Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Sixth Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 17 CH 7778
Honorable Celia Gamrath, Judge Presiding.
P. Costello, Ronald J. Dixon, and Michael E. Crane, of
Costello, McMahon, Burke & Murphy, Ltd., of Chicago, for
Cynthia Ramirez, of Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, Ltd., of
Chicago, for appellee.
JUSTICE HARRIS delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Mikva and Justice Connors
concurred in the judgment and opinion.
1 This case concerns a declaratory judgment action by
plaintiff-appellee First Chicago Insurance Company (First
Chicago) against defendant-appellant Ronald Dixon and
defendants My Personal Taxi and Livery Service, Inc. (Livery
Service), and Juan Rangel. First Chicago sought declarations
that (1) First Chicago's insurance coverage of Livery
Service did not encompass injuries to Livery Service
passenger Dixon allegedly caused by the negligence of Rangel,
Livery Service's agent, in assisting or escorting Dixon
to a hospital entrance so that (2) First Chicago had no duty
to defend Livery Service or Rangel regarding Dixon's
claims. Upon cross-motions for summary judgment by First
Chicago and Dixon, the court granted summary judgment for
First Chicago. Dixon appeals, contending that the court erred
in denying him summary judgment and granting summary judgment
for First Chicago. For the reasons stated below, we reverse
the judgment of the circuit court and enter judgment in favor
of Dixon upon his summary judgment motion.
2 I. JURISDICTION
3 Upon cross-motions by First Chicago and Dixon, having
entered defaults against Livery Service and Rangel, the court
granted summary judgment for First Chicago on January 4,
2019. Dixon filed his notice of appeal on January 22, 2019.
Accordingly, this court has jurisdiction over this matter
pursuant to article VI, section 6, of the Illinois
Constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 6) and
Illinois Supreme Court Rule 301 (eff. Feb. 1, 1994) and Rule
303 (eff. July 1, 2017).
4 II. BACKGROUND
5 Dixon brought a personal injury action (lawsuit) against
Livery Service, circuit court No. 16-L-66042, in June 2016
and later amended it to add Rangel as a defendant. Dixon
alleged that Livery Service provided nonemergency medical
transportation to the public, including disabled persons.
Livery Service, through its agent Rangel, transported Dixon,
who is legally blind, from his home to a medical appointment
at a Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) hospital on February
9, 2016. As Rangel escorted or assisted Dixon to the hospital
entrance, Rangel allegedly caused Dixon to walk into a cement
pillar. Dixon alleged that Livery Service and Rangel owed him
a duty of ordinary care in transporting and escorting him and
then breached that duty so that Dixon was injured as a
6 First Chicago brought its declaratory judgment action
(declaratory action) against Dixon, Livery Service, and
Rangel in June 2017 and amended it thereafter. Livery Service
had a business automobile insurance policy (policy) from
First Chicago in effect on February 9, 2016, and a copy of
the policy was attached to the complaint. First Chicago noted
that Dixon's lawsuit alleged that he was injured by an
agent of Livery Service who was assisting or escorting him to
a hospital entrance while transporting Dixon to a medical
appointment. First Chicago argued that Dixon's alleged
injuries were not caused by an accident "resulting from
the ownership, maintenance or use of a covered
'auto'" as provided in the policy. First Chicago
thus sought a judgment that it was not obligated to defend
Livery Service or Rangel regarding Dixon's claims against
Livery Service and Rangel.
7 Dixon appeared and answered in the declaratory action.
Dixon admitted that Livery Service had the policy from First
Chicago and that Dixon made the relevant allegations in his
lawsuit. Dixon denied that his alleged injuries were not
caused by an accident "resulting from the ownership,
maintenance or use of a covered 'auto'" as
provided in the policy and denied that First Chicago had no
duty to defend Livery Service and Rangel.
8 With Livery Service and Rangel having been served with
summons but not having appeared and First Chicago having
filed motions for default against Livery Service and Rangel,
the court found Livery Service and Rangel in default in the
declaratory action in June 2018.
9 First Chicago filed its summary judgment motion in July
2018. First Chicago did not dispute that Rangel drove Dixon
to a medical appointment on February 9, 2016, in a vehicle
owned by Livery Service and leased to Rangel. Attached to the
motion in support of the aforesaid were the depositions of
Dixon and Livery Service co-owner Deidre Pinnick. First
Chicago did not dispute that Dixon was blind and that Rangel
escorted him to the hospital entrance, and First Chicago
noted Dixon's deposition testimony that Rangel
"slung" Dixon into a pole while escorting him.
First Chicago argued that the policy covered injuries
"resulting from the ownership, maintenance or use of a
covered auto" but the insured vehicle was not being
operated at the time of the alleged injury, nor was either
Dixon or Rangel inside the vehicle at that time. First
Chicago argued that various cases interpreting similar
insurance policy language required a causal relationship
between the injury and ownership, maintenance, or use of the
vehicle for the policy to cover the injury. It argued that
Dixon's alleged injury by Rangel did not arise during use
of the Livery Service vehicle because Rangel "had
already transported Mr. Dixon to his destination and Mr.
Dixon had already exited the taxicab before the alleged
injury occurred." In other words, the relationship
between Dixon's alleged injury and use of the insured
vehicle was "merely incidental" and ...