Balvin v. Rain and Hail, LLC, No. 18-3018 (8th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Defendant appealed the district court's order vacating an arbitration award, contending that the district court did not properly defer to the arbitrator's decision. Plaintiff cross appealed. In this case, defendant issued a crop insurance policy to plaintiff, a South Dakota farmer, in 2015 and subsequently determined that the appraised value of plaintiff's crop exceeded his policy's guaranteed minimum crop production, denying his claim.
The Eighth Circuit held that the arbitrator did not exceed his powers because the dispute about the interpretation of "appraised value" was not even before the arbitrator. Furthermore, the arbitrator's findings supported the denial of plaintiff's claims on a different ground -- that he abandoned his crop -- despite plaintiff's argument to the contrary in his cross appeal. The court also held that, even if the arbitrator did exceed his powers by making a good farming practices determination, the error was harmless because he did not exceed his powers in denying plaintiff's claim based on the appraised value of plaintiff's crop. Accordingly, the court reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded to the district court to enter an order confirming the arbitration award.