Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
as assignees of Jim Hilgers and Sons,
Kevin B. Post, et al.,
James L. Spenger, et al.,
Timothy W. Waldeck, Waldeck & Lind, P.A., Suite 730 TCF Tower, 121 South Eighth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellants)
James O. Redman, Charles E. Lundberg, Bassford, Lockhart, Truesdell & Briggs, P.A., 3550 Multifoods Tower, 33 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Crippen, Presiding Judge, Harten, Judge, and Schultz, Judge.*
*Retired judge of the District Court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
Appellants, assignees of Jim Hilgers & Sons, Inc., challenge a directed verdict, contending that respondent James Spenger had a duty to advise, offer, and provide additional insurance coverage to Hilgers. We affirm the trial court's holding that no agency relationship existed between respondent and the insured.
In October 1985, Jim Hilgers approached defendant Kevin Post, a Farmers Insurance Group agent, about purchasing insurance coverage for Hilgers's milk trucks. Post informed Hilgers that he could not get the insurance from Farmers, but that he could obtain coverage from Grinnell Mutual by working with one of its agents, James Spenger, at Key City Insurance Agency. Hilgers agreed to purchase the insurance available from Grinnell. Hilgers maintained this insurance coverage through the date of appellant Elizabeth Huber's accident in August 1993.
Appellant contends that respondent Spenger had a duty to advise Hilgers to purchase additional insurance coverage. This argument rests on the characterization of James Spenger as Hilgers's agent. The trial court concluded that Spenger was an agent of Grinnell Mutual. This conclusion is consistent with Minn. Stat. § 60K.15 (1996) ("Any person who solicits insurance is the agent of the insurer and not the agent of the insured."). In directing a verdict in the case, the trial judge concluded that there was no evidence that Spenger was also the agent of Hilgers: "It is clear that Hilgers approached Post and requested coverage, discussed it with him, and had absolutely no direct contact with Mr. Spenger." This description of the case is supported by evidence in the record. Appellants have not presented any facts to establish contacts that would permit the trial court to find an agency relationship. As a result, there is no occasion here to examine the special circumstances under which an agent has a duty to furnish information or advice to the insured. See, e.g. Gabrielson v. Warnemunde, 443 N.W.2d 540, 543-46 (Minn. 1989) (reviewing insurance agent's affirmative duties under special circumstances). The trial court did not err.
Because we affirm the directed verdict, we do not reach appellants' claim for bifurcation of the case on remand.