November 18, 2015
Country Mutual Insurance Company, Plaintiff - Appellee: Mark
S. Brown, Stephen M. Warner, Arthur & Chapman, Minneapolis,
Eric J. Orloske, Destiny A. Denton, as trustee for the heirs
and next of kin of Brian S. Orloske, Defendants - Appellants:
Amanda E. Prutzman, Thomas John Weidner, Eckberg & Lammers,
SMITH, BYE, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.
Orloske shot his brother, Brian, to death after Eric tripped
and fell down the stairs in his home while holding a loaded
shotgun. Destiny A. Denton, the trustee for Brian's next
of kin, sued Eric for the wrongful death of Brian. Country
Mutual Insurance Company (" Country Mutual" ) filed
this declaratory judgment action against Eric and Denton
(collectively, " Trustee" ) in the district
court to establish that its homeowner's
policy, which covered Eric's home, did not provide
coverage for Brian's death. The district court granted
summary judgment to Country Mutual. The court concluded that
there was no coverage because Eric had pleaded guilty to
manslaughter for Brian's death and the insurance policy
excluded coverage for criminal acts. The Trustee appeals,
arguing that Minnesota's reasonable-expectations doctrine
should invalidate the
criminal-acts provision in the policy. We affirm.
review the facts in the light most favorable to the Trustee
as the nonmoving party. Reed v. City of St. Charles,
Mo., 561 F.3d 788, 790 (8th Cir. 2009). On the night of
the shooting, Eric and Brian spent the evening together in
Eric's home drinking heavily. Due to intoxication,
Brian's behavior became increasingly rowdy and
unreasonable. Eric's efforts to get Brian to calm down or
leave failed. Eric made the unfortunate decision to retrieve
his shotgun from the upstairs bedroom and brandish it to
scare Brian into compliance. Eric did not know that the gun
was loaded. As Eric proceeded down the stairs with the gun,
he tripped and the gun discharged, killing Brian.
pleaded guilty to second degree manslaughter for Brian's
death. Denton sought wrongful-death damages in a tort action
against Eric on behalf of Brian's next of kin, and she
obtained an arbitration award against Eric. Protectively,
Country Mutual filed this declaratory judgment action to
establish that its policy provided no coverage for Eric's
liability in the death of his brother. Country Mutual denied
coverage on the basis of the criminal-acts exclusion in
Eric's policy. That exclusion provides the following:
9. Criminal Acts
" Bodily injury" or " property damage"
arising from any criminal act. Criminal act means any act or
omission which is criminal in nature or for which a penal
statute or ordinance permits or requires any term of
imprisonment or sentence of public service duties. This
exclusion applies regardless of whether any "
insured" is actually charged with or convicted of a
crime and regardless of whether any " insured"
subjectively intended the " bodily ...