Brownson Norby, PLLC partner Kristi K. Brownson won a major decision from the North Dakota Supreme Court. In its March 15, 2016 ruling in APM, LLLP v. TCI Insurance Agency, Inc., 2016 ND 66, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed a summary judgment ruling previously obtained by Brownson Norby on behalf of its client, TCI Insurance Agency, Inc., and ordered that the claims of APM, LLLP be dismissed with prejudice.
At issue in the case was the standard of care of an insurance agency under North Dakota law. Brownson Norby, PLLC contended that its client, TCI Insurance Agency, Inc., complied with the standard of care in placing insurance coverage and the Supreme Court of North Dakota agreed and so held.
The decision is important in reaffirming that the duty of an insurance agent in North Dakota continues to be governed by the “Rawlings” standard of care, which “requires an insurance agent to exercise the skill and care which a reasonably prudent person engaged in the insurance business would use under similar circumstances.” The Court further addressed the limited “special relationship” exception to this standard of care, and set a high threshold for such a special relationship to exist. The Court held that the plaintiff in this case was unable to meet that threshold.
This decision is also important to Minnesota insurance professionals, as the Rawlings standard of care was adopted in North Dakota based upon the seminal Minnesota Supreme Court case of Gabrielson v. Warnemunde, 443 N.W.2d 540, 543 (Minn. 1989).
This decision, thus, reaffirms the vitality of the Gabrielson and Rawlings standard of care, adopted in Minnesota and North Dakota over twenty-five years ago.