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Reagan VS. State Farm Arbitration Decision Upheld by Circuit Judge

Monday, January, 21, 2013

In the Fifth District Appellate Court, an arbitration award ruling was upheld yet again, after several attempts to overturn it—the last of which was a ruling by Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn who ruled in favor of the defendant, State Farm Insurance Company. 

The plaintiff, Warren Reagan, has made several attempts to appeal the original arbitration ruling that had been in State Farm’s favor.  The original case involved a 1994 car accident in which Michael Reagan, Warren Reagan’s son, was killed.  Following the accident, Warren Reagan sought for benefits under his State Farm insurance policy that covered damaged due to the negligence of drivers who were underinsured.  According to his claim, the underinsured drive, Lloyd Searcy, was the driver of the other vehicle and was at fault due to his own negligence, which caused the accident.

The insurance policy in question, however, stated that the insured and the insurance company had to agree on whether the insured was able to pursue such damages from the underinsured;  if there was agreement, both the insured and the insurer also had to agree on the amount that could be pursued.  In the event that this agreement couldn’t be reached, arbitration would be necessary according to the policy.  

In the original arbitration hearing that resulted from this dispute, the arbitrators ruled that Reagan did not meet the burden of proof in showing that the other driver was 50% or more liable for the accident.  After this ruling, Reagan filed a petition to vacate the award and was denied the motion by Judge McGlynn. 

After further appeal, Reagan was again disappointed as the appeals panel affirmed the Judge’s decision, on the grounds that “it is well-settled in Illinois that in action to determine if insurance coverage is present, ‘the burden is on the insured to prove that its claim falls within the coverage of an insurance policy.’