Articles Posted in Insurance Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court dismissing the claims filed by Depositors Insurance Company against Craig Dollansky after concluding that Depositors was barred by Minn. Stat. 60A.41(a) from proceeding against Dollansky in a subrogation action, holding that the statute indeed barred Depositors from proceeding in this action. Depositors insured a motor vehicle home owned by Karavan Trailers, Inc., which rented the motor home to Dollansky. The rental agreement provided that Dollansky was responsible for all damages to the RV during the term of the agreement. The motor vehicle caught fire while Dollansky was driving it. Karavan submitted a claim to its insurer, Depositors, which paid the full amount of the damages. Depositors then filed a complaint against Dollansky, alleging that Depositors was surrogated to the rights of Karavan in the same amount. The district court dismissed the claims, concluding that Depositors was barred by section 60A.41(a) from proceeding against Dollansky in a subrogation action. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that where Depositors provided insurance coverage to Dollansky as a permissive-use driver and the loss was caused by the nonintentional acts of Dollansky, section 60A.41(a) barred Depositors from proceeding against Dollansky in a subrogation action. View "Depositors Insurance Co. v. Dollansky" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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Claims brought against the manufacturer of a component part of an improvement to real property fell under an exception to the ten-year statute of repose because the improvement was “machinery installed upon real property.” See Minn. Stat. 541.051. Appellant manufactured the motor in a home’s heat-recovery ventilator. Sixteen years after the ventilator was installed, a fire started in the ventilator, causing property damage to the home. Respondent, the insurer of the homeowners, brought this subrogation action against Appellant. The district court granted summary judgment for Appellant, concluding that the ten-year statute of response for improvements to real property barred every claim except the claim alleging a post-sale duty to warn, which claim it dismissed upon summary judgment. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) under the plain language of section 541.051, the ventilator containing Appellant’s motor was “machinery installed upon real property,” and therefore, the court of appeals properly reinstated Respondent’s breach of warranty, negligence, and product liability claims; and (2) Appellant did not have a duty to warn consumers of its product’s alleged defect after the time of sale. View "Great Northern Insurance Co. v. Honeywell International, Inc." on Justia Law

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Claims brought against the manufacturer of a component part of an improvement to real property fell under an exception to the ten-year statute of repose because the improvement was “machinery installed upon real property.” See Minn. Stat. 541.051. Appellant manufactured the motor in a home’s heat-recovery ventilator. Sixteen years after the ventilator was installed, a fire started in the ventilator, causing property damage to the home. Respondent, the insurer of the homeowners, brought this subrogation action against Appellant. The district court granted summary judgment for Appellant, concluding that the ten-year statute of response for improvements to real property barred every claim except the claim alleging a post-sale duty to warn, which claim it dismissed upon summary judgment. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) under the plain language of section 541.051, the ventilator containing Appellant’s motor was “machinery installed upon real property,” and therefore, the court of appeals properly reinstated Respondent’s breach of warranty, negligence, and product liability claims; and (2) Appellant did not have a duty to warn consumers of its product’s alleged defect after the time of sale. View "Great Northern Insurance Co. v. Honeywell International, Inc." on Justia Law

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A facsimile transmission is not a “delivery” under Minn. R. Civ. P. 3.01(c), which requires that a summons be “delivered” to the sheriff before an action is commenced, because Rule 3.01(c) contemplates personal delivery to the office of the sheriff. In this case, Plaintiff faxed a summons and complaint to the sheriffs in two counties. Deputy sheriffs from both counties personally served Defendants. Defendants moved to dismiss the action, arguing that facsimile transmission did not constitute “delivery” of the summons under Rule 3.01(c). The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the sheriffs completed service of process on each of the defendants, thus commencing Plaintiff’s action under Rule 3.01(a). View "Cox v. Mid-Minnesota Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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A facsimile transmission is not a “delivery” under Minn. R. Civ. P. 3.01(c), which requires that a summons be “delivered” to the sheriff before an action is commenced, because Rule 3.01(c) contemplates personal delivery to the office of the sheriff. In this case, Plaintiff faxed a summons and complaint to the sheriffs in two counties. Deputy sheriffs from both counties personally served Defendants. Defendants moved to dismiss the action, arguing that facsimile transmission did not constitute “delivery” of the summons under Rule 3.01(c). The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the sheriffs completed service of process on each of the defendants, thus commencing Plaintiff’s action under Rule 3.01(a). View "Cox v. Mid-Minnesota Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the permissibility of preaward interest on an insurance appraisal award under the preaward interest statute, Minn. Stat. 549.09, subd. 1(b). Cincinnati Insurance Company issued James Poehler a homeowner’s insurance policy that provided replacement cost coverage for Poehler’s home and personal property. After a fire damaged Poehler’s property, Poehler demanded an appraisal under the appraisal clause of the policy. The appraisers issued an award, determining that Poehler’s total loss was more than what Cincinnati had paid by the time of the appraisal hearing. The district court confirmed the appraisal award and granted Poehler preaward interest. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the preaward interest statute does not apply to appraisal awards pursuant to an insurance policy in the absence of “an underlying breach of contract or actionable wrongdoing.” The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 549.09 does not require a finding of wrongdoing for the recovery of a reward interest on appraisal awards; (2) the loss payment provision in Cincinnati’s insurance policy did not preclude Poehler from recovering preaward interest on the appraisal award; and (3) the loss payment provision in Minn. Stat. 65A.01, the Minnesota standard fire insurance policy, did not apply in this case. View "Poehler v. Cincinnati Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Appellant suffered injuries after being hit by another driver. The at-fault driver’s liability insurer paid Appellant $100,000, the full amount available under the policy. Appellant made a settlement demand on State Farm, with whom he had an underinsured-motorist policy that also had a $100,000 coverage limit. State Farm offered less than $30,000 to settle the claim. Appellant filed a complaint against State Farm alleging breach of contract and claiming that he was entitled to the full amount recoverable under the policy. The district court ultimately entered judgment in the amount of $98,800. Thereafter, Appellant amended his complaint to add a claim under Minn. Stat. 604.18, which authorizes the award of “taxable costs” when an insurer denies benefits without a reasonable basis. The district court concluded that State Farm had denied Appellant insurance benefits without a reasonable basis. The court then determined that the “proceeds awarded” to an insured under section 604.18 are capped by the insurance policy limit. The court of appeals affirmed after determining that the state was ambiguous. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 604.18 unambiguously caps “proceeds awarded” at the amount recoverable under the insurance policy. View "Wilbur v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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American Family Insurance Company (American Family) issued automobile insurance policies to policyholders that were later injured in automobile accidents. The policy contained an anti-assignment clause, but, in order to obtain medical treatment, the policyholders assigned their interests in basic economic loss benefits to their medical provider, Stand Up Multipositional Advantage MRI, P.A. (Stand Up). Stand Up filed suit against the policyholders, their attorneys, and American Family for failing to make payment directly to Stand Up in accordance with the assignments. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants, concluding that the anti-assignment clause was unenforceable, and therefore, the assignments to Stand Up were valid. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the anti-assignment clause was valid and precluded the assignments the policyholders made to Stand Up. View "Stand Up Multipositional Advantage MRI, P.A. v. American Family Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Appellant, who was injured in a car accident, sought basic economic loss benefits under Minnesota’s No-Fault Automobile Insurance Act from his insurer, Founders Insurance Company. An arbitrator awarded Appellant $19,128 in basic economic loss benefits. The district court confirmed the arbitration award. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the Founders was not required to provide basic economic loss coverage because Founders was an out-of-state insurer that did not write motor vehicle insurance in Minnesota. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Minn. Stat. 65B.50(2) requires an out-of-state insurer to provide no-fault benefits to its insured when its insured is in an accident in Minnesota and the insured vehicle is in Minnesota, even if the insurer is not licensed by the state to issue motor vehicle insurance. View "Founders Insurance Co. v. Yates" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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Respondent suffered a work-related back injury. Respondent and her employer entered into a “full, final, and complete” settlement of Respondent’s claims for workers’ compensation benefits related to that injury. Respondent later filed a claim petition seeking additional benefits for the back injury, alleging a lumbar spine injury with consequential depression and anxiety. The employer moved to dismiss the petition on the ground that Respondent was first required to bring a motion to vacate the existing settlement agreement before bringing a new claim. The workers’ compensation judge denied the motion, concluding that the settlement agreement did not foreclose a later claim for consequential psychological injury. The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that the settlement agreement did not foreclose claims from the same incident that were not mentioned in the agreement without evidence that those claims were contemplated by the parties at the time they entered into the agreement. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the language of the settlement agreement was sufficient settle conditions and complications that arise out of, and are a consequence of, Respondent’s workers’ compensation injury. View "Ryan v. Potlatch Corp." on Justia Law