This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).






Jonathan M. Rose,


Prudential Property and Casualty
Insurance Company,


Filed November 23, 2004


Peterson, Judge


Hennepin County District Court

AC 03-015251


Jonathan M. Rose, 16 Cutler Street, St. Paul, MN  55119-4638 (pro se appellant)


Ryan A. Johannsen, Terhaar, Archibald, Pfefferle & Griebel, LLP, Butler Square Building, 100 North Sixth Street, Suite 600A, Minneapolis, MN  55403 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Wright, Presiding Judge; Peterson, Judge; and Stoneburner, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


In this pro se appeal, appellant challenges the district court’s grant of summary judgment to his former insurer.  He raises various issues connected to his claim for damage to carpets in his home that resulted in the cancellation of his policy.  The district court granted summary judgment based on its conclusions that appellant failed to comply with the limitations period contained in the policy and that all of the causes of action asserted by appellant were related to and were either known or should have been known at the time of loss.  We affirm.


            Appellant Jonathan Rose’s residence was insured under a policy issued by respondent Prudential Property and Casualty Insurance Company.  The parties dispute whether the policy required an action to be started within one or two years after the date of loss.  The policy submitted by Prudential contained a one-year limitations period, but a document submitted by Rose contained a two-year limitations period.

            In September 2000, Rose contacted Prudential and reported a claim for stain damage to carpets in his residence.  On October 5, 2000, William Hill, a senior field property caseworker for Prudential, inspected the carpeting in Rose’s living room and den and on the stairs and in the hallway.  Hill saw several colored stains on the carpets, possibly from tar, soda pop, Kool-aid, medications, or food, and concluded that the stains could not occur in separate rooms with different kinds of stains all at the exact same time.  With Rose’s permission, Hill cut samples from the stained carpets.  The samples were taken to insure that Prudential provided Rose with a replacement carpet of like kind and quality.

Based on Hill’s conclusion, Prudential treated the stain damage as three separate occurrences.  In October 2000, Prudential issued three separate checks to Rose to cover the damage.  Rose declined to accept the checks and, on June 26, 2003,[1] filed a statement of claim against Prudential in the conciliation court.  Rose alleged that Hill maliciously and willfully changed his claim from one claim to three claims, knowing that this would cause his policy to be cancelled.  Rose sought damages in the amount of $6,257 for the installation of new carpet and for higher premiums incurred due to Prudential’s cancellation of his coverage.

Rose removed the conciliation court cause to the district court for trial de novo.  Rose alleged that the stains occurred during a party at his home on August 14, 2000, and that, in preparation for the party, the carpets were cleaned and vacuumed and did not have stains on them.  Rose sought replacement of his carpeting on the ground that Hill obtained permission to cut samples with the understanding that the carpet damage comprised a single claim.  Rose also sought damages for the increased insurance premiums resulting from Prudential’s cancellation of his policy.

            The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment.  The district court determined that the policy in effect at the time of the carpet damage contained a one-year limitations period and granted summary judgment for Prudential based on Rose’s failure to comply with that limitations period.  The district court explained that all of Rose’s claims, including property damage, replacement, increased premiums, and false reporting, were related to the claimed loss under the policy and were or should have been known at the time of loss.


            On appeal from summary judgment, appellate courts

review whether there are any genuine issues of material fact and whether the district court erred in its application of the law.  We view the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against whom summary judgment was granted.  We review de novo whether a genuine issue of material fact exists.  We also review de novo whether the district court erred in its application of the law.


STAR Centers, Inc. v. Faegre & Benson, L.L.P., 644 N.W.2d 72, 76-77 (Minn. 2002) (citations omitted).

            Rose argues that the limitations period in effect at the time of loss was two years, not one year.  The policy excerpts submitted by Rose set forth a two-year limitations period.  But the district court determined that Exhibit C, which sets forth the two-year limitations period and was appended to Rose’s motion papers, was a policy amendment received by Rose in December 2000 that was not to become effective until 2001.  The list identifying the exhibits appended to Rose’s motion papers includes an entry for “EXHIBIT C:  Amendments to homeowners policy in December 2000.”  That is the only exhibit that contains policy excerpts, and it is apparent that the policy excerpts describe amendments to an existing policy because they are preceded by statements such as, “Item 1 is amended to read as follows,” or “Item 8 is deleted and the following substituted.”  Thus, even Rose’s own motion papers support the district court’s determination that Exhibit C was a policy amendment.  Therefore, the only evidence indicating the terms of Rose’s homeowner’s policy is the policy presented by Prudential, which contains a one-year limitations period.

In Henning Nelson Construction Co. v. Fireman’s Fund American Life Insurance Co., 383 N.W.2d 645 (Minn. 1986), the supreme court reaffirmed prior holdings that “absent a specific statute to the contrary, ‘the parties [to an insurance contract] may limit the time within which an action may be brought to a period less than that fixed by the general statutes of limitation provided the limitation is not unreasonably short. . . .’”   Id. at 650 (quoting Prior Lake State Bank v. National Surety Corp., 248 Minn. 383, 388, 80 N.W.2d 612, 616 (1957)).  The court further specified that the reasonableness of a contract limitation “is to be decided on a case-by-case basis, looking at the particular facts of each case” and that such provisions are not generally favored and are to be strictly construed against the party invoking them.  Henning, 383 N.W.2d at 651.


Minnesota Mut. Fire & Cas. Co. v. North Lakes Const., Inc., 400 N.W.2d 367, 369 (Minn. App. 1987).

            Rose claims that the carpet damage occurred in August 2000.  Rose knew by at least October 2000, when Prudential issued three separate checks for the carpet damage, that Prudential was treating the damage as three separate claims.  Prudential sent Rose a notice of nonrenewal in November 2000, stating that his policy would not be renewed because of a plumbing loss in 1999 and three physical-damage losses in August 2000.[2]  The one-year limitations period expired in August 2001, which means that after Prudential committed all of the acts that Rose contends caused him harm, Rose had more than eight months to commence his conciliation court action.  Rose did not commence the conciliation court action until June 2003, more than two years after the date he claims the carpet damage occurred and more than two years after Rose knew that Prudential was treating the damage as three separate claims and was canceling Rose’s policy.[3]

            Rose does not contend that the limitations period in the policy was unreasonable.  He argues that the insurance contract was voidable because Hill acted fraudulently in pursuing three claims rather than one.  Even if fraudulent acts by Prudential in handling Rose’s claim could toll the limitations period, no evidence in the record supports Rose’s contention that Prudential committed fraud.  Although Prudential apologized for any distress and frustration caused to Rose by its handling of his carpet-damage claim, Prudential did not admit that Hill acted fraudulently.  When Hill performed the carpet inspection in October 2000, Rose knew that Hill had determined that the carpet damage resulted from three separate incidents.  Although Rose objected to Prudential treating the carpet damage as three separate claims, no evidence in the record shows that Hill ever agreed to treat the damage as a single claim, and Rose did give Hill permission to remove carpet samples.  Based on Rose’s initial report, Prudential assigned a single claim number to the carpet damage, but no evidence in the record indicates that the initial assignment of a single claim number was binding on Prudential.

            Under the circumstances of this case, the one-year limitations period afforded Rose sufficient time to pursue his claim against Prudential.  The district court did not err in granting summary judgment for Prudential.  See North Lakes Constr., 400 N.W.2d at 369-70 (affirming a summary judgment on the ground that two-year limitations period in insurance policy was not unreasonably short and noting that, even if some delay in pursuing claim was caused by insurer, insured had over three months after rejection of claim to begin an action).


[1] The district court found and Prudential states that Rose commenced the conciliation court action on July 7, 2003, which was the date that Prudential received the statement of claim and summons.  But Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 505 states that an action is commenced against a defendant when a statement of claim is filed with the conciliation court administrator.

[2] Prudential sent Rose a later nonrenewal notice in November 2001.  The later notice did not result from losses claimed by Rose but rather from home-maintenance issues, including missing shingles around a chimney, a gutter discharging onto the roof, peeling paint, and broken window glass. 

[3] We note that even if the limitations period in the policy were two years, Rose did not commence his action against Prudential within the limitations period.