HKM Secures Favorable Appellate Decision on Behalf of Its Client

KnollmaierCaseyHKM trial attorney Casey Knollmaier recently obtained a favorable Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision on behalf of the firm's client, a major insurer. The circuit court initially granted HKM's motion for summary judgment in the case, finding HKM's client did not have a duty to defend or indemnify an insured under a commercial general liability policy, and the Wisconsin Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment decision.

The case involved a bank alleging a grain company's CFO committed various forms of misrepresentation by submitting materially false financial documents. The bank alleged that the materially false documents were submitted in furtherance of a scheme to obtain substantial loans and credit. The bank claimed that in absence of these misrepresentations, it would not have extended credit to the grain company and would not have ultimately suffered significant losses that resulted from it extending credit.

The grain company's CFO then appealed the circuit court's decision. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals agreed with the circuit court, concluding that the bank alleged pecuniary loss. The pecuniary loss did not amount to property damage caused by a specified occurrence, which is required to trigger coverage under the commercial general liability policy. As a result, HKM's client did not have a duty to defend or indemnify its insured. Furthermore, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals agreed that the acts giving rise to the claim – the various forms of misrepresentation – did not amount to Wisconsin's interpretation of an occurrence.   Despite the CFO's claim that he did not know he submitted incorrect financial information to the bank, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals held that giving information to another is a volitional act even if the actor made a mistake of fact and/or judgment while giving the information.

Casey Knollmaier is an attorney in HKM's Civil Litigation Group, focusing her practice primarily on products liability, insurance law, and civil litigation. She also has experience in business law, negotiations, property disputes, construction defect cases, and collections. Casey is licensed to practice in Minnesota and Wisconsin state courts, as well as the U.S. District Court of Wisconsin, Eastern and Western Districts.