Justia Insurance Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court
North Star Mutual Insurance v. Ackerman, et al.
North Star Mutual Insurance appealed a declaratory judgment holding that a commercial general liability policy it issued to Jayme Ackerman, doing business as Ackerman Homes, provided coverage for Ackerman’s potential liability arising from an accident involving Kyle Lantz, and that North Star has a duty to defend Ackerman. North Star argued the district court erred in finding coverage because the policy excluded accidents arising out of the use of an automobile. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's judgment, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "North Star Mutual Insurance v. Ackerman, et al." on Justia Law
Great West Casualty Company v. Butler Machinery Company
Bad Habit Trucking LLC owned a 1996 Peterbilt truck. Great West Casualty Company insured the truck. Dusty Weinreis, a member of Bad Habit Trucking LLC, took the truck to Butler Machinery Company for service work. The truck was destroyed by fire after the service work was completed but before Weinreis paid for the services. Great West paid Bad Habit Trucking $85,000 for the loss of the truck in accordance with the insurance policy. In November 2017 Butler sued Weinreis in small claims court for the unpaid service work. Weinreis counterclaimed in small claims court for the statutory maximum, $15,000, alleging loss of use of the truck, lost profits, cost to repair and replace the truck, and loss of personal property. Prior to the small claims hearing Butler moved to dismiss the case without prejudice. Weinreis resisted the motion, and a small claims hearing took place in 2018. The court awarded Butler $8,041.57 for the unpaid service work and awarded Weinreis $15,000 for lost profits. Offsetting the recoveries resulted in a net award to Weinreis of $6,958.43. In June 2018 Great West sued Butler in district court for $81,753.32 for the loss of the truck plus interest and costs. Butler moved to dismiss under N.D.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), arguing the case was fully decided in small claims court when Weinreis sued Butler for loss of the truck. The district court granted Butler’s motion to dismiss because the issue stemmed from the same transaction or occurrence, and found Great West should have filed a claim for damages in the small claims action. Great West moved to reconsider on the basis that Weinreis was the defendant in the small claims action, not Great West or Bad Habit Trucking. Great West argued privity did not exist between Weinreis in his personal capacity and Great West as the insurance company for Bad Habit Trucking. The district court denied the motion to reconsider. The North Dakota Supreme Court found the district court erred in dismissing Great West's claim, and reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Great West Casualty Company v. Butler Machinery Company" on Justia Law
Nodak Mutual Insurance Company v. Steffes, et al.
Keith Steffes, Kelly Steffes and Tasha (Rohrbach) Steffes appealed a district court order granting Nodak Mutual Insurance Company’s motion for a new trial. The Steffeses argued the district court abused its discretion in vacating the judgment and granting Nodak’s motion for a new trial. The North Dakota Supreme Court dismissed the appeal because the order granting a new trial was not then reviewable. View "Nodak Mutual Insurance Company v. Steffes, et al." on Justia Law
North Dakota v. Hunt
Javonne Hunt appealed a district court order requiring him to pay $27,501.86 in restitution to Blue Cross Blue Shield (“BCBS”). In 2017, Hunt was playing basketball at the YMCA in Bismarck, North Dakota when he was involved in an altercation with an opposing player. Hunt intentionally struck the opposing player in the jaw causing a bone fracture. Hunt was charged and subsequently found guilty by a jury of aggravated assault. Following his conviction, Hunt agreed to pay as restitution the out-of-pocket medical expenses incurred by the injured individual in the amount of $3,233.07. BCBS provided evidence that it had paid an additional $27,501.86 for the medical treatment of the injured individual under the injured individual’s policy of insurance. The district court applied N.D.C.C. 12.1-32-08(1) in granting restitution to BCBS and ordered Hunt to pay a total of $30,734.93; $3,233.07 for the conceded out-of-pocket costs plus the $27,501.86 claimed by BCBS. Hunt argued BCBS is precluded from recovery of its expenditures in the criminal proceedings because the definition of “victim” under N.D. Const. art. I, section 25 was incompatible with a recovery by a corporation under the criminal restitution statute, N.D.C.C. 12.1-32-08(1). The North Dakota Supreme Court found no reversible error in the district court’s judgment and affirmed the order. View "North Dakota v. Hunt" on Justia Law
Dahms v. Nodak Mutal Insurance Co.
Scott and Shannon Dahms appealed the grant of summary judgment which dismissed their action against Nodak Mutual Insurance Company to obtain additional insurance payments, and against their insurance agent, Mike Bruckbauer, for damages resulting from his alleged violation of professional duties owed to them. Because the district court correctly interpreted the insurance policy as applied to the undisputed facts, and because the Dahms failed to raise a genuine issue of fact to support their professional negligence claim, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed dismissal. View "Dahms v. Nodak Mutal Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Borsheim Builders Supply, Inc. v. Manger Insurance, Inc.
Borsheim Builders Supply, Inc., doing business as Borsheim Crane Service, ("Borsheim") appealed a declaratory judgment granting summary judgment to Mid-Continent Casualty Company and dismissing Borsheim's claims for coverage. After review of the facts presented, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in concluding Construction Services, Inc. ("CSI"), and Whiting Oil and Gas Corporation were not insureds entitled to defense and indemnity under the "additional insured" endorsement in the commercial general liability ("CGL") policy Mid-Continent issued to Borsheim. Furthermore, the Court concluded the court erred in holding Mid-Continent had no duty to defend or indemnify Borsheim, CSI, and Whiting under the CGL policy for the underlying bodily injury lawsuit. View "Borsheim Builders Supply, Inc. v. Manger Insurance, Inc." on Justia Law
James Vault & Precast Co. v. B&B Hot Oil Service, Inc.
Steve Forster, Daniel Krebs, and Debra Krebs (collectively "Forster/Krebs") appealed the dismissal of their claims against B&B Hot Oil Service, Inc., and JB's Welding. Forster/Krebs argued the district court erred in construing language in a lease agreement with B&B Hot Oil as a waiver of their claims against B&B Hot Oil for damages to their building and property and to preclude a subrogation claim by their insurer, Acuity, against B&B Hot Oil. Forster/Krebs also argued the district court improperly granted summary judgment dismissing their claims against JB's Welding for concerted action and a joint venture. B&B Hot Oil leased one-half of a building owned by Forster/Krebs and used the leased property to store two hot oil trucks. An explosion in January 2010, destroyed the building and its contents and damaged surrounding property. The alleged cause of the explosion was a propane leak from one of the hot oil trucks, which has been referred to by the parties as a "knock off" truck built through "reverse engineering" by B&B Hot Oil with assistance from JB's Welding. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded a stipulation to dismiss Forster/Krebs' other remaining claims against JB's Welding without prejudice did not make the judgment final for purposes of appellate jurisdiction, the Court dismissed the appeal. View "James Vault & Precast Co. v. B&B Hot Oil Service, Inc." on Justia Law
Forsman v. Blues, Brews & Bar-B-Ques Inc.
United Fire & Casualty Company appealed a district court judgment awarding Carol Forsman $249,554.30 in her garnishment action against United Fire, commenced after she settled claims in the underlying suit against Blues, Brews and Bar-B-Ques, Inc., d.b.a. Muddy Rivers. Muddy Rivers was a bar in Grand Forks that was insured by United Fire under a commercial general liability ("CGL") policy. In 2010, Forsman sued Muddy Rivers and Amanda Espinoza seeking damages for injuries to her leg allegedly sustained while a guest at a February 2010 private party at Muddy Rivers. Muddy Rivers notified United Fire of the suit and requested coverage. United Fire denied defense and indemnification based on the policy's exclusions for assault and battery and liquor liability. However, after appeals and reconsideration, the court ruled in Forsman's favor, finding the settlement amount was reasonable. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the court erred in granting summary judgment because material fact issues existed on whether exclusions for "assault and battery" and "liquor liability" in the CGL policy excluded coverage of Forsman's negligence claim against Muddy Rivers. Furthermore, the Court concluded further conclude the court properly granted summary judgment to Forsman holding United Fire had a duty to defend Muddy Rivers under the CGL policy in the underlying suit. Therefore, the Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Forsman v. Blues, Brews & Bar-B-Ques Inc." on Justia Law
Gillespie v. National Farmers Union Property & Casualty Co.
Samantha Gillespie and her mother, Tina Taylor, appealed the grant of summary judgment dismissing their lawsuit against Taylor's motor vehicle insurer, National Farmers Union, for underinsured motor vehicle coverage. Gillespie and Taylor sued Farmers Union for underinsured motor vehicle coverage, alleging Gillespie was insured under her mother's motor vehicle policy with Farmers Union and was driving a motor vehicle owned by another person when Gillespie lost control of the vehicle and it overturned, resulting in significant injuries to her. According to Gillespie and Taylor, the motor vehicle was owned by Angela Ayers, Gillespie's aunt, and insured by GEICO. Ayers died as a result of the accident and another passenger in the motor vehicle sustained significant injuries. Gillespie and Taylor asserted GEICO paid Gillespie $25,000 in no-fault benefits, but denied her request for liability coverage based on a claim that Ayers negligently entrusted the vehicle to Gillespie, an alleged inexperienced driver who received her learner's permit two days before the accident. After review, the Supreme Court concluded Gillespie and Taylor failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact about whether Gillespie was legally entitled to collect for bodily injury from the owner or operator of an underinsured motor vehicle, and affirmed. View "Gillespie v. National Farmers Union Property & Casualty Co." on Justia Law
Bjorneby v. Nodak Mutual Insurance Company
The Bjornebys insured their farming operation with a Nodak Mutual insurance policy. Bryan Hurst was their insurance agent. During potato harvest, a fire started in the break room of the Bjornebys' potato washing facility. The fire spread and caused substantial damage. The Bjornebys filed an insurance claim, and Nodak Mutual covered a number of losses. Nodak Mutual, however, refused to cover certain potatoes because the Bjornebys reported the potatoes after they became aware of the fire. The Bjornebys sued alleging Nodak Mutual breached their insurance contract and Hurst was negligent. A jury returned a general verdict in the Bjornebys' favor; the verdict did not allocate liability between Nodak Mutual and Hurst. Nodak Mutual and Hurst moved for judgment as a matter of law or, in the alternative, a new trial. The district court denied their motions. Both Nodak Mutual and Hurst appealed. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court's decision. View "Bjorneby v. Nodak Mutual Insurance Company" on Justia Law