Minnesota Court of Appeals Cites McKee V. Laurion In Remanding Shelly Dixon, Respondent, V. Progressive Insurance Company, Appellant

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STATE OF MINNESOTA IN COURT OF APPEALS A12 – 2183 

Shelly Dixon, Respondent, vs. Progressive Preferred Insurance Company, Appellant. 

Filed June 17, 2013

Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

Peterson, Judge  Hennepin County District Court File No. 27 – CV – 12 – 9854

Jed Benjamin Iverson, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent)

Nicholas Leander Klehr, Hopkins, Minnesota (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge; Ross, Judge; and Klaphake, Judge.

In this appeal from a summary judgment enforcing a settlement agreement for  respondent’s no – fault claim, appellant insurer argues that the district court erred in determining that respondent’s acceptance of appellant’s settlement offer created a binding contract that could not be rescinded based on mutual or unilateral mistake.  We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

FACTS 

After she was injured in an automobile accident, respondent Shelly Dixon  submitted a claim for no – fault medical – expense benefits to her insurer, appellant Progressive Preferred Insurance Company. Respondent’s policy with appellant provided a maximum of $40,000 in no – fault benefits, $20,000 for medical – expense benefits and $20,000 for wage – loss benefits.

After paying part of respondent’s medical – expense claim, appellant required an independent medical examination (IME), and, following the IME, appellant stopped paying benefits to respondent.  Respondent petitioned for mandatory no – fault arbitration of her claim for unpaid medical – expense benefits.

The arbitrator awarded respondent her entire claim of $12,977.11. After appellant paid the arbitration award, the medical – expense benefits paid totaled $15,384.38, which left $4,615.62 remaining of the $20,000 policy limit.

In a March 31, 2011 letter to respondent’s attorney, a no – fault specialist  employed by appellant stated: I have recently completed a thorough review o f this file which included the accident facts, your client’s alleged injuries, treatment and medical history. Based on the current treatment status, I feel that this is an appropriate time to attempt to bring this file to conclusion. As a result of my evaluation of this file I am willing to offer $10000.00 in  exchange for a full and final release of the No – Fault claim.

By letter dated April 6, 2011, respondent’s attorney accepted the settlement offer on respondent’s behalf.

The next day, the no – fault specialist responded by letter stating that the “$10000” was a typographical error, she could not offer that amount because it exceeded the remaining benefits available to respondent, and she had intended to make a settlement offer of $1,000.

Respondent maintained that her April 6, 2011 acceptance created a binding contract not subject to rescission and brought this breach – of – contract lawsuit against appellant, seeking to  enforce the $10,000 settlement agreement. The parties filed cross – motions for summary judgment.

The district court concluded that , as a matter of law, respondent’s acceptance of appellant’s offer to settle respondent’s no – fault claim for $10,000 created a binding contract that could not be rescinded based on mutual or  unilateral mistake.   The district court denied appellant’s motion for summary judgment  and granted respondent’s motion for summary judgment. This appeal followed.

D E C I S I O N 

Summary judgment is appropriate when “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that  there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that either party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Minn. R. Civ. P. 56.03. On appeal from a summary judgment, this court reviews de novo whether any genuine issues of material fact exist and whether the district court erred in applying the law. The evidence is viewed “in the light most favorable to the party against whom summary judgment was granted.” McKee v. Laurion , 825 N.W.2d 725, 729 (Minn. 2013).

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