Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed December 19, 2013

 

 

American Access Casualty Co. v. Reyes, 2013 IL 115601

 

Appellate citation: 2012 IL App (2d) 120296.

 

      JUSTICE BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

      Chief Justice Garman and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Karmeier, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.

      Justice Kilbride dissented, with opinion.

 

      On October 30, 2007, Ana Reyes was driving her vehicle on a street in Elgin when she was involved in an accident with two pedestrians, a mother and her four-year-old son. The boy was seriously injured and died. The mother and her husband sued Reyes for negligence and wrongful death.

      American Access Casualty Company is the plaintiff here. It filed an action seeking a declaration that the policy it had issued to Reyes provided no coverage. State Farm Insurance Company, which provided uninsured-motorist coverage to the mother and son, filed a counter complaint in that action, seeking a declaration that American Access’ attempt to exclude Reyes under its own insurance policy violated public policy and was unlawful. The circuit court of Kane County, however, agreed with American Access and granted it a summary judgment, finding that the insurance policy in question provided no coverage for the accident.

      The American Access policy had been issued to Ana Reyes on her 1999 Chrysler. She was identified as the titleholder of the vehicle, the named insured, and as “driver number one.” However, next to her name, where her driver’s license number should be, was the language “Title Holder Exclude.” Jose Cazarez, her friend, was listed as “driver number two” and identified as the primary driver. There was also an endorsement excluding vehicle operation by Reyes from coverage.

      In this decision, the Illinois Supreme Court explained that section 7-601(a) of the Illinois Safety and Family Financial Responsibility Law, a part of the Illinois Vehicle Code, requires liability insurance for vehicles on the road. This is for the protection of the public. Although the exclusion of named drivers is permitted, exclusion of a vehicle owner who is also the named insured is a violation of the public policy expressed in the statute. The appellate court had so held, and the supreme court affirmed it.

      The circuit court had been incorrect, and the cause was to be remanded there for further proceedings.