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Witcher v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.

2018 IL App (5th) 170001 (Ill. App., 2018)

Words & Phrases

Fire Insurance: Appraisal

Trial Judge

John B. Barberis Jr.

Appellate Judge



Insurer was entitled to notice and an opportunity to be heard on insured's petition for appointment of appraisal umpire.

Fact Summary

The defendant, State Farm Fire and Casualty Company (State Farm), appeals from an order denying its motion to vacate the judicial appointment of an appraisal umpire and an order confirming the appraisal award. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand.

It is apparent to us that the section of the appraisal provision permitting either the insured or the insurer to ask “a judge of a court of record” to select an appraisal umpire contemplated the filing of a petition and judicial action. This was not simply an ex parte request to a person who happened to hold the office of circuit judge. Furthermore, the plaintiffs filed a petition in the circuit court of Madison County, entered a formal appearance by counsel, and paid the filing fees. In the petition, the plaintiffs requested “this Court of Record, having jurisdiction,” to appoint an appraisal umpire and retain the case for the filing of the appraisal award and “for any and all such other and further relief” as the court deems just and proper. Thus, the plaintiffs elected to invoke judicial action by the circuit court and were bound to follow the established rules of civil procedure.

Accordingly, the circuit court’s order denying State Farm’s motion to vacate the judicial appointment of an appraisal umpire is reversed, the order appointing Dale F. Peek as the appraisal umpire and the order confirming the appraisal award are hereby vacated, and the cause is remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings.