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Christopher Goodman recently secured a victory in a first-party insurance claim arising out of a hailstorm to a townhome association in Minnesota. The insured discovered property damage two years after the hailstorm and on August 31, 2020—the last possible date to commence suit under the insurance policy—personal service was attempted on the insurer’s registered office in Pennsylvania. The registered office was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, and the pleadings were not served within two years of the date of loss. The next day, the pleadings were served via certified mail on the Minnesota Commissioner of Commerce, in compliance with the substitute-service procedure for out-of-state defendants set forth in Minnesota Statute § 45.028 (2020).

The insurer moved to dismiss arguing suit was not commenced within two years of the date of loss, as required under the suit-limitation clause in the insurance policy.  The insured argued the suit-limitation should not be enforced because the closure of the insurer’s registered office due to COVID-19 prevented timely service.  The district court concluded that substitute service under Minn. Stat. § 45.028 was always available as an inexpensive means to timely commence suit without running the risk that personal service on an out-of-state defendant would be unsuccessful, especially when service was attempted during a pandemic and on the last possible date.  Attorney Goodman successfully defended the dismissal on appeal, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Minnesota Supreme Court denied further review.

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Christopher L. Goodman

Christopher L. Goodman


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