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Supreme Court: Insurance company not liable to pay for fire damage

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld a circuit court decision ruling in favor of an insurance company regarding fire damage to personal property.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld a circuit court decision ruling in favor of an insurance company regarding fire damage to personal property.

The Supreme Court's findings in the case of Korzan vs. North Star Mutual Insurance were published publically Wednesday.

Charles and Michael Korzan sought financial assistance from North Star Mutual Insurance after hay bales on one of their trucks caught fire and sparked flames in three locations near Okaton, about five miles west of Murdo in central South Dakota. The fire occurred in September 2012.

North Star Mutual Insurance said the brothers' policy did not apply to property damage "which results from the ownership, operation, maintenance, use, occupancy, renting, loaning, entrusting, supervision or "loading or unloading" of "motorized vehicles," called the Motorized Vehicle Exclusion.

A circuit court ruled in favor of North Star Mutual Insurance, granting summary judgement - in which there is not a full trial. The Korzans appealed to the state Supreme Court.

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The Supreme Court justices upheld the circuit court's decision, stating the brothers did not provide sufficient evidence to create reasonable doubt the fires were vehicle-related.

"Other than speculation, the Korzans have not presented any factual cause for the fire and its spread other than the semi-truck being driven down the road with a flaming load of hay dropping sparks and firebrands as it traveled," the judges said in a written decision. "Mere speculation and general assertions, without some concrete evidence, are not enough to avoid summary judgment."

Furthermore, the court determined the Korzans claims "clearly fall outside of the policy's coverage."

"North Star has no duty to defend or indemnify the Korzans," the decision said.

Related Topics: FIRESU.S. SUPREME COURT
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