Claim of Farmer Against Crop Insurer Has Zero Merit.

The plaintiff suffered hail damage to its crops on approximately 5,000 acres.  The crops were insured under the defendant’s policy.  The policy stated that the percentage loss would be determined using the crop-hail loss adjustment procedures published by the National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) or, in the absence of such procedures, as determined by the defendant.  The defendant’s team of adjusters determined that over 4,000 acres had payable hail loss and, in accordance with the NCIS manuals, established the proof of loss.  The plaintiff refused to sign the proof of loss, and the defendant issued a net payment to the plaintiff of $233,058 for the crop hail losses.  The claim was reviewed to determine its accuracy and the defendant concluded that it had been properly adjusted based on average yields over a five-year period because a comparison of the 2012 yields of hailed and non-hailed acres would not work.  The plaintiff sued for breach of contract and bad faith, and the defendant moved for summary judgment.  The court determined that the plaintiff failed to point to any policy language imposing any obligations that the defendant breached.  The court stated, “Unfortunately, the Bruhn’s resistance brief is not helpful.  Incredibly, it does not contain a single cite to any case, statute or other legal authority.  The “Argument” portion of the brief is less than two pages.  If Bruhn has a good argument for resisting FFIC’s motion, it did not share that argument with the court.”  The court pointed out that the policy clearly provided for the NCIS procedures to be used to determine the insurable loss, which the defendant did utilize.  Thus, the court determined that the defendant did not breach the contract and that there were no issues of material fact on the breach of contract claim and that the plaintiff’s claim lacked merit and constituted “customer-service” complaints.  The court also held that the defendant had not acted in bad faith.  The court granted summary judgment for the defendant and canceled the trial that was scheduled in the future.  Bruhn Farms Joint Venture v. Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, No. C13-4106-LTS, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60320 (N.D. Iowa May 8, 2015).  

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