IN High Court Upholds Dismissal of Insurance Case After Knightstown Fire

Indiana case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: insurance, statute of limitation.

Chistopher Groce and Tracey Groce v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co. and Michael A. Meek. IN insurance, statute of limitation

This was a negligence action by Chistopher and Tracey Groce against their insurance agent, Michael A. Meek, an agent for American Family Mutual Insurance Company. In 2007, their home in Knightstown, Indiana, was severely damaged by fire. They claimed that the insurance agent had failed, in 2003, to obtain replacement cost coverage.

They commenced their action in Madison County Circuit Court in 2009. The insurance agent moved to dismiss, arguing that the case was past the two-year statute of limitations. The Circuit Court, Judge Rudolph R. Pyle, III, agreed and dismissed the case. The plaintiffs then appealed to the Indiana Court of Appeals, which affirmed. The Indiana Supreme Court then agreed to hear the case, and issued its opinion on April 3, 2014. The Supreme Court affirmed the lower courts' rulings.

In so holding, it re-examined its 2008 holding in Filip v. Block, 879 N.E.2d 1076 (Ind. 2008). It held that the Filip case was still sound law, and required that the action be brought within two years after the policyholder could have discovered the alleged error through ordinary diligence. In this case, there had been several annual renewals over the years, and the court concluded that they could have discovered the alleged negligence in 2003. For that reason, any lawsuit should have been filed by 2005, and the lower court had correctly dismissed it.

No. 48S02-1307-CT-472 (Ind. April 3, 2014).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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