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Vol. 8 - Issue 2
February 6, 2019

Court Holds That Raising Cattle Is Not A Domestic Duty To Create Insured Status
West Bend Mutual Ins. Co. v. Calumet Equity Insurance Company, No. 2018AP435 (Wis. Ct. App. Jan. 17, 2019) addressed coverage, for a rear-end collision, that resulted from cattle in a roadway that had escaped from a farm.  At issue in the subsequent coverage action, growing out of the underlying bodily injury claim, was the applicability of a provision, in a liability policy, that created insured status for “persons in the course of performing domestic duties that relate to the ‘insured premises.’”  The court held that the fencing of cattle on a farm is not a “domestic duty: “David’s activities on Raymond’s property are not ‘domestic duties’ under the holding in Marnholtz [v. Church Mut. Ins. Co., 815 N.W. 2d 708 (Wis. Ct. App. 2012)] for the inescapable reason that David’s activities are not concerned with the management of a private place of residence.  There is no connection between either the operation of a cattle business, or the maintenance of a fence on the premises to corral the cattle, and the management of a household or residence as required by Marnholtz.”  

A Poor Squirrel And Efficient Proximate Cause
In City of W. Liberty v. Emplrs Mut. Cas. Co., No. 16-1972 (Iowa Feb. 1, 2019), the Iowa Supreme Court rejected the applicability of the efficient proximate cause rule as a basis to find coverage.  The court’s decision was summarized as follows: “In a story that probably would not have been written by Beatrix Potter, a squirrel found its way onto an electrical transformer owned by a municipality, triggering an electrical arc that killed the squirrel and caused substantial damage to the municipality’s property.  The municipality sought coverage under its ‘all-risks’ insurance policy. The insurer denied coverage based on the policy’s electrical-currents exclusion, which excludes ‘loss caused by arcing or by electrical currents other than lightning.’ Disagreeing with this reading of the insurance policy, the municipality filed suit. The district court granted summary judgment to the insurer and the court of appeals affirmed.  On further review, we too affirm the district court. We find that the loss was indeed ‘caused by arcing.’ Therefore, it is excluded even though something else (i.e., the squirrel) triggered the arcing.  This is not a situation where two independent causes, one covered and one excluded, may have contributed to the loss.”


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