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State Farm v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.

May 04, 2004

STATE FARM, AS INSURER OF ANDREW HEBERLING, ET AL., RESPONDENT,
v.
LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE CO., AS INSURER OF TILLER CORPORATION, D/B/A BARTON SAND AND GRAVEL CO., APPELLANT.



Ramsey County District Court File No. C5032308

Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Schumacher, Judge; and Wright, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

A claim for indemnity under Minn. Stat. § 65B.53, subd. 1 (2002) when the no-fault insured dies, is subject to the six-year statute of limitations under Minn. Stat. § 541.05, subd. 1(2) (2002).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert H. Schumacher, Judge

Affirmed

OPINION

Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, as insurer of Tiller Corporation, d/b/a Barton Sand and Gravel Co., appeals from a judgment partially vacating the arbitrator's award and granting summary judgment to respondent State Farm, as insurer of Andrew Heberling, Michael Heberling, and Evan McCartney-Melstad. Liberty Mutual argues the district court improperly vacated the arbitrator's award regarding the no-fault benefits paid for Andrew Heberling's injuries because the claim arises under the Minnesota Wrongful Death Act, Minn. Stat. §§ 573.01-.02 (2002), and thus barred by a three-year statute of limitations. State Farm has also filed a notice of review claiming the district court erroneously denied its motion for an award of interest pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 65B.54, subd. 2 (2002). We affirm.

FACTS

This case arises from an accident in April 1997 between a tractor-trailer and a school bus. Michael Heberling, Andrew Heberling, and Evan McCartney-Melstad were passengers on the school bus when it was struck and all were injured. State Farm was the no-fault insurer for all three children. Andrew Heberling died as a result of his injuries. State Farm paid no-fault medical expense in the amount of $59,919 for Andrew Heberling and $6,000 for funeral expenses, as well as no-fault benefits for the other children. Liberty Mutual provided residual liability insurance for Tiller Corporation, the owner of the tractor-trailer that struck the bus.

State Farm filed for arbitration under Minn. Stat. § 65B.53 (2002), seeking indemnity from Liberty Mutual on all expenses it paid to Andrew Heberling and the other children. The arbitrator found State Farm's claim of indemnity for expenses paid on behalf of Andrew Heberling could not stand because the"wrongful death statute of limitations ha[d] run" and awarded State Farm the expenses it paid on behalf of the other children.

State Farm sought district court review of the arbitrator's award. It requested the court vacate the portion of the arbitrator's award that found Andrew Heberling's claim was time barred. The district court vacated the requested portion of the arbitrator's award and entered judgment against Liberty Mutual in the amount of $59,327 with respect to Andrew Heberling and in amounts claimed with respect to the other two children.

Liberty Mutual filed a notice of appeal. State Farm filed a notice of review with this court seeking review of the district court's judgment, which it claims denied its motion for an award of interest.

ISSUES

1. Is State Farm's claim for indemnity under Minn. Stat. ยง 65B.53, where its insured died as a result of injuries sustained in the accident, a claim under the Wrongful Death Act, ...


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