Minnesota Court Of Appeals Cites McKee V. Laurion In Affirming Grill V. North Star Mutual Insurance Company

GRILL v. NORTH STAR MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY

No. A13-1012.

Connie Grill, Appellant, v. North Star Mutual Insurance Company, Respondent.

Court of Appeals of Minnesota.

January 27, 2014.

Considered and decided by Connolly, Presiding Judge; Schellhas, Judge; and Klaphake, Judge.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION 

SCHELLHAS, Judge.

Appellant challenges the summary judgment granted to respondent. We affirm. 

FACTS

Appellant Connie Grill’s home was insured by respondent North Star Mutual Insurance Company, effective August 31, 2010, to August 31, 2011, with coverage up to $155,500 and a $500 deductible. In February 2011, Grill submitted an insurance claim for damage resulting from an ice dam. A North Star insurance adjustor assessed the damage, and North Star issued Grill a check in March in the amount of $6,713.60. Grill began repairs and decided that they should include demolition so that she could see the full extent of the damage. She provided North Star with receipts for supplies and labor and, in April, a claims adjustor “reinspected the loss and revised the estimate,” noting that Grill’s demolition of her home “was excessive.” North Star issued Grill a second check in April in the amount of $5,418.19.

In May, the International Falls building inspector inspected Grill’s home at her request. The inspector issued a report, noting that the home failed the inspection and providing the following “[c]omments”: 1. Repair water damaged walls, floors,and  ceilings due to ice damming of roof. 2. Re-install adequate insulation in walls and ceilings. 3. Ventilate attic space correctly. 4. Re-wire entire home. 5. Re-plumb entire home. 6. Replace or repair foundation.

The inspector also stated in the report that the “old home has been completely gutted, showing the need for the above repairs and an analysis of the entire structure before any permits are issued.”

Grill sought an estimate from Up North Builders for the necessary repairs. In September, Up North Builders opined that “the cost and risk to perform work on the existing building [was] not safe, practical, or economically feasible” and estimated a cost of $162,000 to “replace the house with a new structure,” which exceeded the insurance-policy limit of $155,500.

In October, based on his inspections, the building inspector notified Grill that “numerous violations of the City of International Falls Code of Ordinances and the Minnesota State Building Code” existed and asked Grill to “consider remedying the concern by utilizing the City of International Falls demolition program for the removal of hazardous or dilapidated residential buildings,” if she determined that she would not make the necessary repairs to correct the noted building-code violations. Grill then informed North Star that her home was a “total loss” because it violated building code and she was “unable to find a licensed contractor that would consider meeting the requirements.” North Star denied Grill’s total-loss claim. Grill then submitted a demolition application to the City of International Falls, and the city demolished her home in December.

Grill sued North Star for denial of her total-loss claim, and the district court granted summary judgment to North Star and denied Grill’s claim for living expenses. This appeal follows.

DECISION

Grill argues that she suffered a total loss within the meaning of her North Star insurance policy and that the district court erred by granting summary judgment to North Star because, when read together with Minn. Stat. §§ 65A.08, 65A.10 (2012) and case law, her insurance policy covers her total loss. We disagree.

On appeal from summary judgment, an appellate court’s “task is to determine whether genuine issues of material fact exist, and whether the district court correctly applied the law.” Eng’g & Constr. Innovations, Inc. v. L.H. Bolduc Co., 825 N.W.2d 695, 704 (Minn. 2013) (quotation omitted). A district court properly grants summary judgment “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits . . . 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. Appellate courts conduct a de novo review of the district court’s summary-judgment decision and “view the evidence 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).

In granting summary judgment to North Star, the district court concluded as follows:

There is no genuine issue of material fact as to whether or not prior to the insure[d] demolishing her home a determination of Total Loss was made by a city official, a representative of the insurer, a real estate appraiser, a court of law or any person qualified to make such a legal determination. It was not.

. . .

SOURCE

David McKee MD V. Dennis K. Laurion

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