Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

SPRATLIN v. FEDERAL CROP INS. CORP.

June 15, 1987

William Spratlin, et al, Plaintiffs
v.
Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WOODS

 HENRY WOODS, U.S. District Judge

 Pending now is the motion for summary judgment of the defendant, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC), against the plaintiff, William G. Spratlin. For the reasons that follow the FCIC's motion is granted.

 The plaintiff, an insured of the FCIC, suffered a partial loss of his 1982 soybean crop for which he claims indemnity under his policy of crop insurance. The FCIC denies liability claiming that the plaintiff did not submit a timely written notice of loss as required by the terms of the policy. *fn1" This suit was originally commenced as an adversary proceeding within a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, No. HE-83-43F, AP 84-83, and was transferred to this court upon the plaintiff's motion made pursuant to 7 U.S.C. § 1508 (d).

 Under the relevant provisions of the plaintiff's crop insurance policy, the FCIC was required to indemnify the plaintiff only if written notice of loss was received not later than thirty (30) days following the end of the insurance period for Arkansas *fn2" which terminated on December 20, 1982. *fn3" Written notice of loss was not received, however, until February 9, 1983 -- more than thirty (30) days following the end of the insurance period. (Affidavit of Robert Fenton with attached letter from Agent Jim Doyle; Claim for Indemnity form marked Exhibit "B").

 The plaintiff does not contend that the FCIC was timely notified of the loss in writing but instead submits the affidavit of his wife, Anne Spratlin, which states that she "personally notified Doyle & Co. in Marianna, Arkansas" in mid-December of 1982. The plaintiffs' argument is that the FCIC had notice of the loss, that the FCIC paid other claims which were untimely filed and, therefore, the FCIC waived strict compliance with the contractual terms of the policy. (Complaint, paragraphs 6, 7). Because it is undisputed that a timely written notice of loss was not submitted as required by the policy, the plaintiff's waiver claim must state a valid legal theory for recovery in order to preclude summary judgment. It does not.

 The terms of the insurance contract which prescribe how and when notice of loss must be filed are clear and unambiguous. Moreover, subsection "f" of paragraph 7 provides that the FCIC may reject any claim for indemnity if those terms are not complied with; and the introductory paragraph of the insurance policy states that no term or condition of the policy shall be waived or changed except in writing by a duly authorized representative of the FCIC. No such written authorization has been alleged.

 Generally, an insurer is deemed to have waived the right to demand proof of loss by engaging in conduct that would lead the insured to reasonably believe that it need not be filed. However, if the insurer is an agency of the United States, the usual waiver doctrine does not apply and the courts have generally denied recovery to claimants who fail to file a proof of loss. *fn4" Williamsburgh Doll & Novelty Corp., Inc. v. Giuffrida, 560 F. Supp. 84 (E.D.N.Y. 1982); Felder v. Federal Crop Insurance Corp., 146 F.2d 638 (4th Cir. 1944); Mock v. United States, 183 F.2d 174 (10th Cir. 1950); United States v. Blackburn, 109 F. Supp. 319 (E.D. Mo. 1952); Byrne v. Federal Crop Insurance Corp., 289 F.Supp 873 (D.Minn. 1968). Equally damaging to the plaintiff, the applicable notice of loss provisions were published at 7 C.F.R. § 431.7 in addition to being printed in the insurance policy. Once published, the plaintiff was charged with legal notice of these rules and regulations regardless of the hardship resulting from innocent ignorance. Federal Crop Insurance Corp. v. Merrill, 332 U.S. 380, 385, 92 L. Ed. 10, 68 S. Ct. 1 (1947). The rule, harsh as it may sound, is that when one deals with the government, he is expected to know the law and may not rely on the conduct of government agents contrary to law. Heckler v. Community Health Services, 467 U.S. 51, 63, 81 L. Ed. 2d 42, 104 S. Ct. 2218 (1984) (citing Merrill, 332 U.S. at 384).

 Accordingly, the court finds that the FCIC did not waive the notice provisions of the insurance policy and that the plaintiff did not comply with same. There being no genuine issues of material fact in dispute, the court finds further that the defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law and that the plaintiff's complaint should be, and is hereby dismissed with prejudice.

 IT IS SO ORDERED this 15th day of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.