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SMS Planting Co. v. Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. of Ark., Inc.

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

May 20, 2015

SMS PLANTING COMPANY d/b/a SMS FARMS, APPELLANT
v.
FARM BUREAU MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF ARKANSAS, INC.; STEPHEN D. SESSIONS; and STEVE SESSIONS, INC., APPELLEES

Editorial Note:

This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the printed official reporter.

APPEAL FROM THE DESHA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. CV 2010-215-1. HONORABLE ROBERT BYNUM GIBSON, JR., JUDGE.

Berry Law Firm, P.A., by: Russell D. Berry and Michelle L. Jacobs, for appellant.

Turner Law Firm P.A., by: Andy L. Turner and Ben C. Hall, for appellee Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Arkansas, Inc.

Cahoon & Smith, by: David W. Cahoon, for appellees Stephen D. Sessions and Steve Sessions, Inc.

OPINION

Page 715

PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge

This is an insurance-coverage case. SMS Planting Company brings this appeal from the order of the Desha County Circuit Court granting summary judgment to appellees Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Arkansas, Inc., and Stephen Sessions, SMS's insurance agent.[1] We hold that the circuit court erred in granting summary judgment to both Farm Bureau and Sessions.

I. Procedural History

SMS is a farming operation. It contacted Sessions about a crop-loss insurance policy. On September 7, 2009, Farm Bureau, through Sessions, issued an insurance policy to SMS for loss to its rice. The named-peril policy provided coverage for direct loss caused by, among other things, lightning or windstorms. The policy

Page 716

was issued for 157 days, beginning that same day.

At some unspecified point that September,[2] there was a loss of electrical power to SMS's four grain bins where its rice was stored. The power outage caused the aeration and drying system in SMS's grain bins to stop working.[3] Although there was no physical damage to the bins or the machinery, SMS believed that the outage was caused by a windstorm or lightning. The day after the power outage, SMS notified Sessions of the event and of its preliminary investigation of potential damage and staining to the rice in Bin 3.[4] Ultimately, SMS was unable to sell its rice for its contracted price because of the staining. When Farm Bureau denied SMS's claim for loss, SMS sued Farm Bureau for failure to pay the loss SMS sustained. Later, SMS amended its complaint to add Sessions as a defendant, alleging a ...


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