This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




Wayne Hadler, et al.,



The White Bear Lake Insurance Company,

d/b/a White Bear Lake Insurance Company and

d/b/a White Bear Lake Insurance Company and

Reinsurance Association of Minnesota, third-party plaintiff,


Federated Telephone Cooperative,

Third-Party Defendant.

Filed September 22, 1998


Thoreen, Judge*

Stevens County District Court

File No. C096195

Gerald C. Glasrud, Martin, Nelson & Glasrud, P.A., 109 East 6th Street, P.O. Box 66, Morris, MN 56267 (for appellants)

Paul Wocken, Willenbring, Dahl, Wocken & Zimmermann, Red River at Main, P.O. Box 417, Cold Spring, MN 56320-0417 (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Thoreen, Judge.



Appellants claim that the district court erred by granting summary judgment against them and dismissing their complaint. We affirm.


Appellants Wayne and Vicki Hadler were insured under a homeowner's policy issued by respondents White Bear Lake Insurance Company (WBL) and Reinsurance Association of Minnesota (RAM). Under the policy, WBL provided fire coverage and RAM provided windstorm and liability coverage.

Appellants filed a claim of loss under the policy, alleging wind damage to their home. After respondents rejected their claim, appellants sought to commence a civil suit against WBL by personally serving a WBL employee with a copy of their complaint, mailing a copy to WBL's corporate address, and mailing a copy to the state Commissioner of Commerce via certified mail.[1]

Respondents moved for summary judgment, arguing that WBL was not the proper defendant and that appellants' attempts to serve WBL were untimely and procedurally deficient. After a hearing, the district court granted respondents' motion and dismissed appellants' complaint. This appeal followed.


Determination of whether service of process was proper is a question of law. Amdahl v. Stonewall Ins. Co., 484 N.W.2d 811, 814 (Minn. App. 1992), review denied (Minn. July 16, 1992). Questions of law are reviewed de novo. Frost-Benco Elec. Ass'n v. Minnesota Pub. Utils. Comm'n, 358 N.W.2d 639, 642 (Minn. 1984).

The Commissioner of Commerce may, under certain conditions, accept service of process for insurers who do business in Minnesota:

When a person, including any nonresident of this state, engages in conduct prohibited or made actionable by chapters 45 to 83, 155A, 309, and 332, and section 326.83, or any rule or order under those chapters, and the person has not filed a consent to service of process under chapters 45 to 83, 155A, 309, and 332, and section 326.83, that conduct is equivalent to an appointment of the commissioner as the person's attorney to receive service of process in any noncriminal suit, action, or proceeding against the person which is based on that conduct and is brought under chapters 45 to 83, 155A, 309, and 332, and section 326.83, or any rule or order under those chapters.

Minn. Stat. § 45.028, subd. 1(a) (Supp. 1997).

Technical specificity in pleadings is generally not required. See, e.g., Minn. R. Civ. P. 8.05(a) (pleadings shall be simple, concise, and direct). But statutory requirements for service of process are jurisdictional and mandate strict compliance. Wood v. Martin, 328 N.W.2d 723, 726 (Minn. 1983); see also Schuett v. Powers, 288 Minn. 542, 543, 180 N.W.2d 253, 254 (1970) (complaint that fails to recite jurisdictional facts required by statute renders service fatally defective).

Here, appellants' complaint broadly alleged that respondents had breached the insurance contract and their statutory duties by refusing to pay appellants' claim of loss. But the complaint did not specifically allege that respondents violated any of the statutes listed in Minn. Stat. § 45.028. Because their complaint made no such allegations, appellants failed to show they had a right to effect service under that statute.

Furthermore, mailing a copy of the complaint by certified mail to the Commissioner of Commerce did not effect service. Minn. Stat. § 45.028, subd. 2 (1996), provides that:

Service of process under this section may be made by leaving a copy of the process in the office of the commissioner, and is not effective unless: (1) the plaintiff, who may be the commissioner in an action or proceeding instituted by the commissioner, sends notice of the service and a copy of the process by certified mail to the defendant or respondent at the last known address; and (2) the plaintiff's affidavit of compliance is filed in the action or proceeding on or before the return day of the process, if any, or within further time as the court allows.

(Emphasis added.) Appellants argue that certified mail is an adequate way to "leave" a copy of the process in the commissioner's office. See Minn. Stat. § 45.015 (1996) (notice to commissioner may be accomplished by mail "unless a different method is specified" in statute).

Appellants' argument lacks merit. Minn. Stat. § 45.028, subd. 2, clearly distinguishes between "leaving a copy of the process" and the use of certified mail. The legislature, if it had so intended, could specifically have stated that certified mail was adequate to effect service upon the commissioner. In the absence of such language, we must presume that the legislature intended to exclude certified mail as a means of delivery. See Minn. Stat. § 645.19 (1996) (exceptions expressed in law construed to exclude all others); Brandt v. Hallwood Mgmt. Co., 560 N.W.2d 396, 400 (Minn. App. 1997) (when construing statute, appellate court cannot supply what legislature purposely omits).

The district court did not err by granting summary judgment in favor of respondents and dismissing appellants' complaint.[2]


*Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.

[1] On appeal, appellants conceded that personal service on WBL was ineffective.

[2] We note that even if appellants had served WBL effectively, it appears that RAM, the windstorm provider under the policy, was the proper defendant. Appellants' counsel has acknowledged that he did not effectively serve RAM within the limitations period of the policy.