An appellate court in Illinois recently concluded that a decades-old commutation agreement between Old Republic Insurance Company and Central National Insurance Company (predecessor in interest to the defendant), was, in fact, not ambiguous, rendering superfluous the trial at which various extrinsic evidence was introduced in support of the parties’ competing interpretations, after the trial court denied summary judgment based on triable ambiguity.

The parties entered into the agreement in 1990, in an effort to mitigate the effects of Central National’s financial difficulties, which had caused it to be placed in rehabilitation by the State of Nebraska. The parties had come to reinsure one another under various reinsurance agreements. However, Central National argued that the commutation agreement was ambiguous, and was not intended to extinguish certain of Old Republic’s obligations to Central National. The appellate court disagreed, finding the language mutually releasing “all liabilities and obligations of the parties to each other under the reinsurance agreements” to mean just that – that all liabilities and obligations flowing both ways were equally extinguished. Old Republic Ins. Co. v. Ace Property & Casualty Ins. Co., 1-07-2668 (Ill. App. Ct. March 24, 2009).