This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

C2-00-960

 

 

Joseph Dixon,

Appellant,

 

vs.

 

Kennie Hardimon, III,

Respondent,

Progressive Insurance Company,

Respondent.

 

 

Filed January 9, 2001

Affirmed

Anderson, Judge

 

Hennepin County District Court

File No. 00273

 

Joseph Dixon, 1710 Fremont Avenue, Minneapolis, MN  55411 (pro se appellant)

 

Brian A. Wood and Caroline E. Ostrom, Rider, Bennett, Egan & Arundel, LLP, 333 South Seventh Street, 2000 Lincoln Centre, Minneapolis, MN  55402 (for respondent, Progressive Insurance Company)

 

Scott A. Brehm, 3300 Parkdale Plaza West, 1660 South Highway 100, Minneapolis, MN  55416 (for respondent, Kennie Hardimon III)

 

            Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Harten, Judge, and Anderson, Judge.

 

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

ANDERSON, Judge

            Appellant, who brought this action against respondent Hardimon while an identical suit was pending in district court, argues entitlement to damages.  Adding respondent’s insurance company as a second defendant, appellant alleges violations of the Unfair Claims Practices Act, the Insurance Adjuster’s Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.  Because appellant has failed to comply with the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure in bringing this duplicative action against Hardimon and, because Minnesota law prohibits direct actions against insurers without first obtaining a judgment against the insured, and because RICO relief is unavailable for alleged violations of Minnesota law, we affirm.

FACTS

 

Appellant Joseph Dixon was injured in an automobile accident on September 1, 1997.  Respondent Kennie Hardimon failed to stop at a red light and his vehicle rear-ended another vehicle, which in turn rear-ended appellant’s vehicle.  Appellant received medical treatment for back, neck, and knee injuries. 

In August 1999, appellant retained counsel and commenced suit against respondent Hardimon for damages caused by the accident. Although some settlement discussions occurred, appellant’s attorney withdrew from further representation due to an inability to agree on a reasonable value of appellant’s claim.  That action is pending.

            On January 4, 2000, appellant, proceeding pro se, filed a second complaint against Hardimon, which named Progressive as a second defendant.  Appellant’s complaint requested damages resulting from the September 1, 1997 auto accident and sought damages from Progressive for racial discrimination and alleged violations of the Unfair Claims Practices Act,[1] the Insurance Adjuster’s Act,[2] and a racketeering violation under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.[3]   

            On May 23, 2000 the district court granted respondent’s motion to dismiss and denied appellant’s motion for summary judgment.  As the basis for dismissal, the district court concluded that appellant’s claim against Hardimon was duplicative.  With respect to Progressive, the court concluded that (1) appellant did not have a cause of action as a private citizen under the Unfair Claims Practices Act or the Insurance Adjusters Act; (2) appellant could not assert a RICO action for violations of Minnesota law; and (3) the allegations of racial discrimination were unsupported.

D E C I S I O N

I.

Appellant argues that the district court erred in granting respondents’ motions to dismiss.  On appeal from an order granting a motion to dismiss pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(e) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the appellate court reviews de novo the claim’s legal sufficiency.  Leonard v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 605 N.W.2d 425, 428 (Minn. App. 2000).  In reviewing cases that were dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the only question before the reviewing court is whether the complaint sets forth a legally sufficient claim for relief.  Barton v. Moore, 558 N.W.2d 746, 749 (Minn. 1997).  The facts set forth in the complaint must be accepted as true, and the plaintiff is entitled to have the benefit of all reasonable inferences favoring it.  Pullar v. Independent Sch. Dist., 582 N.W.2d 273, 275-76 (Minn. App. 1998).

A.         Dismissal of the Claim Against Respondent Hardimon

The district court dismissed the lawsuit against Hardimon as “duplicative” because it involved the same personal injury claims set out in the suit filed in August 1999, which is still pending.

Minnesota Rule of Civil Procedure 41.02 allows a district court, upon motion of a party, to dismiss an action or claim for failure to comply with the rules of civil procedure or any order of the court.  Rule 41.02(1) is designed to let the district court manage its docket and eliminate delays and obstructionist tactics by use of the sanction of dismissal.  Hellersted v. MacGibbon, 489 N.W.2d 247, 249 (Minn. App. 1992).  Minnesota Rule of Civil Procedure 12.06, which allows the district court to strike redundant matters from any pleading, used in conjunction with Minnesota Rule of Civil Procedure 41.02, allows a district court to dismiss duplicative claims.  This lawsuit against Hardimon mirrors the allegations made in the first suit which is pending in Hennepin County District Court.  We conclude the district court did not err by dismissing this lawsuit as duplicative.  Dixon can pursue his original action. 

B.         Dismissal of the Claim Against Progressive

Appellant argues Progressive violated the Insurance Adjuster’s Act, the Unfair Claims Practices Act, and the RICO statutes.

Minnesota law prohibits direct actions against insurers by injured third parties.  Anderson v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 414 N.W.2d 575, 576 (Minn. App. 1987).  An injured party must first obtain a judgment against the insured.  Id.  Because appellant’s relationship to Progressive is that of an injured third party, the district court correctly dismissed Dixon’s purported claim under the Insurance Adjuster’s Act. 

There is no private cause of action against an insurer for a violation of the Unfair Claims Practices Act in Minnesota.  See Morris v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co., 386 N.W.2d 233, 238 (Minn. 1986) (reasoning that without clear legislative intent to change the common law, the Unfair Claims Practice Act does not allow a private cause of action).  Accordingly, the district court did not err in dismissing appellant’s Unfair Claims Practices Act claim.

Appellant next argues that Progressive violated federal racketeering laws promulgated under the RICO statutes.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently addressed this issue and concluded that the McCarran-Ferguson Act[4] bars a litigant from seeking relief under RICO for alleged violations of Minnesota’s insurance laws.  Doe v. Norwest Bank Minnesota, N.A., 107 F.3d 1297, 1305 (8th Cir. 1997).  Therefore, the district court properly dismissed Dixon’s racketeering claim.

II.

 

Appellant next argues that the district court erred in denying his motion for summary judgment.  On an appeal from summary judgment, we ask whether there are genuine issues of material fact and whether the district courts erred in applying the law.  State by Cooper v. French, 460 N.W. 2d 2, 4 (Minn. 1990).

Appellant’s summary judgment motion reasserts the same claims against respondents Hardimon and Progressive as discussed above.  Because the district court properly dismissed appellant’s suit, the district court properly denied appellant’s summary judgment motion on these claims. 

Appellant’s summary judgment motion also alleged that Progressive refused to settle his first lawsuit due to his race.  This allegation was not stated in appellant’s complaint.  For purposes of this opinion, we assume, but do not concede, both that (1) appellant’s racial-discrimination claim is not fatally defective because it was not plead, and (2) the district court granted summary judgment on this claim rather than dismissing it. 

A district court may issue summary judgment in favor of a non-moving party when reviewing a summary judgment motion.  Modern Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc. v. Loop Belden Porter, 493 N.W.2d 296, 299 (Minn. App. 1992).  A party is not entitled to relief for discrimination absent prima facie proof of unequal treatment for an impermissible reason.  Lamb v. Village of Bagley, 310 N.W.2d 508, 510 (Minn. 1981).  This prima facie case is established upon a showing of unequal treatment.  Id.  Appellant failed to provide any evidence showing respondent Progressive would not settle his claim because of his race, and the record does not reveal any facts, including circumstantial evidence, that suggest racial-discrimination.  Appellant’s attorney withdrew from the case because of a “substantial inability to agree about the reasonable value of [appellant’s] claim,” which supports Progressive’s claim that the settlement discussions failed for reasons other than race.  Summary judgment was appropriately granted on appellant’s racial-discrimination claim. 

            Affirmed.



[1] Minn. Stat. § 72B (2000).

[2] Minn. Stat. § 72A (2000).

[3] 18 U.S.C. §1961-1968 (1994).

[4] 15 U.S.C. § 1012(b) (1982).