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Hansmeier v. Hansmeier

Court of Appeals of Nebraska

April 10, 2018

Scott and Karie Hansmeier, appellants.
v.
Merva Hansmeier and Western Insurors-Platte Valley Agency, appellees.

         1. Summary Judgment. Summary judgment is proper when the pleadings and evidence admitted at the hearing disclose no genuine issue regarding any material fact or the ultimate inferences that may be drawn from those facts and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

         2. Summary Judgment: Appeal and Error. In reviewing a summary judgment, an appellate court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against whom the judgment is granted and gives such party the benefit of all reasonable inferences deducible from the evidence.

         3. Negligence: Proof. To prevail in any negligence action, a plaintiff must show a legal duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, a breach of such duty, causation, and resulting damages.

         4. Insurance: Agents. An insurance agent has no duty to anticipate what coverage an insured should have.

         5. _: _ . When an insured asks an insurance agent to procure insurance, the insured has a duty to advise the insurance agent as to the desired insurance.

         6. Insurance: Contracts: Breach of Contract: Negligence. Absent evidence that an insurance agent has agreed to provide advice or the insured was reasonably led by the agent to believe he would receive advice, the failure to volunteer information does not constitute either negligence or breach of contract for which an insurance agent must answer in damages.

         7. Insurance: Agents. It would be an unreasonable burden to impose upon insurance agents a duty to anticipate what coverage an individual [25 Neb.App. 743] should have, absent the insured's requesting coverage in at least a general way. 8. Insurance: Agents: Brokers. If an insurance agent or broker undertakes to advise an insured, the agent or broker must use reasonable care to provide accurate information.

         9. Insurance: Agents: Brokers: Liability: Negligence. An insurance agent or broker may be held liable for a negligent misrepresentation made to an insured.

         10. Insurance: Agents: Liability: Negligence: Proof. In order for an insurance agent to be liable for negligent misrepresentation, the client must show that the insurance agent supplied the client with false information upon which the client reasonably relied and that the agent failed to exercise reasonable care or competence in communicating such information to the client.

          Appeal from the District Court for Keith County: Richard A. Birch, Judge. Affirmed.

          Brock D. Wurl, of Norman, Paloucek, Herman & Wurl, for appellants.

          Sean A. Minahan and Patrick G. Vipond, of Lamson, Dugan & Murray, L.L.P., for appellees.

          Pirtle, Bishop, and Arterburn, Judges.

          Bishop, Judge.

         Scott and Karie Hansmeier filed a negligence claim against Merva Hansmeier and her employer, Western Insurors-Platte Valley Agency (Western Insurers), claiming that Merva improperly advised them regarding the need to purchase workers' compensation insurance for their farm and ranch operation. The district court for Keith County granted Merva and Western Insurers' motion for summary judgment. Scott and Karie appeal, claiming that there are genuine issues of material fact that prevent summary judgment. We affirm.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Scott and his wife, Karie, live in Ogallala, Nebraska. Scott and Karie own and operate a farm and ranch; they also [25 Neb.App. 744] rent farmland and pastureland. Scott and his father are each sole proprietors of their own farming operations, but work together and are "basically 50/50 partners." Scott said he does "all [of] the work, " some of the farmland is owned by his father, they each own their own machinery but use each other's as needed, and they crop share. In 2012, Scott had two full-time employees, including Mike Heble, and Scott's father had one full-time employee. Scott said he paid Heble, Scott's father paid his own employee, and they both paid the third employee; "[t]hat's how we get 50/50 out of the three guys."

         Merva is Scott's aunt and was his insurance agent in 2012, and for several years prior. In 2012, Scott got all of his insurance through Merva, including his farm policy, homeowner's insurance, auto insurance, and health insurance. Scott did not provide any insurance for his employees.

         On February 2, 2012, Heble injured his thumb in an auger while loading grain out of a bin and into a truck, and his thumb had to be "stitched . . . back on." When Scott tried to file a farm liability claim with his insurance company, he learned that Heble's injury was not covered.

         In 2014, Heble filed a lawsuit against Scott, but that workers' compensation claim was eventually settled for an amount that included medical bills and a disability payment. Scott and his father split the costs of the settlement. The amount of the settlement was not put into evidence at the summary judgment hearing. The date of the settlement is not evident from our record; but it appears to have been after ...


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