Chris Wills Wins Summary Judgment in a Coverage Dispute

Chris Wills won summary judgment in a coverage dispute. The lawsuit arose out of a tree loss that occurred in 2000. In July 2000, Donald Meinhardt was helping his son, Nathan Meinhardt, move trees on property that Nathan owned in Isanti County. As he was moving one of the trees his tractor, Donald's tractor hit another tree. The tree that Donald hit subsequently developed oat wilt disease; the disease spread to several other nearby trees.

In June 2006, Nathan brought a lawsuit against Donald. Donald tendered the defense of the case to North Star Mutual Insurance Company, his insurer. North Star declined the tender, concluding that Nathan's claims were not covered by Donald's insurance policy. In March 2007, Donald entered into a Miller-Shugart agreement with Nathan. Under the terms of the agreement, Donald agreed to confess judgment in the amount of $30,000. In exchange, Nathan agreed that he would only seek to execute the judgment from the proceeds of any insurance that may be available to Donald.

In May 2007, Nathan and Donald signed a stipulation for dismissal with prejudice. In accordance with the stipulation, the Hennepin County District Court dismissed Nathan's lawsuit with prejudice. As part of the dismissal, no money judgment was entered against Donald. In October 2015, Nathan filed the Miller-Shugart agreement with the Hennepin County Court Administrator. The Court Administrator issued a new judgment in favor of Nathan and against Donald in the amount of $41,500 ($30,000 plus post-judgment interest since 2007).

Nathan then sought to garnish this new judgment against North Star. North Star brought a motion for summary judgment which argued that, among other things, the new judgment was invalid and that there was nothing for Nathan to garnish from the old judgment. The Hennepin County District Court agreed and dismissed Nathan's complaint with prejudice.