Supreme Court Summaries
Opinions filed October 18, 2012
Country Preferred Insurance Co. v. Whitehead, 2012 IL 113365
Appellate citation: 2011 IL App (3d) 110096.
JUSTICE KARMEIER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Justices Freeman, Thomas, Garman, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.
Chief Justice Kilbride dissented, with opinion.
This Illinois driver alleged that she was injured in an accident with an uninsured motorist in Wisconsin on July 27, 2007. In Will County proceedings in which she was defendant, she made a motion to compel arbitration with her insurance company, Country Preferred, but that motion was denied. The insurance company, as plaintiff, had initiated the proceedings, seeking a declaration of noncoverage. Uninsured motorist coverage was part of the policy, but the policy also provided that “any suit, action or arbitration will be barred unless commenced within two years from the date of the accident.” The insurance company contended that the driver had not met this requirement, and the circuit court agreed. The policyholder took an interlocutory appeal.
The appellate court reversed the circuit court’s ruling, persuaded by the driver’s theory that public policy was violated by virtue of the fact that the applicable statute of limitations in Wisconsin is three years, unlike Illinois (and the policy), where it is two years. The insurer appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court. The supreme court said that its review of the facts alleged in the pleadings indicated that, as the circuit court found, the insured never initiated any type of legal action to settle her claim within the policy’s applicable time frame.
In this decision, the appellate court was reversed, and it was held here that there is no public policy violation in requiring the insured driver to bring her suit, action, or arbitration request within two years, the same time period as the Illinois statute of limitations, even though the limitation period in Wisconsin, the state where the accident occurred, is longer.
Because the insured driver had other counts in the counterclaim which she had filed, the cause was remanded to the circuit court for any further action on them.