This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

A05-1097

 

 

Laura Barradas,

Appellant,

 

vs.

 

State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Company,

an Illinois corporation licensed to do business in the State of Minnesota,

Respondent.

 

 

Filed April 4, 2006

Affirmed

Lansing, Judge

 

Anoka County District Court

File No. C6-04-7284

 

Michael P. Helgesen, Paige J. Donnelly, Paige J. Donnelly, Ltd., 900 Degree of Honor Building, 325 Cedar Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for appellant)

 

William M. Hart, Leatha G. Wolter, Erica Gutmann Strohl, Meagher & Geer, P.L.L.P., 33 South Sixth Street, Suite 4200, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent)

 

            Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Shumaker, Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

LANSING, Judge

            In this declaratory judgment action, Laura Barradas challenges the district court’s summary judgment declaring that she did not have uninsured-motorist coverage under her parents’ policy because she was not a resident of their home when she was struck by an uninsured driver.  Because the facts are undisputed that, at the time of the accident, Barradas was temporarily in her parents’ home for a duration that was not intended or likely to be substantial, we affirm.

F A C T S

Laura Barradas and her fiancé, Franklin Rose, were staying with Barradas’s parents, Wallace and Sue Cox, in March 2003 when Rose accidentally struck Barradas with his car.  Rose was uninsured and Barradas had no automobile-insurance policy in her name.  Barradas filed a claim for uninsured-motorist benefits under her parents’ policy with State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.  State Farm denied the claim on the ground that Barradas did not qualify as a resident relative and therefore was not covered by her parents’ policy.

Barradas filed a declaratory action, seeking a judgment that her parents’ State Farm insurance policy included her in its coverage as a resident relative.  State Farm deposed Barradas, Rose, and the Coxes.  Following the depositions, Barradas submitted her own affidavit and an affidavit from each of her parents.  The depositions and the affidavits centered on Barradas’s living arrangements during the eight years since she had turned eighteen and her current living arrangements with her fiancé in her parents’ home.  

The depositions and affidavits established that Barradas moved from her parents’ home in 1995 at age eighteen to live with a boyfriend whom she later married.  Barradas and her then-husband moved frequently during the marriage, occasionally staying at her parents’ home for a few months at a time. The marriage dissolved in 1999, and Barradas lived with her parents continuously from February 1998 until September 2001 when she moved into Rose’s apartment.  Barradas and Rose lived in Rose’s apartment until they moved into a motel in January 2003.  Throughout this time, Barradas’s two children lived primarily with the Coxes because of conflict between Rose and the children.  In February 2003 Barradas and Rose decided that the motel rent was too expensive and that they needed to find a less expensive place to live.  In the interim, they asked to move in with the Coxes to save money and pay outstanding bills.  The Coxes agreed, and Barradas and Rose moved in on February 27, 2003.  Eight days later, on March 7, 2003, Rose accidentally backed his car into Barradas.

Following the depositions, State Farm moved for summary judgment.  In opposing the motion, Barradas submitted the additional affidavits of herself and her parents.  The district court granted the motion, holding that the evidence was insufficient to create a genuine issue of fact on Barradas’s intent to live with her parents for a substantial period of time, and that she therefore failed to meet the legal requirement to demonstrate residency for purposes of insurance coverage.  Barradas appeals, arguing that the existence of genuine issues of material fact preclude summary judgment, or, alternatively, that the undisputed facts demonstrate she resided at her parents’ home.

D E C I S I O N

This appeal raises the single issue of whether the district court erred by granting summary judgment determining that Barradas was not a resident relative for purposes of the Coxes’ insurance policy when Rose backed into her with his car.  On appeal from summary judgment, we determine whether there are genuine issues of material fact and whether the district court erred in its application of the law.  Cummings v. Koehnen, 568 N.W.2d 418, 420 (Minn. 1997).  In assessing the evidence, we take the view most favorable to the party against whom summary judgment was granted.  Fabio v. Bellomo, 504 N.W.2d 758, 761 (Minn. 1993).  If the nonmoving party, however, fails to raise a material issue of fact on an element essential to establishing its case, summary judgment is appropriate.  Lubbers v. Anderson, 539 N.W.2d 398, 401 (Minn. 1995). 

The Coxes’ State Farm policy provides coverage for the “insured,” which is defined to include relatives of the person named in the policy.  The policy states that a “relative” is “a person related to you . . . who resides with you” and that a “person resides in the same household with you if that person’s home is usually in the same family unit, even though temporarily living elsewhere.”  The provisions at issue are unambiguous, and we therefore apply their plain meaning to determine whether Barradas was a resident of her parents’ home at the time of the accident.  See, e.g., Lott v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 541 N.W.2d 304, 307 (Minn. 1995) (holding “residents of your household” unambiguous); Firemen’s Ins. Co. of Newark, N.J. v. Viktora, 318 N.W.2d 704, 706 (Minn. 1982) (holding “residents of the Named Insured’s household” unambiguous).

To determine whether a person resides in a household, we look to whether (1) the person lives under the same roof; (2) the person is in a close, intimate and informal relationship with the insured; and (3) the intended duration of the person’s stay is likely to be substantial, “consistent with the informality of the relationship, and from which it is reasonable to conclude that the parties would consider the relationship . . . in contracting about such matters as insurance.”  Viktora, 318 N.W.2d at 706 (quotation omitted).  The first two factors are generally established by showing that the person seeking benefits and the insured “dwell together as a family under the same roof.”  Id. at 707.  Considerations relevant to the third factor include the age of the person, the establishment of a separate residence, the self-sufficiency of the person, the frequency and duration of the stay in the family home, and the intent to return.  Wood v. Mut. Serv. Cas. Ins. Co., 415 N.W.2d 748, 750 (Minn. App. 1987), review denied (Minn. Feb. 12, 1988).

Residency, for purposes of insurance coverage, is essentially a question of fact. Fruchtman v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 274 Minn. 54, 55, 142 N.W.2d 299, 300(1966).  But a district court may make a determination on residency as a matter of law when the material facts are undisputed.  French v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 372 N.W.2d 839, 841 (Minn. App. 1985).

State Farm does not dispute that the first Viktora factor is satisfied by Barradas’s physical presence in her parents’ home.  Although State Farm suggests that the intimacy of the living circumstances is not well-established because of the strained relationship between the Coxes and Rose, it acknowledges that this factor is likely satisfied by Barradas’s familial connection to her parents.  Consequently, the dispositive factor under the Viktora analysis is whether Barradas was in her parents’ home for a duration that was intended or likely to be substantial.

The district court concluded that the material evidence was undisputed and established that, at the time of the accident, Barradas did not intend her stay to be of a substantial duration.  We agree.  The depositions provide uncontradicted evidence that Barradas had been living in her parents’ home for approximately eight days when she was struck by the car.  Wallace and Sue Cox both stated that they allowed Barradas and Rose to move in, despite their dislike of Rose, because they anticipated that Barradas and Rose would not stay for a substantial amount of time.  Wallace Cox previously dropped Barradas as a named insured on the policy because “[s]he wasn’t staying in our home,” and did not add her when she returned in 2003 because he did not believe she would be there long.  Similarly, Rose’s deposition testimony establishes that he and Barradas expected to stay at the Cox home only until they found another place to live.  In 2003, just before the accident, Barradas and Rose signed a lease for a new apartment, but later rescinded it because of the accident and negative information about the apartment complex. 

Barradas relies on her decision, following the accident, to remain at her parents’ home for most of 2003.  But the date for determining her residency is when the accident occurred on March 7, 2003.  See State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. Short, 459 N.W.2d 111, 114 (Minn. 1990) (noting that “determination of residency is made as of the date the coverage becomes necessary”).  Later events, not anticipated at the time of the accident, are not relevant to the determination of Barradas’s preaccident intent.  The deposition testimony shows that, although a specific time period was not set, all four believed at the time of the accident that Barradas and Rose’s stay at the Cox home would be short-term.  See Fruchtman, 274 Minn. at 57, 142 N.W.2d at 301 (noting need to consider party’s “ultimate intention to return to some other location”).

Other facts also support the district court’s determination that Barradas was not a resident of the Cox home for purposes of insurance coverage.  She was twenty-six years old at the time of the accident and had established a separate household with Rose in 2001.  Although Barradas was not self-sufficient at the time of the accident, Rose provided her financial support, not the Coxes.  Barradas used her parents’ address at times, but the use of a household address is not dispositive of where one resides for insurance purposes.  See id. (“It is not an unusual practice for adult, emancipated children . . . to use their parents’ address as a place where mail is certain to reach them.”). 

Barradas argues that the affidavits she submitted following the depositions create a genuine issue of material fact on the intended or likely duration of the stay in the Coxes’ home.  These affidavits shift the emphasis of Barradas’s and the Coxes’ statements, but they do not create an issue of material fact for two reasons.  First, parties may not create a triable issue of fact by submitting their own supplemental affidavits to contradict their previous deposition testimony.  Banbury v. Omnitrition Int’l, Inc., 533 N.W.2d 876, 881 (Minn. App. 1995) (“A self-serving affidavit that contradicts earlier damaging deposition testimony is not sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact.”).  Second, the affidavits, at most, indicate only the indeterminacy of the stay, not its intended duration.  The affidavits are therefore cumulative because they provide the same information as the depositions.  The lack of a specific time frame does not preclude the court from concluding that the intended duration of the stay was not substantial.  Barradas failed to provide sufficient evidence to create a triable issue on residency, and the district court did not err by granting summary judgment.

Affirmed.