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Donnell v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 12, 2014

JERRY DONNELL, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
AMERICAN FAMILY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee

Editorial Note:

This decision is published in table format in the North Western Reporter.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Benton County, Sean W. McPartland, Judge. Jerry Donnell appeals the district court ruling granting defendant American Family Mutual Insurance Company's motion for summary judgment.

Matt J. Reilly of Eells & Tronvold Law Offices P.L.C., Cedar Rapids, for appellant.

Scott K. Green, West Des Moines, for appellee.

Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.

OPINION

BOWER, J.

Jerry Donnell appeals the district court ruling granting defendant American Family Mutual Insurance Company's motion for summary judgment. Donnell claims the one-year limitations provision found in the insurance contract is inapplicable as it is contrary to Iowa law; and the limitations provision is unenforceable as it is unreasonable, unconscionable, and contrary to his reasonable expectations. We find the provision is not contrary to Iowa law as it is identical to the standard statute of limitations for fire insurance contracts required by Iowa law. We also find the one-year limitations period is enforceable. We affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

American Family Mutual Insurance Company (American Family) issued an insurance policy to Jerry Donnell (Donnell) to cover his personal and real property from loss. More than sixteen months after a June 20, 2011 lightning strike to his home, Donnell filed suit against American Family.

American Family moved for summary judgment claiming the suit was barred by the one-year limitations period found within the insurance contract. Donnell resisted the motion by claiming the suit was not barred because a " conformity to state law" provision in the policy reformed the one-year limitations period to comply with Iowa's ten-year limitations period on contract claims. Donnell also claimed the provision was unconscionable, unreasonable, and contrary to his reasonable expectations. Disagreeing, the district court granted American Family's motion.

II. Standard of Review

We review both the interpretation of insurance contracts and a district court's grant of summary judgment for correction of errors at law. Boelman v. Grinnell Mut. Reins. Co., 826 N.W.2d 494, 500 (Iowa 2013). We review the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, granting every legitimate inference that can be reasonably deduced from the evidence. Id. at 500-01. Summary judgment is granted when ...


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