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Johnson & Condon, P.A. > Firm Details

Location

Hennepin
7401 Metro Boulevard, Suite 600 ,
Minneapolis, Minnesota - 55439

Website

http://www.johnson-condon.com/

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Staff Size : 31
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08-08-2007

In Carlson v. Allstate Ins. Co.,734 N.W.2d 695 (Minn. Ct. App. 2007), the Minnesota Court of Appeals held for the purposes of Minn. Stat. § 65B.49, subd. 3a(5) (2006), a pedestrian must be considered an insured under the policy in order to recover UM benefits.

In Carlson, Aaron Carlson was struck by an uninsured motorist while crossing Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis after having parked his vehicle onthe other side of the street. As a result, Carlson suffered several injuries. Carlson’s vehicle was leased by his father, Robert, and was added to Robert Carlson’s insurance policy with Allstate Insurance Company. Aaron Carlson was also listed as an additional driver. The policy included UM benefits to an “insured person.” The policy defined an insured person as (1) “you and any resident”; (2) “any person while in, on, getting into or out of an insured auto with your permission”; and (3) “any other person who is legally entitled to recover because of bodily injury to you, a resident, or an occupant of your insured auto with your permission.” Further, the policy defined “you” as the policyholder named on the Policy Declarations. At the time of the accident, Carlson was not residing with his parents nor was he in, on, getting into or out of an insured auto. Thus, Carlson was entitled to UM coverage only if he was considered a “policyholder.” Carlson brought suit against Allstate after it denied his claim. The parties brought cross-motions for summary judgment. The district court granted Allstate’s motion against Carlson, finding Carlson was not a named insured under the policy, and therefore, not a policyholder covered by the UM provisions of the policy. Additionally, the district court concluded that because Carlson was not considered an insured person under the UM provisions of the policy, Minn. Stat. § 65B.49, subd. 3a(5) (2006) did not entitle him to coverage. Carlson appealed.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision, concluding Carlson was not entitled to UM coverage for his injuries under the plain language of the Allstate policy and Carlson was not insured by the Allstate policy when he was injured by the uninsured motorist. Accordingly, Minn. Stat. § 65B.49, subd. 3a(5) (2006) does not mandate coverage for Carlson’s injuries. The court rejected the argument that Carlson had a reasonable expectation that UM coverage extended to him because his father was told by the Allstate agent that his children were covered to the same extent as him and his wife. The Minnesota Court of Appeals agreed with the district court’s determination that any expectation of coverage Carlson may have had was defeated by the plain language of the policy, regardless of what Robert Carlson was told by the Allstate agent. Further, the doctrine of reasonable expectations does not eliminate the policyholder’s obligation to read the policy.

We will follow this case in the event of an appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court. If you have any questions regarding this case or other automobile-related issues, please contact any member of our Motor Vehicle Practice Group at (952) 831-6544. This letter, and other Minnesota Appellate Court opinion updates, are now available in .pdf form on the News and Resources page of our Firm’s website: www.johnson-condon.com. If you would prefer to receive our case law updates by email only, please sign up at www.johnson-condon.com/contactus.htm
06-16-2007

In Auto Owners Ins. Co. v. Perry, 730 N.W.2d 282 and Schossow v. First Nat. Ins. Co. of America, 730 N.W.2d 556, the Minnesota Court of Appeals offered two opinions on commonly disputed and factually-dependent issues related to automobile cases: a claimant’s qualification as a “dependant” and as a “resident.” Significant Other Is Not a Dependent Under the No-Fault Act

In Auto Owners Ins. Co. v. Perry, 730 N.W.2d 282, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held a person who is the live-in significant other of an insured and who does not meet the definition of “dependent” under the insured’s automobile insurance policy, may not receive Survivor’s Economic Loss Benefits from the insurer upon the death of the insured in an automobile accident.

In Perry, Appellant Chong Suk Perry made a claim to Auto Owners for Survivor’s Economic Loss Benefits after her significant other was killed in a December 2004 automobile accident. Auto Owners denied Perry’s request on the basis she did not meet the definition of a dependent within the meaning of the insurance policy. At the time of the insured’s death, Perry and the insured had lived together for seven years. The couple shared some expenses and a joint bank account and Perry was financially dependent on the insured due to her inadequate income. Perry sought
arbitration, which the district court stayed after Auto Owners filed a complaint in district court seeking a declaratory judgment to determine whether Perry qualified as a dependent. The district court granted Auto Owners’ motion for summary judgment, concluding Perry did not qualify as a dependent under the insurance policy, and the policy met the minimal coverage provisions required by the Minnesota No-Fault Act. Perry appealed.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals held the district court properly ruled Perry was not entitled to Survivor’s Economic Loss Benefits, because she did not meet the definition of dependent under the policy or the Minnesota No-Fault Act.The policy defined a dependent as either a surviving spouse or child of the deceased. As a significant other or live-in girlfriend, Perry did not qualify. Under the No-Fault Act, a dependent is a spouse of the deceased, or any child of a deceased parent. Minn. Stat. § 65B.44, subd. 6. Perry argued that the last sentence of the § 65B.44, subd. 6 definition, which states “[q]uestions of the existence and the extent of dependency shall be questions of fact, considering the support regularly received from the deceased” creates a broader class of dependents. The Minnesota Court of Appeals rejected the argument, concluding that absent a clear mandate in the language of an insurance policy, the No-Fault Act does not offer a broader classification of dependent. Accordingly, the district court was proper in granting summary judgment for Auto Owners.


Primary Practice Areas

Bankruptcy,Intellectual Property,Product Liability,Real Estate,Litigation,Alternative Dispute Resolution, Business and Commerciallaw, Construction Law, Education Law, Employer Liability, Employment Law, General Liability, Government Liability, Insurance Coverage, Life, Health & Disability, Liquor Liability, Marine Liability, Motor Vehicle, Premises Liability, Products Liability, Professional Liability, Property and Fire, Self Insurance, Subrogation, Toxic and Mass Tort, Transportation, Worker's Compensation.

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