Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 16 M115375
Honorable Jim Ryan, Judge, presiding.
S. Deutschman, of Deutschman & Associates, P.C., of
Chicago, for appellant.
H. Yousuf, and Faizan A. Khan, both of Chicago, for appellee.
LAMPKIN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Justices Reyes and Burke concurred in the judgment and
Plaintiff insurer United Services Auto Association (United)
filed a subrogation action to recover property damages as a
result of a vehicle collision between its insured and the
defendant driver, Dawn Gobenciong Selina. At the mandatory
arbitration hearing, United failed to comply with
defendant's request to produce United's adjustor. The
arbitration panel denied defendant's request for a bad
against United, found instead that all the parties had
participated in the hearing in good faith, and issued an
award in favor of United.
Defendant rejected the arbitration award, requested a hearing
in the circuit court, and subsequently moved the court to bar
United from presenting any evidence and testimony at trial as
a sanction for United's failure to produce its adjustor.
The circuit court granted defendant's motion and
subsequently denied United's motion to reconsider that
ruling. Thereafter, the circuit court granted defendant's
motion for a directed verdict.
¶ 3 On
appeal, United argues that the circuit court erred when it
(1) barred United from introducing any evidence or testimony
at trial as a sanction for United's failure to produce
its adjustor at the arbitration hearing where that failure
was inadvertent and the arbitration panel found that United
had participated in the hearing in good faith, (2) denied
United's motion for reconsideration based on the
court's erroneous application of existing law to the
facts of this case, and (3) entered a directed verdict at
trial as a result of these erroneous rulings.
¶ 4 For
the reasons that follow, we hold that the circuit court
abused its discretion when it barred United from presenting
any evidence or testimony at the trial based on United's
failure to produce its adjuster at the prior mandatory
arbitration hearing where the arbitration panel found that
all the parties had participated in the hearing in good faith
and the circuit court's severe sanction extended to other
issues in the case unrelated to the absence of the adjuster.
Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the circuit court and
remand this matter for further proceedings.
¶ 6 On
January 22, 2016, United's insured, Darius Karalis, and
defendant were in a vehicle collision on Interstate 55 in
Hodgkins, Illinois. In November 2016, United filed its
complaint for subrogation against defendant, alleging she
negligently collided with the rear end of Karalis's
vehicle because she drove too closely behind it and failed to
drive at a reasonable speed, keep a proper lookout, maintain
control of her vehicle, and keep her braking mechanism in
good working order. United requested $7079.62 in damages as
the amount it was required to expend under the terms of the
deductible collision clause of its insurance policy with
Karalis. The case was ordered to mandatory arbitration to
determine liability and damages.
During discovery, defendant, pursuant to Illinois Supreme
Court Rule 237(b) (eff. July 1, 2005), served United with a
notice requiring the presence of Karalis and "an
adjuster or representative from United who can competently
testify regarding the alleged damages * * * at the
trial/arbitration in order that Defendant may call as
¶ 8 In
June 2017, United filed a motion with the circuit court to
excuse the adjustor from the arbitration. United argued that
it would produce its insured driver; this was a property
damage subrogation case rather than a total loss claim; the
alleged damages were $7079.62 and the paid vehicle repair
bill was a presumptively admissible document pursuant to
Illinois Supreme Court Rule 90(c) (eff. July 1, 2008); and
requiring an adjuster to testify at the arbitration would not
further the case, add any additional pertinent testimony,
or bolster defendant's case. This motion was scheduled
for hearing on July 12, 2017, but was stricken when ...