S.D. Public Assurance Alliance v. Aurora CountyAnnotate this Case
The South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance (SDPAA), a local government risk pool, negotiated with Aurora County to provide what was essentially insurance coverage. After coverage was finalized, a local dairy farm sued the County over a pre-existing zoning dispute. The County was found liable for damages. SDPAA then sought a declaration that it did not have a duty to defend or indemnify, arguing, inter alia, that the County failed to disclose material facts relating to the claim. In a jury trial, the circuit court excluded as parol evidence the parties' pre-contract communications regarding coverage for zoning issues, including communications that could be interpreted as having disclosed the dairy farm zoning dispute. The jury found for SDPAA. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial, holding that because the excluded coverage communications were not offered to alter or contradict any written terms of the agreement, their admission would not have violated the parol evidence rule.