Can An Affirmative Defense Based Upon An 'Act of God' Be the Basis of a Summary Judgement ?
In Grote v. Estate of Franklin, 214 Ill. App. 3d 261, 573 N.E.2d 360, 157 Ill. Dec. 942 (1991), the plaintiff filed a complaint against the defendant, decedent's estate, alleging that the decedent had negligently operated her car, causing it to cross the centerline of the road and hit the plaintiff's car.
The uncontradicted expert deposition testimony of a pathologist and cardiologist showed that the decedent suffered intracranial bleeding, which caused her to promptly, and without warning, lose consciousness. Grote, 214 Ill. App. 3d at 267-68, 573 N.E.2d at 364.
In addition, witnesses to the collision provided depositions consistent with the medical expert's opinions. Grote, 214 Ill. App. 3d at 273, 573 N.E.2d at 368.
The defendant filed an affirmative defense alleging an act of God was the sole and proximate cause of the accident. Grote, 214 Ill. App. 3d at 262, 573 N.E.2d at 361.
The defendant then moved for summary judgment on that affirmative defense, which the trial court later granted. Grote, 214 Ill. App. 3d at 262-63, 573 N.E.2d at 361.
On appeal, the plaintiff argued, in pertinent part, that "an affirmative defense based upon an 'act of God' cannot be the basis for a summary judgment." Grote, 214 Ill. App. 3d at 271, 573 N.E.2d at 366.
The Second District in Grote disagreed and distinguished the cases the plaintiff relied upon for that proposition. Grote, 214 Ill. App. 3d at 271, 573 N.E.2d at 366-67.
The court also concluded that summary judgment is not precluded when the movant raises an affirmative defense based upon an act of God. Grote, 214 Ill. App. 3d at 273, 573 N.E.2d at 368.