Smith v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co

In Smith v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 192 Wis. 2d 322, 332, 531 N.W.2d 376, 380 (Ct. App. 1995), an intoxicated Baumann took Smith's son snowmobiling without putting a helmet on him. Baumann crashed, and Smith's son died. Smith sued State Farm, which had issued Baumann's homeowner's policy. Although the policy excluded coverage for "bodily injury or property damage arising out of the ownership, maintenance, use ... of ... a snowmobile owned or operated by or rented or loaned to any insured", the circuit court denied summary judgment for State Farm, reasoning that Baumann's intoxication and failure to put a helmet on the child were independent concurrent causes of the death. Id. at 328, 531 N.W.2d at 379. The court of appeals reversed, concluding, "these acts are irrelevant without the operation of the snowmobile. Without the operation of the snowmobile ... the injury would not have occurred, intoxication and lack of a helmet notwithstanding." Id. at 332, 531 N.W.2d at 380.