Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Geidel v. De Smet Farm Mutual Insurance Company of South Dakota

Supreme Court of South Dakota

April 10, 2019

DELRAY GEIDEL, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
DE SMET FARM MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF SOUTH DAKOTA, Defendant and Appellee.

          CONSIDERED ON BRIEFS ON JANUARY 7, 2019

          APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIRST JUDICIAL CIRCUIT DOUGLAS COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA THE HONORABLE BRUCE J. ANDERSON Judge

          ERIC R. KERKVLIET DANA VAN BEEK PALMER ROSS M. WRIGHT of Lynn, Jackson, Shultz, & Lebrun, P.C. Sioux Falls, South Dakota Attorneys for plaintiff and appellant.

          JESSICA L. LARSON of Beardsley, Jensen & Lee, Prof. LLC Rapid City, South Dakota Attorneys for defendant and appellee.

          SEVERSON, RETIRED JUSTICE.

         [¶1.] Delray Geidel was insured under a farm liability policy issued by De Smet Farm Mutual Insurance Company. He sold a portion of his farm property, and the purchaser constructed a hog confinement facility on that property. Geidel's neighbors brought suit against him and the owner of the hog facility, alleging nuisance, trespass, and negligence. De Smet refused to defend Geidel against the neighbors' lawsuit. Geidel retained counsel and successfully defended the lawsuit. He then filed a breach of contract action against De Smet, alleging De Smet had a duty to defend. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, and the circuit court granted De Smet summary judgment. Geidel appeals. We affirm.

         Background

         [¶2.] On April 16, 2013, Geidel conveyed a portion of his real property to Cedar Creek Feeders, LLC for the construction of a hog confinement facility. As part of the sale, Geidel retained a right of first refusal to repurchase the property. He also retained the right to acquire manure from the property. Geidel was aware Cedar Creek would construct the hog facility within one-quarter of a mile of property owned by Herman and Jeanette Fink and other property owned by Karl and Alene Fink (collectively "Finks"). The Finks claimed they had informed Geidel of their objection to the location of the facility prior to construction.

         [¶3.] Cedar Creek finished constructing the hog facility in July 2013 and began operations. On April 30, 2014, the Finks brought suit against Cedar Creek and Geidel. They alleged claims for nuisance, trespass, and negligence based on the construction and operation of the hog confinement facility. They sought injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages.

         [¶4.] In May 2014, Geidel submitted a claim to De Smet Farm Mutual Insurance Company under his farm liability policy requesting that De Smet defend him against the Finks' lawsuit. A property claims manager contacted Geidel, and after reviewing the claim, De Smet declined to defend. In a letter sent to Geidel, De Smet explained that the Finks' complaint did not allege bodily injury, property damage, or an occurrence within the provisions of the insurance policy. The letter further indicated De Smet determined that "none of the claims being made come within the coverage[, ]" and even if coverage existed, two policy exclusions applied.

         [¶5.] After receiving De Smet's letter, Geidel retained his own counsel and defended the Finks' lawsuit. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Cedar Creek and Geidel on all claims. Thereafter, Geidel brought suit against De Smet, alleging breach of contract in failing to defend him against the Finks' lawsuit. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. After a hearing, the circuit court granted De Smet summary judgment and denied Geidel summary judgment. The court concluded De Smet had no duty to defend Geidel. It determined the allegations within the Finks' complaint fell outside Geidel's policy coverage. Alternatively, it held that if coverage arguably existed, two policy exclusions precluded coverage.

         [¶6.] Geidel appeals, asserting the circuit court erred when it granted De Smet summary judgment.

         Standard of Review

         [¶7.] We review a circuit court's decision on a motion for summary judgment under the de novo standard of review. N. Star Mut. Ins. v. Korzan, 2015 S.D. 97, ¶ 12, 873 N.W.2d 57, 61. "Summary judgment is appropriate 'if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'" Id. (quoting SDCL 15-6-56(c)).

         Analysis

         [¶8.] We recently explained an insurer's duty to defend in Lowery Construction & Concrete, LLC v. Owners Insurance Company, 2017 S.D. 53, 901 N.W.2d 481. Importantly, "[a]n insurer's duty to defend is distinct from-and broader than-its duty to indemnify." Id. ¶ 8. One distinguishing feature is the fact "[t]he duty to defend arises prior to the completion of litigation[.]" Id. (quoting 14 Steven Plitt et al., Couch on Insurance ยง 200:3 (3d ed.)). "[T]herefore insurers are required ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.