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Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. v. Cook

Supreme Court of Idaho

March 30, 2018

FARM BUREAU MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
EDGAR WILKINS COOK JR. and LAURIE FRANCES COOK, husband and wife, Defendants-Appellants, and JOSEPH STANCZAK, Defendant.

          Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Bonner County. Hon. Barbara A. Buchanan, District Judge.

         The district court's judgment is affirmed.

          James, Vernon & Weeks, P.A., Coeur d'Alene, for appellants. Wes S. Larsen argued.

          Hawley Troxell Ennis & Hawley LLP, Boise, for respondent. James L. Martin argued.

          BRODY, JUSTICE

         This case involves the interpretation of the insuring clause of a bodily injury liability provision in a property insurance contract. This case originated from an intentional shooting at a campground. Michael Chisholm shot Joseph Stanczak during an altercation on property owned by the Cooks, who had property insurance through Farm Bureau. Farm Bureau determined it had no duty to defend or indemnify the Cooks because the shooting was not a covered act under the policy. Farm Bureau filed a declaratory judgment action seeking judicial confirmation of its determination. Farm Bureau filed a motion for summary judgment, requesting that the district court find as a matter of law that the intentional shooting was not an "occurrence." The district court granted Farm Bureau's motion. We affirm the district court's judgment in favor of Farm Bureau.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Edgar and Laurie Cook own 200 acres of property ("Property") in Bonner County, Idaho. The Property includes Bloom Lake, a cabin, and a campground. The Cooks allow people to use the lake and campground without charging a fee, but they solicit voluntary donations to help with the Property's upkeep. Approximately twenty years ago, Michael Chisholm asked the Cooks if he could stay in the cabin in exchange for maintaining the Property. They agreed, and Chisholm began caring for the Property.

         On June 28, 2015, Joseph Stanczak and his girlfriend were camping at the Property. Chisholm invited them into the cabin, and a dispute later arose between Chisholm and Stanczak. Chisholm shot Stanczak twice with a .45 caliber handgun, then left the scene. Authorities later apprehended Chisholm and charged him with Aggravated Battery and Use of a Deadly Weapon in Commission of a Felony. Chisholm entered an Alford plea, by which he pleaded guilty without admitting guilt as to all the elements of the crimes. He was sentenced to prison.

         The Cooks have an insurance policy ("Policy") with Farm Bureau that insures the Property. The Policy's only insureds are Edgar and Laurie Cook. The Policy includes the following relevant definitions:

Occurrence means an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to the same harmful conditions, which results in unexpected bodily injury or property damage during the policy period. All bodily injury and property damage resulting from a common cause will be considered the result of one occurrence.

         Additionally, the Policy's Section II contains two relevant coverage sections: F1 (Bodily Injury Liability) and F2 (Premises Medical). Coverage F1 provides in relevant part:

If a claim is made or a suit is brought against any insured for damages because of bodily injury or property damage, caused by an occurrence to which this coverage applies, we will:
1. Pay up to our limit of liability for the damages for which the insured is legally liable (damages includes any ...

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