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National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA v. Donaldson Company, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

May 16, 2018

NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY OF PITTSBURGH, PA, and AMERICAN HOME ASSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiffs,
v.
DONALDSON COMPANY, INC., and FEDERAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants.

          Cody S. Moon, Kelly L. Stoltz, and Matthew J. Fink, NICOLAIDES FINK THORPE MICHAELIDES SULLIVAN LLP, and Patrick D. Reilly, ERSTAD & RIEMER, PA, for plaintiffs.

          David J.F. Gross, Matthew B. Kilby, and Rikke A. Dierssen-Morice, FAEGRE BAKER DANIELS LLP, and Gary J. Haugen, Leora Itman, and Margaret S. Brownell, MASLON LLP, for defendant Donaldson Company, Inc.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION TO AMEND JUDGMENT TO ADD ATTORNEY FEES AND EXPENSES

          JOHN R. TUNHEIM CHIEF JUDGE

         This case involves a 7-year-old insurance dispute stemming from a 17-year-old product liability action in which Plaintiff National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA (“National Union”), Plaintiff American Home Assurance Company (“American Home”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs”), and Defendant Federal Insurance Company (“Federal”) paid a $6 million settlement on behalf of Defendant Donaldson Company, Inc. (“Donaldson”) in the underlying product-liability action. After the settlement, Plaintiffs brought this action against Donaldson to recuperate deductibles that Donaldson refused to pay. National was awarded one of the deductibles that it sought, and American recovered nothing. Donaldson now brings a Motion to Alter/Amend/Correct Judgment under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 52(b) and 54(d)(2) to add attorney fees and expenses in the amount of $1, 531, 562.98. Donaldson argues that it is entitled to such fees and expenses under a “Supplementary Payments” provision contained in its policies with Plaintiffs.

         Because the insurance policy's plain language does not provide for attorney fees in the present action and because Minnesota law does not provide for an exception in this case, the Court will deny Donaldson's motion.

         BACKGROUND

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         A. The Underlying Litigation

         The factual background of the underlying claim and state court litigation was thoroughly recounted in the Court's most recent order. Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA v. Donaldson Co., No. 10-4948, 2017 WL 6210915 (D. Minn. Dec. 6, 2017). In sum, Plaintiffs and Federal each contributed toward the Burroughs Settlement, a settlement of a cross-claim against Donaldson in a product liability action in state court. Id. at *1-2. After the settlement, and after Donaldson refused to pay additional deductibles requested by Plaintiffs, Plaintiffs brought this declaratory judgment action. Id. at *2. National Union prevailed against Donaldson, and the Court awarded National Union one $500, 000 unpaid deductible. Id. at *7. Final judgment was entered on December 7, 2017, and included the following relevant findings:

1. The damages paid for in the Burroughs settlement were caused by two occurrences.
2. Two $500, 000 per-occurrence deductibles apply to the Burroughs settlement. Because Donaldson previously paid one $500, 000 per-occurrence deductible, Donaldson shall reimburse National Union an additional $500, 000 per-occurrence deductible.
3. The Burroughs settlement is allocable to the 1999-2000 National Union Policy.

(J., Dec. 7, 2017, Docket No. 497.)

         B. The “Supplementary Payments” Provisions

         The policies under which Plaintiffs brought this action against Donaldson and the policy to which the settlement was allocated contain a “Supplementary Payments” provision. Donaldson cites two versions of the provision, each of which has slightly different language. The first ...


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