Tim O’Connor and Elizabeth Brotten Win Motion for Summary Judgment for Insurance Client in Declaratory Judgment

April 8, 2016

An insurance company client represented by Tim O’Connor and Elizabeth Brotten was recently dismissed via summary judgment in a declaratory judgment action in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.  Lind Jensen’s client asserted that the homeowners policy it issued did not provide coverage for personal injuries arising out of its insured’s operation of a John Deer Gator utility vehicle owned by a vineyard.  The accident at issue happened on the vineyard’s property. 

 The court agreed that the motorized land vehicle exclusion in the policy excluded coverage.  At issue was whether a “recreational use” exception to the motorized land vehicle exclusion applied and provided coverage for the alleged personal injuries.   The court agreed with the position advanced by Lind Jensen’s client that “recreation use” exception did not apply because the utility vehicle at issue was not “principally designed for recreational use.”  To reach this conclusion, the Court relied heavily on language from the Gator’s operator’s manual and promotional materials, the general use of the Gator, testimony from witnesses about their use of the Gator, and warning labels on the Gator.  The Court ultimately concluded that Lind Jensen’s client had no obligation to provide coverage, defense, or indemnity to its insured because the Gator did not fall within the plain language of the exception to the motorized land vehicle exclusion.