Insurer not Obligated to Defend Insured in Personal Injury Action against Insured Based on Insured’s Failure to Comply with Notice and Cooperation Provisions of Policy

In American Service Ins. Co. v. Miller, the automobile insurer filed suit against its insured and a bicyclist, seeking declaratory judgment that insured’s noncompliance with notice and cooperation provisions of the policy relieved insurer of any obligation to defend insured in bicyclist’s action against insured for damages arising out of a collision. The Circuit Court in St. Clair County struck insurer’s pleading as sanction for discovery violations, imposing sanctions of $20,000 for failure to conduct a reasonable investigation before filing an action or pleading, plus interest, attorney fees, and costs. Bicyclist appealed, and insurer cross-appealed.

On appeal, the Bicyclist contends the trial court erred because: (1) the court’s denial of his request for a monetary fine against the plaintiff was “contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence and therefore an abuse of discretion”; (2) the court’s denial of the Bicyclist’s request for sanctions against the plaintiff’s attorney “was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence”; (3) the court’s finding that the plaintiff’s policy with the insured had a limit of $20,000 was against the manifest weight of the evidence; and (4) the court erred in its calculation of the interest due pursuant to its sanctions. On cross-appeal, the plaintiff contends no sanctions should have been awarded.

The court found that the insured motorist’s policy limit was $20,000 and not against the manifest weight of evidence. The court determined that the insurer was not obligated to defend insured in the personal injury action against insured based on insured’s failure to comply with the notice and cooperation provisions of the policy. Despite insurer’s multiple attempts to provide a copy of the insured’s policy in effect at the time of accident, the submitted declarations page was the actual declarations page issued to the insured with the policy limit of $20,000.

American Service Ins. Co. v. Miller, 2014 IL App (5th) 140252.