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Atwater Creamery Company v. Western National Mutual Insurance Company

Minnesota Supreme Court
366 N.W.2d 271 (1985)


Atwater Creamery Company (Atwater) (plaintiff) was a creamery and a supplier of farm chemicals in Minnesota. Atwater was insured against burglary for $20,000 by Western National Mutual Insurance Company (Western) (defendant) under a Merchantile Open Stock Burglary Policy (policy). The definition of burglary in the policy required that there be “evidence of forcible entry.” Between April 9 and April 11, 1977, chemicals worth $15,586.40 were stolen from an Atwater building during a burglary. Two of three storage-bin doors were open, and the doors’ padlocks were missing. The turnbuckles on one of the doors had been loosened. Following the burglary, Atwater filed a claim with Western under the policy. Western denied the claim because there was no evidence of forcible entry as required by the policy. Although Western’s insurance agent testified that he had told Atwater that the policy included a forcible-entry requirement, none of the members of the Atwater board of directors remembered being told about this requirement or reading the policy in full. Atwater filed suit against Western for the $15,586.40 loss and for $7,500 in business losses, costs, disbursements, and attorney’s fees. The trial court ordered judgment in favor of Western. Atwater appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Wahl, J.)

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