Articles Posted in Minnesota Supreme Court

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In this arbitration dispute, the district court erred by directing the entry of final judgment rather than staying the proceeding, and the court of appeals, faced with a final appealable judgment, should have vacated the judgment and entered a stay of the underlying action pending completion of the arbitration. Plaintiff sued Defendants to stop arbitration proceedings after Defendants demanded arbitration and an arbitrator determined that the dispute was arbitrable. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants and compelled arbitration. Instead of staying the underlying action, the district court directed the entry of judgment. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the district court’s order was a final judgment because it dismissed, rather than stayed, the underlying proceeding. The court of appeals disagreed and dismissed the appeal as taken from a nonfinal order and judgment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court erred by directing the entry of final judgment rather than staying the proceeding, as required by Minn. Stat. 572B.07(f); and (2) the proper course for the court of appeals, faced with a final judgment that was appealable under Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 103.03(a), was to direct the district court to vacate the judgment and enter a stay of the underlying action pending completion of the arbitration. View "City of Rochester v. Kottschade" on Justia Law

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Second Chance Investments, LLC (SCI) purchased a fire insurance policy from Auto-Owners Insurance Company (Auto-Owners) that covered a building with the limit of insurance set at $2,095,500. The building subsequently suffered extensive fire damage. SCI filed a proof of loss claiming the building was a total loss. Auto-Owners rejected the proof of loss, contending that it did not state the actual cash value of the loss as required by the policy or provide a written estimate of repair to support the claim. After a continued dispute over whether the property was a total loss, Auto-Owners ultimately filed a complaint in district court seeking an order compelling SCI to submit the issue of whether the building was a total loss to a binding determination by an appraisal panel. The district court denied Auto-Owners' motion to compel appraisal and dismissed its complaint. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that a court, rather than an appraisal panel, is the appropriate forum to determine whether the property suffered a total loss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a party to a fire insurance policy does not have the statutory right to have an appraisal panel decide whether a claim involves a total loss. View "Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Second Chance Invs., LLC" on Justia Law

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A home remodeling contractor (Contractor) received a demand for arbitration regarding allegedly defective work it performed on a remodeling project. Contractor's insurer (Insurer) accepted defense of the claim under a reservation of rights. The arbitrator issued an arbitration award in favor of the homeowners. When Insurer refused to pay the award, Contractor paid the homeowners and sued Insurer for indemnification under the policy. The district court granted Contractor's motion for summary judgment, concluding that a vague arbitration award made it impossible to determine whether the insurance policy covered any of the homeonwers' successful claims and was directly attributable to the inaction of the attorney appointed by Insurer to represent Contractor. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a portion of the homeowners' claim may be covered under the policy; (2) Insurer was not vicariously liable of the absence of an explanation of the arbitration award; and (3) Insurer was directly liable to Contractor for the failure of the attorney to request an explanation of the arbitration award to determine what portion of the award, if any, was for the covered claim. Remanded. View "Remodeling Dimensions, Inc., v. Integrity Mut. Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Appellants Bruce and Cindy Thompson filed a claim for basic economic loss benefits against their insurer, Respondent Western National Insurance Company (Western National), arising from injuries they sustained in an automobile accident. Western National paid some benefits, but a dispute arose over the Thompsonsâ obligation to submit to examinations requested by Western National. The Thompsons filed for no-fault arbitration, and Western National moved to stay the arbitration in order to seek a declaratory judgment in the district court. The arbitrator entered awards in favor of the Thompsons. In court, Western National moved for summary judgment, and the Thompsons moved to confirm their awards. The district court denied Western Nationalâs motion and confirmed the awards, concluding that the reasonableness of the Thompsonsâ refusal to attend the examinations was an issue handled by the arbitrator. The appellate court reversed, concluding that the examination question was a question of law for the court to decide. The Supreme Court reversed the appellate court, holding that the examination issue was a question of fact for the arbitrator. The Court reinstated the arbitration awards in favor of the Thompsons.