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Berkley Reg'l Specialty Ins. Co. v. Dowling Spray Service

Supreme Court of South Dakota

February 11, 2015

BERKLEY REGIONAL SPECIALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
DOWLING SPRAY SERVICE; TROY DOWLING; SCOTT DOWLING; GREAT WEST CASUALTY COMPANY; KELSEY SEED & AG SERVICE LLC, Defendants, JAMES SEILER and KIMBERLY SEILER, Defendants and Appellees, FARM BUREAU MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant and Appellant. BERKLEY REGIONAL SPECIALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
DOWLING SPRAY SERVICE; TROY DOWLING; SCOTT DOWLING; GREAT WEST CASUALTY COMPANY; KELSEY SEED & AG SERVICE LLC, Defendants, JAMES SEILER and KIMBERLY SEILER, Defendants and Appellees, and FARM BUREAU MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant and Appellant

Considered on Briefs January 12, 2015.

As Amended April 27, 2015.

Page 258

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE THIRD JUDICIAL CIRCUIT. BEADLE COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA. THE HONORABLE JON R. ERICKSON Judge.

MATTHEW J. KINNEY Spearfish, South Dakota and JOHN W. BURKE of Thomas, Braun, Bernard & Burke, LLP Rapid City, South Dakota, Attorneys for defendants and appellees Seilers.

RONALD A. PARSONS, JR. of Johnson, Heidepriem & Abdallah, LLP Sioux Falls, South Dakota and MARK D. O'LEARY Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Attorneys for defendant and appellant Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company.

KONENKAMP, Retired Justice. GILBERTSON, Chief Justice, and ZINTER, SEVERSON, and KERN, Justices, concur. WILBUR, Justice, deeming herself disqualified, did not participate.

OPINION

Page 259

KONENKAMP, Retired Justice

[¶1] After an intersection collision between a crop sprayer and a motorcycle, the injured motorcyclists sought damages for their injuries through two insurance policies insuring the driver of the crop sprayer and through a third policy insuring the owner of the crop sprayer. Ruling on the latter policy, the circuit court held that Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company (Farm Bureau) had a duty to defend and indemnify the driver of the crop sprayer.

Background

[¶2] Scott and Tracy Dowling operate Dowling Brothers Partnership, a custom farming business. As part of its operation, the partnership owns and uses a John Deere 4720 self-propelled crop sprayer (Sprayer). On July 1, 2010, the partnership lent the Sprayer to Troy Dowling. Troy is Scott and Tracy's nephew. He is not a member of, a partner in, or an employee of Dowling Brothers Partnership. Troy operates Dowling Spray Service, a crop-spraying business and sole proprietorship. He borrowed the Sprayer because it was better suited for a particular spraying job he had in Beadle County, South Dakota. In return, Troy lent his crop sprayer to Dowling Brothers Partnership.

[¶3] On July 11, 2010, Troy was driving the Sprayer to one of his customer's fields. At the intersection of Highway 27 and 218th Street, south of Huron, the Sprayer collided with a motorcycle driven by James Seiler. Kimberly Seiler was a passenger. The Seilers were both seriously injured and sought damages for their injuries from multiple insurance policies. At the time of the collision, Troy had a commercial general liability policy through Berkley Regional Specialty Insurance Company and a commercial automobile insurance policy through Great West Casualty Company. Dowling Brothers Partnership had a multi-module insurance policy with Farm Bureau.

[¶4] All three insurance companies sought a declaratory judgment that they had no duty to defend or indemnify Troy. Ultimately, the circuit court ruled that Farm Bureau failed to show that the claims against Troy clearly fell outside the scope of coverage, and therefore, Farm Bureau had a duty to defend and indemnify Troy individually and Troy d/b/a Dowling Spray Service on the claims from the July 11, 2010 collision. Farm Bureau appeals.[*]

Analysis and Decision

[¶5] Farm Bureau contends the circuit court erred when it mixed and matched terms and provisions from different and unrelated sections of its policy to conclude that Farm Bureau had a duty to defend and indemnify Troy. The Sprayer is listed in the Declarations within Property/Liability coverage under the heading of " Blanket Farm/Ranch Personal Property," which, in Farm Bureau's view, does not implicate the policy's vehicle liability coverage under the Vehicle Section. In response, among other contentions, the Seilers deem immaterial the fact that the Sprayer is listed in the Declarations only within Property/Liability coverage under Blanket Farm/Ranch Personal ...


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