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Schroeder v. Western National Mutual Ins. Co.

Supreme Court of Minnesota

June 17, 2015

Carmen Schroeder, Respondent,
v.
Western National Mutual Insurance Co., Appellant

Court of Appeals.

Affirmed.

SYLLABUS

The Minnesota No-Fault Automobile Insurance Act, Minn. Stat. § 65B.44, subd. 5 (2014), allows an injured person who provides care and maintenance of a home as a full-time responsibility to recover the reasonable value of care and maintenance services, regardless of whether the services were actually replaced

William J. Schmitz, Schmitz Law Offices, Woodbury, Minnesota, for respondent.

Katherine A. McBride, Meagher & Geer, P.L.L.P., Minneapolis, Minnesota, for appellant.

Michael M. Skram, Dale O. Thornsjo, Lance D. Meyer, O'Meara, Leer, Wagner & Kohl, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota, for amici curiae The Insurance Federation of Minnesota, and The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

OPINION

ANDERSON, Justice.

The question presented by this case is whether a person injured in an automobile

Page 67

accident may recover the reasonable value of household services under Minn. Stat. § 65B.44, subd. 5 (2014), if those services were not replaced or performed during the period of disability. We conclude that an injured person who has primary responsibility for care and maintenance of the household need not replace household services as a condition to recovering the reasonable value of such services. We therefore affirm.

Respondent Carmen Schroeder suffered a significant spinal injury in a motor vehicle accident on May 10, 2012. She was totally disabled until October 3, 2012. During her period of disability, Schroeder owned and maintained her own home but was unable to perform most household duties, such as vacuuming, laundry, and yard work. Schroeder had no close family living nearby to help with household duties, she did not purchase replacement home care services, and nobody volunteered to perform the services for her.

On July 17, 2012, Schroeder filed a claim for $3,400 in replacement service loss benefits with her no-fault insurance provider, appellant Western National Mutual Insurance Co.[1] She stated that, because she was primarily responsible for household care and maintenance and was unable to perform household duties until her disability ended, she was entitled to the " reasonable value" of the home care and maintenance services she was unable to perform. See Minn. Stat. § 65B.44, subd. 5. Western National refused to pay Schroeder's claim. Although Western National conceded that Schroeder need not pay for replacement services to receive benefits, Western National would not reimburse Schroeder for household services that were not replaced in some way.

The parties proceeded to arbitration, and the arbitrator awarded Schroeder's entire claim of $3,400, plus interest and costs. The district court denied Western National's motion to vacate the arbitration award, concluding that although Minn. Stat. § 65B.44, subd. 5, is unclear as to whether household services must be replaced when expenses are not incurred, replacement of services is not required under Rindahl v. National Farmers Union Insurance Cos., 373 N.W.2d 294 (Minn. 1985). The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that Minn. Stat. ยง 65B.44, subd. 5, does not require replacement of ...


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