This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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




St. Paul Reinsurance Company Limited,



Heartland Racing Association, et al.,


Gerald Fjerstad, et al.,


Filed March 3, 1998


Huspeni, Judge

Aitkin County District Court

File No. C096629

Mitchell R. Spector, Abrams & Spector, P.A., 6750 France Ave. S., Suite 126, Minneapolis, MN 55435-1900 (for appellants Fjerstad)

Louise Dovre Bjorkman, John M. Bjorkman, Rider, Bennett, Egan & Arundel, LLP, 2000 Metropolitan Centre, 333 S. Seventh St., Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Huspeni, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Shumaker, Judge.



Appellant, who was injured when his snowmobile struck an embankment that had been erected for a prior snowmobile race, challenges the summary judgment holding that respondent, the insurer of the race's sponsor, had no duty to defend or indemnify the sponsor because the policy covered only race spectators. Because there is no ambiguity in the policy and no coverage is provided for accidents such as appellant's, we affirm.


Defendant Heartland Racing Association (Heartland) sponsored seven snowmobile races during January-February 1995. Respondent St. Paul Reinsurance Company provided coverage for spectators at the races. Heartland paid a total premium of $875, or $125 for each race, for this coverage.

The policy was headed, "OWNERS', LANDLORDS' AND TENANTS' LIABILITY INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR DESIGNATED PREMISES AND RELATED OPERATIONS * * *." Under "Description of/Premises-Operations" on the policy was typed "Special Event-Spectator Liability for 7 scheduled snowmobile races" followed by a list of the dates and places of the seven races. The insuring agreement provided that respondent would pay all sums the insured became legally obligated to pay as damages because of bodily injury or property damage to which the insurance applied, "caused by an occurrence and arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the insured premises and all operations necessary or incidental thereto." An endorsement listed "additional insureds, for specified events per the provisions of Form L9110 attached. * * * Aitkin County * * * 2-19 McGregor, MN."

The policy contained a number of exclusions: one for injury to race participants; one for injury to "all participants, pit attendants, mechanics, stewards and other officials and to all persons employed on or about the premises" and to "all persons whatsoever in the area known as the pit area before the racing program is completed and before all racing units are off the track"; and one for "completed operations," i.e., bodily injury and property damage occurring after the insured operations were completed or abandoned and away from the premises.

The last race took place February 19, 1995. Six days later, appellant Gerald Fjerstad was injured when his snowmobile ran into a snow embankment built for the race. He brought an action against Heartland and entered into a Miller-Shugart agreement for $500,000. Respondent was granted summary judgment that it had no duty to defend or indemnify Heartland. Appellant challenges that judgment.


"Insurance coverage issues are questions of law for the court." State Farm Ins. Cos. v. Seefeld, 481 N.W.2d 62, 64 (Minn. 1992). Therefore, the standard of review is de novo.

Appellant argues that because the policy read "spectator liability," not "spectator liability only," it did not exclude coverage of those who were not spectators. This argument is based on an attempt to distinguish an unpublished opinion, Lehrke v. Tamarack Sno-Flyers, Inc., No. CX-96-2496 (Minn. App. June 17, 1997), review denied (Minn. Aug. 26, 1997).[1] Lehrke involved facts very similar to those here where a snowmobile struck a snow embankment built for a snowmobile race, and the victim sued the sponsors of the race. Appellant misreads Lehrke, which specifically rejected a broad construction of "spectator" and held that a policy for "Spec[tator] Liab[ility] Only" did not cover an accident occurring some days before a snowmobile race. Contrary to appellant's argument, Lehrke did not hold that the word "only" was dispositive.

Appellant also argues that respondent's policy is internally inconsistent because, in the space marked "effective from * * * to" the dates "01-01-95" and "03-01-95" have been filled in, yet under "Description of Hazards" seven specific dates, from 01-01-95 to 02-19-95, are listed as the dates of the "7 scheduled snowmobile races" for which spectator liability coverage is provided. Appellant claims that the three-month period and the seven specific dates cannot be construed together and are therefore ambiguous. However, "where provisions in the body of the policy conflict with an endorsement or rider, the provisions of the endorsement govern." Bobich v. Oja, 258 Minn. 287, 294-95, 104 N.W.2d 19, 24 (1960). A court must analyze an insurance policy as a whole and give effect to all of its provisions. Id. An analysis of the entire policy clearly shows that premiums were paid and coverage was provided for spectators at seven snowmobile races on specific dates at specific places. There was no coverage for an entire three-month period; the coverage was for particular events within that period. The sets of dates are not irreconcilable.

Appellant next argues that because some of the exclusions pertained to occurrences while practicing or preparing for races as well as while participating, coverage of spectators was not limited to occurrences during races. The fact that some exclusions of nonspectators cover periods outside the races, however, does not alter the fact that coverage was provided for spectators at the seven races, not for those on the lake six days later.

Appellant asserts that extrinsic evidence, i.e., the Aitkin County permit requiring Heartland to obtain comprehensive general liability insurance naming the county as an additional insured, shows that excluding his accident is "inconsistent with the expectations of the parties * * *." We disagree. Respondent's expectation that it was providing coverage for spectators at seven events is evident from its charging premiums for each of the events and listing the specified events on the policy.

Heartland may have expected different coverage; its board chairman submitted an affidavit stating that he did not intend coverage to be limited strictly to the dates of the specific racing events. The affidavit does not state that the chairman read the policy, or that the policy or any of respondent's agents gave any reason to believe that coverage was extended beyond the seven races. The reasonable expectations doctrine does not relieve the insured of the obligation to read the policy. Conwed Corp. v. Employers Reinsurance Corp., 816 F. Supp. 1355, 1359 (D. Minn. 1993) (citing Hubred v. Control Data Corp., 442 N.W.2d 308, 311 (Minn. 1989)). Moreover, the subjective beliefs of the insured are not the controlling principle in construction of a policy. "The terms of an insurance policy should be construed according to what a reasonable person in the position of the insured would have understood the words to mean * * *." Canadian Universal Ins. Co. v. Fire Watch, Inc., 258 N.W.2d 570, 572 (Minn. 1977). A reasonable person reading this policy would have understood it to mean that it provided coverage for spectators at each of seven races, not for individuals who were not spectators and whose injuries were unrelated to any of the races. See also Lehrke, unpub. op. at 6 ("A reasonable person in the position of [the insured club] would have understood that the coverage provided by [the insurer's] policy applied to spectators at club events.").

The policy was not ambiguous. Neither its own language nor the expectation of the insured operates to extend coverage to those who were not spectators.[2] Respondent was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law.


[1] We note initially that, as an unpublished opinion, Lehrke has no precedential value. See Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996). However, in the interests of completeness, we address appellant's argument.

[2] We note that, even if coverage had extended to appellant, his accident would have been excluded by the "completed operations hazard" exclusion. Appellant's reliance on Ames v. Minnesota Hoist Inspection, Inc., No. C9-95-1488 (Minn. App. Jan. 9, 1996), to argue that coverage extends to any accident occurring on the premises previously owned or rented by the insured is misplaced, first, because Ames is an unpublished opinion with no precedential value and, second, because Ames held that a completed operations hazard exclusion of injury "occurring away from the premises you own or rent" applied to prevent coverage for an accident occurring on the premises of a completed operation, and Ames is not distinguishable from the case here.