1994), we enter a summary judgment in favor of defendant, Kent Elmore.

         ¶ 3 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 4 On October 16, 2013, Kent was helping his father, Sheldon, harvest corn from one of Sheldon's fields. At one point during the day, Kent was helping transfer a load of corn from Sheldon's grain truck into a transport truck. A grain auger with a hopper attached at its lower end was being used to collect and move the corn from the grain truck into the transport truck. Kent backed the grain truck up to the auger so that the auger's hopper abutted the rear of the truck. The auger's hopper was located directly beneath the grain truck's dumping shoot. As the corn was being emptied from the dumping shoot into the hopper, the rotating auger blades would draw corn from the hopper and carry it up toward the top of the auger, eventually depositing it into the transport truck. The auger was powered by a tractor equipped with a "power take off (PTO) shaft. After Kent aligned the hopper under the dumping shoot, Kent grabbed two levers located on the back gate of the grain truck in order to open it and release the corn out of the truck and into the hopper. Kent wanted extra leverage to open the truck's back gate, so he stepped up onto the auger. The protective shield covering the auger's moving parts had been removed. As Kent stepped up onto the auger, his right foot became entangled in the turning auger blades. Kent suffered a traumatic amputation of his right leg above the knee.

         ¶ 5 Sheldon had furnished the grain truck and the auger-hopper equipment that Kent was using at the time he was injured. The grain truck, a 2002 Ford International 4900, was owned by Sheldon and insured under an auto policy issued by State Farm. Sheldon was a named insured on the policy.

         ¶ 6 On March 31, 2016, Kent filed a negligence action against Sheldon seeking to recover for his injuries under Sheldon's auto policy. On November 1, 2016, State Farm filed this declaratory judgment action asking the court to determine the rights and liabilities of the parties under the terms and provisions of the auto policy. In the original complaint for declaratory judgment, State Farm asserted that there was no coverage under the auto policy because Kent's injury was caused by an auger, and the auger was neither a car nor a trailer, and was thus not an insured vehicle within the meaning of the auto policy. On January 6, 2017, State Farm filed an amended complaint adding an allegation that the auger was a mechanical device and was thereby excluded from coverage under the "mechanical device" exclusion ("Endorsement 6018GG.1.") in the policy. A certified copy of the State Farm policy in effect at the time of the occurrence was attached to the complaint for declaratory judgment.

         ¶ 7 The Declarations Page of the State Farm policy identified the insured vehicle as a 2002 International Model 4900 truck to be used in farming operations. The Declarations Page also showed that the bodily injury liability limits were $250, 000 per person and $500, 000 per accident. The following policy documents were attached to the Declarations Page: "State Farm® Car Policy Booklet"; two endorsements identified as "6018GG. COMMERCIAL VEHICLE" and "6018GG.1 COMMERCIAL VEHICLE"; an endorsement identified as "6913B AMENDATORY ENDORSEMENT"; and a one-page document entitled "6055ZZ FARM TRUCK (Coverage While Towing Trailers and Farm Implements)."

         ¶ 8 The liability section of the State Farm® Car Policy Booklet provided in pertinent part:

"LIABILITY COVERAGE
***
Additional Definition
Insured means:
1. you and resident relatives for:
a. the ownership, maintenance, or use of:
(1) your car;
***
3. any other person for his or her ...

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.