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Dahms v. Nodak Mutual Insurance Co.

Supreme Court of North Dakota

December 6, 2018

Scott A. Dahms & Shannon K. Dahms, Plaintiffs and Appellants
v.
Nodak Mutual Insurance Company and Mike Bruckbauer, Defendants and Appellees

          Appeal from the District Court of Cass County, East Central Judicial District, the Honorable Steven E. McCullough, Judge.

          Jonathan T. Garaas, Fargo, ND, for plaintiffs and appellants.

          Kraig A. Wilson, Grand Forks, ND, for defendant and appellee Nodak Mutual Insurance Company.

          Lisa M. L. Bachman (argued), and Jason T. Mohr (on brief), Minneapolis, MN, for defendant and appellee Mike Bruckbauer.

          VANDEWALLE, CHIEF JUSTICE.

         [¶ 1] Scott and Shannon Dahms appealed from a summary judgment dismissing their action against Nodak Mutual Insurance Company to obtain additional insurance payments, and against their insurance agent, Mike Bruckbauer, for damages resulting from his alleged violation of professional duties owed to them. Because the district court correctly interpreted the insurance policy as applied to the undisputed facts, and because the Dahms failed to raise a genuine issue of fact to support their professional negligence claim, we affirm.

         I

         [¶ 2] In 2008 the Dahms purchased a Nodak homeowners insurance policy through Bruckbauer, an independent insurance agent, and the policy was renewed annually. At the time, the Dahms' Fargo property consisted of a two-story residence and a detached two-story carriage house which was used as a garage. After purchasing the insurance policy, the Dahms constructed a deck between their dwelling house and the garage. The "fairly elaborate deck" was attached to the garage and lag-bolted to the house. The Dahms did not inform Bruckbauer about the addition of the deck. In April 2013, the garage was destroyed by fire and the estimated damage exceeded $87, 003.40.

         [¶ 3] The property coverage provision of the insurance policy provided:

A. Coverage A Dwelling
1. We cover:
a. The dwelling on the "residence premises" shown in the Declarations, including structures attached to the dwelling; and
b. Materials and supplies located on or next to the "residence premises" used to construct, alter or repair the dwelling or other structures on the ...

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