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State Farm Fire & Casualty Company v. Dantzler (PFR)

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Date: 
Tuesday, April 29, 2014

S-12-1042, State Farm Fire & Casualty Company v. Jerry Dantzler, David Chuo, Individually and as father and next friend to Chuol Geit, and Chuol Geit (Appellant)

Douglas County, Judge Kimberly M. Pankonin

Attorneys: David J. Stubstad, Patrick S. Cooper (Fraser Stryker PCLLO) --- Michael A. Nelsen (Marks Clare & Richards LLC) (Appellant Dantzler)

Civil: Declaratory judgment; determination of coverage under policy

Proceedings below: The district court found the State Farm policy did not provide coverage to Mr. Dantzler for lead-based paint claim made against him. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for further proceedings. See State Farm v. Dantzler, 21 Neb. 564 (2013). Appellee State Farm filed a Petition for Further Review which was granted by the Nebraska Supreme Court.

Issues on Review: 1. The Court of Appeals erred in disregarding Nebraska law, and in adopting a

Connecticut trial court opinion, in deciding that part of the pollution exclusion was ambiguous.

2. The Court of Appeals erred in disregarding Nebraska law and relying upon a Connecticut trial court decision in concluding there is more than one reasonable interpretation of part of the pollution exclusion, because this Court has previously held the entire exclusion is "clear," "unambiguous as a matter of law," and "susceptible of only one possible interpretation."

3. The Court of Appeals erred in disregarding Nebraska law and relying upon a Connecticut trial court decision as the basis for assessing the "reasonable expectations" of State Farm's insured, because (a) the pollution exclusion is unambiguous, and (b) the reasonable expectations of an insured are not assessed unless a policy provision is ambiguous. 4. The Court of Appeals erred in concluding there was a question of fact as to whether the lead paint exposure was caused by a "discharge, dispersal, release, spill, or escape," because its analysis was based on the Connecticut trial court decision, and ignored the majority rule that lead paint exposure results from a discharge, dispersal, spill, release, or escape.

This page was last modified on Tuesday, April 29, 2014