Insurance Company Tries To Not Pay On Claim Involving Death of Little Girl In Farm ATV Accident and Court Tells Them They Drafted The Policy Poorly.

A father and his son operated a farm.  The son's daughter had a 12-year birthday (sleepover) party at the farm and invited her friends to attend.  The day after the sleepover, a 10-year friend of the daughter and the daughter took turns riding the farm's ATV on the farm over several hours.  The girls did not ask permission and were never told they could operate the ATV.  The father and son both saw the girls operating the ATV and did not stop them from doing so, but the grandfather told his granddaughter that both of the girls needed to slow down.  While both girls were on the ATV, the ATV struck a tree and the 10-year-old friend was killed.  The father and son were sued for wrongful death and the father and son sought coverage under their policy with the plaintiff which provided $300,000 in coverage.  The insurance company reserved its right to dispute coverage and filed a declaratory judgment action claiming that the policy did not provide coverage for the little girl's death.  The wrongful death action settled for $462,500.  The trial court held that the exclusionary clause in the policy that excluded coverage for "any person operating [an ATV] with 'your' express permission" did not apply because the girls did not receive express permission.  The policy did not define the term "express permission" and the court gave it its plain and ordinary meaning, and noted that the facts clearly indicated that the girls were operating the ATV only with tacit or implied permission.  The trial court granted summary judgment for the insureds.  Not satisfied with that result, the plaintiff appealed.  However, the appellate court affirmed.  The court noted that the policy did not define "express permission" and that the trial court was correct in applying the plain and ordinary meaning to the phrase.  The appellate court harshly scolded the plaintiff when it stated, "Grinnell's arguments suggesting the district court erred 'are the complaints of a poor draftsman, and we are as unsympathetic as we expect the [Minnesota courts] would be....It's not our role to rescue an insurer from its own drafting decisions."'  Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Co. v. Villanueva, No. 14-2933, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 14017 (8th Cir. Aug. 11, 2015), aff'g., 37 F. Supp. 3d 1043 (D. Minn. 2014).