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Minnesota Property Insurance v. Slater

January 20, 2004

MINNESOTA PROPERTY INSURANCE, RESPONDENT,
v.
WILLIAM SLATER, ET AL., RESPONDENTS, CAROL PIERCE, APPELLANT.



Todd County District Court File No. C7-02-982

Considered and decided by Chief Judge Toussaint, Presiding Judge; Minge, Judge; and Wright, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. An operable vehicle undergoing maintenance and repair to meet the Minnesota Department of Transportation registration requirements for commercial hauling is not in dead storage and may satisfy the homeowners insurance policy exclusion of covering bodily injury arising out of maintenance or use of a motor vehicle.

2. Vehicle repair and maintenance work that is necessary to facilitate the commencement of a business's primary activity satisfies the business-pursuits exclusion to the homeowners insurance policy.

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

Affirmed

OPINION

In this appeal from summary judgment in favor of respondent Minnesota Property Insurance, appellant Carol Pierce argues that the district court improperly determined that two insurance policy exclusions applied. Because the district court did not err in its interpretation of the terms of the insurance policy, we affirm.

FACTS

William Slater purchased a 1985 International cabover truck on a rent-to-own basis from Larry Hanson. The truck was operable but in need of general repair to bring it into compliance with Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) regulations for commercial use of a motor vehicle. Slater began making repairs on the truck at his home. Slater raised the cab of the truck in order to complete the repairs. Once the repair work was completed, Slater intended to use the truck to pull a belly dump trailer*fn1 in his hauling business.

During a visit to Slater's home, appellant Carol Pierce and her husband were looking at the truck when the cab fell on Pierce and injured her. Testimony differs as to the actual reason the truck fell. By affidavit testimony, Pierce stated that she was not touching the vehicle at the time it fell. Slater's deposition testimony indicates that the truck was off center and Pierce was helping to push the cab back to the center position. Both Slater and Pierce agree that Pierce's injuries were caused by the cab when it fell.

Pierce brought a personal injury lawsuit against Slater, who sought coverage for the damages arising from the accident under his homeowners policy with respondent Minnesota Property Insurance. Minnesota Property Insurance declined coverage, claiming that the accident was excluded under the policy. Minnesota Property Insurance commenced a declaratory judgment action seeking a ruling that Pierce's injuries were not covered by the insurance policy. Pierce and Minnesota Property Insurance brought cross-motions for summary judgment. The district court entered judgment in favor of Minnesota Property Insurance, concluding that two policy exclusions applied and precluded coverage. This appeal followed.

ISSUES

I. Did the district court err in concluding that the "maintenance or use" of a motor vehicle exclusion of the homeowners ...


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