STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
TIG Insurance Company,
John Casey Quinn,
Jeffrey Cain, et al.,
Kyle Rooney, et al.,
Filed November 23, 1999
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 98018311
John R. Crawford, Jenell M. Matthews, Johnson & Lindberg, P.A., 8500 Tower, Suite 1610, 8500 Normandale Lake Blvd., Minneapolis, MN 55437-3828 (for respondent TIG Insurance)
Alan S. Milavetz, David O.N. Johnson, Michael R. Docherty, Milavetz, Gallop & Milavetz, P.A., 6500 France Avenue South, Edina, MN 55435 (for appellants Jeffrey Cain, et al.)
Richard A. Lind, William L. Davidson, Lind, Jensen & Sullivan, 150 South Fifth Street, Suite 1700, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant John Casey Quinn)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Mulally, Judge.[*]
Appellants challenge the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of respondent TIG Insurance Company, contending the district court erred when it inferred that the insured, appellant John Casey Quinn, acted intentionally as a matter of law and therefore was excluded from coverage under his policy of insurance issued by respondent. We affirm.
Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational fact-finder to rule for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial. DLH, Inc. v. Russ, 566 N.W.2d 60, 69 (Minn. 1997). A genuine issue of material fact for trial must be established by substantial evidence. Id. at 70. If evidence "merely creates a metaphysical doubt as to a factual issue and * * * is not sufficiently probative with respect to an essential element of the nonmoving party's case," there is no genuine issue of material fact for trial. Id. at 71.
Quinn's auto insurance policy provides coverage for bodily injury unless the injury was intentional. Appellants argue the court erred in determining as a matter of law that Quinn was excluded from liability coverage because he intended the injury. We disagree. In order to exclude liability coverage under the policy exclusion, Quinn must have intended to cause bodily injury. See R.W. v. T.F., 528 N.W.2d 869, 872 (Minn. 1995). The insured must intend the harm itself, not merely the act that caused the harm. Id. The necessary intent for an intentional-acts exclusion to apply may be established either by proving an insured's actual intent to injure or by inferring such intent as a matter of law. Id. The inference of intent arises when the nature and circumstances of the insured's act were such that harm was substantially certain to result. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. Wicka, 474 N.W.2d 324, 329 (Minn. 1991).
Courts have been willing to infer intent to injure in a variety of circumstances. See, e.g., Woida v. North Star Mut. Ins. Co., 306 N.W.2d 570, 573 (Minn. 1981) (en banc) (inferring intent where insured and several friends armed themselves with loaded rifles, drove to a construction site, and shot at a vehicle even though they knew the vehicle was occupied); Iowa Kemper Ins. Co. v. Stone, 269 N.W.2d 885, 887 (Minn. 1978) (inferring intent to injure as a matter of law when insured wrapped his belt buckle around his hand and struck the plaintiff); Continental W. Ins. Co. v. Toal, 309 Minn. 169, 177-78, 244 N.W.2d 121, 126 (1976) (inferring intent to injure during armed robbery where insureds intentionally prepared themselves to inflict serious injury by carrying loaded guns); Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Smith, 376 N.W.2d 506, 510 (Minn. App. 1985) (inferring intent as a matter of law where insured intentionally fired four bullets into a house he knew to be occupied), review denied (Minn. Jan. 17, 1986).
Here, it is undisputed that Quinn: (1) drove from his home to a parking lot to confront a group of boys he believed had chased his sons; (2) made a U-turn in the lot toward where the boys stood; (3) hit the boys with his car; and (4) continued driving over the curb, out onto the street, and back into the lot again. In addition, Quinn admitted to the police that he accelerated toward the boys and that he was angry at the time. Moreover, while one of the victims was lying in the street after the collision, saying his leg was broken, Quinn continued to confront him about chasing Quinn's children. Finally, the record indicates: (1) the only skid marks were where Quinn stopped after re-entering the parking lot, not where the boys were struck; and (2) Quinn's car and its brakes were in proper working order at the time.
According to his own testimony, Quinn accelerated toward a group of children while angry and did not stop until after he had driven back out on the street and re-entered the parking lot. Because harm is substantially certain to result when deliberately accelerating into a group of children, we conclude intent may be inferred under such circumstances.
Appellants argue a material factual dispute exists. We disagree. Appellants failed to establish any material factual dispute by substantial evidence. They argue the district court should consider Quinn's polygraph, but the district court properly followed existing law and disregarded the polygraph and voice-stress-test results. See State v. Anderson, 379 N.W.2d 70, 79 (Minn. 1985). Nor is Quinn's criminal acquittal sufficient to establish a material factual dispute since evidence of acquittal in criminal proceedings is not admissible in a civil suit arising out of the event that formed the basis of criminal charges. See Krueger v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 510 N.W.2d 204, 210 (Minn. App. 1993). Similarly, the unsigned statements of Quinn's two sons do not defeat the summary judgment motion. See Whiteford v. Yamaha Motor Corp., 582 N.W.2d 916, 920 n.21 (Minn. 1998) (holding unsworn statements by witnesses to accident were "unverified allegations" and not sufficient to defeat a summary judgment motion).
The district court did not err in determining the accident reconstruction report is not probative. First, the report did not address intent because the expert stated that accident reconstruction does not determine what a person was thinking at the time of the accident. Second, the report provided no evidence of Quinn braking at the point of impact but merely restated witness accounts. The report is not sufficiently probative with respect to the essential element of intent to raise an issue of material fact.
Similarly, Quinn's self-serving denial of intent in his deposition is insufficient to prevent summary judgment in its favor. Where a party's proffered evidence consists merely of nonfactual, self-serving statements, no material factual dispute exists preventing summary judgment. See Cessna Fin. Corp. v. Dwire, 377 N.W.2d 45, 48 (Minn. App. 1985).
Finally, Quinn argues that the district court erred by weighing the evidence. We disagree. The district court's function on a motion for summary judgment is not to decide issues of fact or to weigh the evidence, but "solely to determine whether genuine factual issues exist." DLH, 566 N.W.2d at 70. But when determining whether a genuine issue of material fact for trial exists, "the court is not required to ignore its conclusion that a particular piece of evidence may have no probative value." Id. The district court here did not impermissibly weigh the evidence.
Because the district court properly determined intent can be inferred as a matter of law, Quinn is excluded from coverage and respondent has no duty to defend him. When it can be concluded as a matter of law that there is no basis on which an insurer is obligated to indemnify the insured, the insurer is relieved of its duty to defend. Woida, 306 N.W.2d at 574 (inferring intent to injure where insured shot at car he knew to be occupied and therefore finding insurer had no duty to defend).
[*] Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.