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Munoz v. Kihlgren

May 20, 2003

JUAN ANTONIO LOJANO MUNOZ, APPELLANT,
v.
AUGUST LEROY KIHLGREN, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



Reversed and remanded Wright, Judge Hennepin County District Court File No. PI0111656

Considered and decided by Shumaker , Presiding Judge, Randall , Judge, and Wright , Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

Under the Minnesota No-Fault Automobile Insurance Act, an uninsured motorist may sue an insured tortfeasor for economic-loss damages.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wright, Judge

OPINION

After an automobile collision, appellant Juan Munoz, an uninsured driver, sought to recover economic-loss damages from respondents, who were insured. The district court granted respondents' motion for dismissal and dismissed the case with prejudice. Munoz appeals, contending that, under the Minnesota No-Fault Automobile Insurance Act, an uninsured driver may recover economic-loss damages from an insured tortfeasor. We reverse and remand.

FACTS

Appellant Juan Munoz, the owner and driver of his vehicle, was involved in a collision with August Kihlgren, who was driving a vehicle owned by Schaefer Hardwood Floors. The parties do not dispute Kihlgren's liability.

Munoz's vehicle was not insured on the day of the accident; the vehicle driven by Kihlgren was insured. Munoz sued Kihlgren and Schaefer Hardwood Floors (respondents collectively) for his injuries, and the parties settled non-economic- damage claims. The parties also stipulated to the amount of Munoz's medical bills, but disputed whether Munoz could recover such economic damages from respondents. Respondents moved to dismiss the case. The district court granted respondents' motion, concluding that under two cases interpreting the Minnesota No-Fault Automobile Insurance Act, Banks v. Grant, 549 N.W.2d 89 (Minn. 1996), and Ramsamooj v. Olson, 574 N.W.2d 751 (Minn. App. 1998), review denied (Minn. June 17, 1998), Munoz could not maintain a negligence action seeking economic-loss damages against respondents. Munoz now appeals.

ISSUE

May an uninsured motorist recover economic-loss damages from an insured tortfeasor?

ANALYSIS

In reviewing cases that were dismissed for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted, the only question before the reviewing court is whether the complaint sets forth a legally sufficient claim for relief. Barton v. Moore, 558 N.W.2d 746, 749 (Minn. 1997).

Munoz argues that the district court erred when it ruled that, as an uninsured plaintiff, he is precluded from maintaining a negligence action against an insured tortfeasor for economic-loss damages. Under the Minnesota No-Fault Automobile Insurance Act (the Act), every owner of a motor vehicle must have insurance that provides for basic economic-loss benefits. Minn. Stat. § 65B.48, subd. 1 (2002). Economic loss includes benefits for medical expenses, disability, and income loss. Minn. Stat. § 65B.44 (2002); Loven v. City of Minneapolis, 639 N.W.2d 869, 870-71 (Minn. 2002). Economic loss may be ...


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