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Supreme Court Defense Ruling

On February 1, 2013, the Iowa Supreme Court entered its opinion in the case of Boelman v. Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Co. (No. 11-0570).  Boelman was a farmer whose operations included contract-feeding nursery hogs for others.  Boelman had obtained insurance which was reinsured by Grinnell Mutual.  Several of the hogs involved in the operation suffocated when Boelman was cleaning out the manure bins, and Boelman looked to be reimbursed through the insurance policy.  Insurance coverage was denied based upon the policy’s exclusion language.  Boelman initiated litigation, and both parties filed Motions for Summary Judgment for determination of whether the loss was covered under the contract based upon the undisputed facts.  Both the District Court and Court of Appeals found for Boelman, but the Supreme Court reversed these decisions, finding in favor of Grinnell Mutual.  The Supreme Court determined that the custom farming endorsement to the contract did not create ambiguity in the contract and there was no evidence to support Boelman’s claim of reasonable expectations, and based upon this, Boelman’s loss was specifically excluded by the contract language.  Patterson Law Firm attorney Douglas A. Haag represented Grinnell Mutual throughout the litigation and appeals.

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