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Dixon v. Progressive Preferred Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

June 17, 2013

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

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

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. [*]

PETERSON, 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determining that respondent's acceptance of appellant's settlement offer created a binding contract that could not be rescinded based on mutual or unilateral mistake.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 of 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 ...


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