In this marriage dissolution dispute, appellant-wife argues that the district court (1) abused its discretion by awarding husband permanent spousal maintenance; (2) erred by making a finding of fact purportedly ordering the parties to submit possible future disputes regarding personal property to binding arbitration; and (3) should have specified that the property equalizer be paid from pre-tax retirement funds. While we conclude that the district court failed to make the findings of fact necessary to support its decisions related to the maintenance award and the property equalization payment, we also conclude that any error made by including a finding of fact purportedly referring possible future disputes to binding arbitration is harmless.
Sunlight Senior Living I, LLC v. Sunlight Senior Living, Inc., et al. – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of September 19, 2022
In the year following the purchase of a senior-living facility and property for $17 million, buyer-appellant believed that competing senior-living facilities—which buyer understood as being limited by the restrictive covenants in the sale agreement with seller-respondents—began poaching residents and staff from its facility. Buyer-appellant sued seller-respondents and the competing senior-living facilities and their operators under the theory that sellers had a duty to tell the other parties that the sale agreement restricted them from contacting residents and staff of buyer’s facility. Buyer asserted claims for breach of contract, tortious interference, and misappropriation of confidential information. Sellers filed motions to dismiss for judgment on the pleadings and moved for summary judgment. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of sellers on all claims. Buyer appealed.
Appellant-mother challenges the district court’s order denying her motion to enforce a neutral custody evaluator’s parenting-time recommendations. She argues that the district court erred when it determined that the recommended changes would amount to a de facto modification of physical custody.
Joseph Figliuzzi created a trust for holding wetland credits worth $2.6 million. Because of a family dispute, Figliuzzi sought to hold these credits in his own name rather than in the trust. After Figliuzzi’s death, Gina Bicknell, one of Figliuzzi’s daughters, filed an “Interim Petition to Confirm the Legal Status of Non-Probate Assets” that sought to confirm that the trust, and not her father, owned the credits. The petition also sought to establish a constructive trust over the disputed credits. The district court concluded that Figliuzzi owned the credits at the time of his death and denied the petition to create a constructive trust. Bicknell appealed. The court of appeals then dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that the order regarding ownership of the credits was not immediately appealable under Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 103.03(g), and that the issue regarding the constructive trust was moot. On appeal to our court, Bicknell asserts that the court of appeals erred by dismissing the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction.
In re the Margaret A. Flolid Trust Agreement dated December 12, 1994 – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of August 29, 2022
Appellant-attorneys challenge the district court’s award of sanctions against them and in favor of respondent/cross-appellant. We determine that the district court abused its discretion by granting sanctions against appellants and we reverse that portion of the district court’s order. Based on this determination, we reject respondent/cross-appellant’s argument that the district court should have awarded greater sanctions against appellants. And we affirm the district court’s denial of sanctions against attorneys’ client. Finally, we remand to the district court with instructions to release the funds held on deposit to appellants.
Marjory Gail Thomas Osborn-Vincent was an unnamed class member in an action settled in the District of Minnesota involving alleged misrepresentations made by the defendants while marketing, selling, administering, and servicing various life insurance and annuity products. After Osborn-Vincent died in March 2016, her Estate commenced an action in Oregon asserting various contract, fraud, and elder abuse claims pertaining to Osborn-Vincent’s 1989 purchase of a purported “single-premium universal life insurance policy.” Her Estate alleges that beginning in 2010, the defendants started charging monthly premiums and costs that eventually led to the depletion of the policy’s funds, which ultimately caused it to lapse. The district court granted the defendants’ motion to enforce the settlement agreement and enjoined the Estate from pursuing the Oregon claims. In a prior appeal, this Court found personal jurisdiction lacking because the defendants had not served the party they sought to enjoin (the Estate’s personal representative), nor had they moved to substitute the personal representative as a party. On remand, the district court addressed the Court’s concerns and granted the defendants’ motion to substitute Richard Osborn as the Estate’s personal representative, denied the Estate’s motion to dismiss, and granted the defendants’ motion to enforce the settlement agreement. The Estate again appeals, contending the district court erred by making insufficient and erroneous findings relating to jurisdiction and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(a), by misapplying the facts and circumstances when it enforced the settlement agreement and enjoined the Estate from pursuing claims in Oregon, and by declining to apply the equitable doctrines of laches and unclean hands.
Maslowski v. Prospect Funding Partners, LLC, et al. v. Schwebel, et al. – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of June 27, 2022
1. A litigation financier has unconscionably interfered in the underlying legal claim that is the subject of the financier’s litigation-financing agreement with the contracting litigant if that agreement contains obligations that seek to control the litigant’s ability to select counsel or to settle the underlying legal claim. 2. A litigation-financing agreement is a transaction subject to the usury statute.
This case asks us to determine whether the district court erred by applying the endangerment standard of the child-custody modification statute, Minn. Stat. § 518.18(d)(iv) (2020), to a noncustodial parent’s motion for joint legal custody of the parties’ child based on their prior stipulation to apply the statutory best-interests standard, as permitted by Minn. Stat. § 518.18(d)(i) (2020). Minnesota Statutes section 518.18(d) (2020) generally provides that to modify a prior custody order, the court must find a change in circumstances of the child or parties, that modification would serve the child’s best interests, and that one of the five additional grounds for modification listed in Minn. Stat. § 518.18(d)(i)-(v) is met. Here, the noncustodial parent’s modification motion was expressly predicated on section 518.18(d)(i), which provides that the statutory best-interests standard set forth at Minn. Stat. § 518.17 (2020) applies if the parties previously agreed in a court-approved writing to the application of that standard. The district court instead found that the noncustodial parent failed to establish a prima facie case for a change in custody based on the statutory endangerment standard in section 518.18(d)(iv) and therefore was not entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his motion for custody modification. The noncustodial parent challenged the district court’s order, and the court of appeals affirmed.
Respondent Ellen Marie Budzynski moved the district court to enforce the obligations of her former spouse, appellant Mark David Plucinski, to pay spousal maintenance and to maintain life insurance securing his maintenance obligation; respondent also sought reimbursement of her attorney fees. Appellant brought a countermotion seeking to terminate his maintenance obligation. The district court issued an order deciding both motions. It denied appellant’s motion to terminate maintenance, but it did reduce the maintenance obligation. It granted respondent’s motion to enforce appellant’s obligations and awarded respondent conduct-based attorney fees. Appellant challenges the district court’s order, arguing that the district court should have terminated his obligation and should not have awarded conduct-based attorney fees.
In this appeal from a final judgment and decree awarding permanent spousal maintenance, appellant first argues the district court abused its discretion because it awarded spousal maintenance in an amount that exceeded respondent’s reasonable expenses. Second, appellant argues the district court abused its discretion by awarding respondent $25,000 in need-based attorney fees and $5,000 in conduct-based attorney fees.
Appellant Kathryn Charlene Brown appeals from the district court’s judgment and decree dissolving her marriage to respondent Robert Thomas Brown, arguing that the district court abused its discretion by making an inequitable division of marital property.
In this post-dissolution action, appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion in terminating respondent’s spousal maintenance obligation and in finding the amount of respondent’s 401(k) plan to which appellant was entitled under the dissolution judgment.
Vermillion State Bank v. Tennis Sanitation, LLC – Minnesota Supreme Court Decision of February 2, 2022
This case asks us to decide, among other issues, whether an oral hybrid contract for the sale of goods and intangible non-goods is subject to our predominant purpose test—the test used to determine whether the provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) or the common law govern the contract as a whole. Appellant Tennis Sanitation, LLC (Tennis) repudiated an alleged oral contract it negotiated with respondent Vermillion State Bank (Vermillion) for its purchase of certain assets of a trash collection business in bankruptcy, which included tangible assets such as garbage trucks and intangible assets such as customer routes. Vermillion, after selling the assets to another company at a significantly lesser price following Tennis’s repudiation, sued Tennis for breach of contract, seeking monetary relief.
Willow Run Partners v. Paul Overson, et al. – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of January 31, 2022
Appellant Willow Run Partners (WRP) developed a subsidized apartment complex in Willmar, Minnesota, under a now-discontinued federal program. WRP sold the apartment complex project in 2016. In a related, prior action brought just before the closing of the sale, plaintiffs claiming to be WRP general partners sued WRP, its managing general partner, and others involved in the operation of WRP, alleging mismanagement of WRP and claiming an interest in the sale proceeds. Following the resolution of that case, WRP filed the present action against several of the parties to the prior action, their attorneys, a court-appointed receiver, and the receiver’s attorney.
Appellants challenge the district court’s denial of summary judgment in this personal-injury case, arguing that they are entitled to official immunity.
Mary Skarsten-Dinerman v. Milton Skarsten Living Trust – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of December 27, 2021
Appellant challenges the district court’s order denying her petition for modification of a trust and her request for costs, expenses, and attorney fees. Appellant, a beneficiary of the trust, sought to modify the trust to allow the immediate sale or distribution of the trust’s real property assets. The district court denied the petition, finding the proposed modification to be inconsistent with a material purpose of the trust. Appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion by denying her petition to modify the trust, erred by failing to consider extrinsic evidence related to the settlor’s intent, and abused its discretion by denying her request to recover costs, expenses, and attorney fees from the trust.
Appellant-wife challenges the termination of her spousal maintenance award and the award of conduct-based attorney fees to respondent-husband; by cross-appeal, he challenges the requirement that he pay past and future withholding fees for child support.
Appellant challenges the dismissal of his complaint seeking damages for breach of contract resulting from the sale of a commercial property in 2014.
Erica Lindquist appeals an order granting Mark Anderson’s motion to modify physical placement of the parties’ minor children. Lindquist argues the circuit court erred by determining that the last order substantially affecting physical placement was the parties’ July 2017 divorce judgment, rather than a subsequent order entered in August 2018 that permitted Lindquist to move to Minnesota and exercise physical placement there. In the alternative, Lindquist argues that even if the July 2017 divorce judgment was the last order substantially affecting physical placement, Anderson failed to establish that a substantial change in circumstances had occurred since that time. Finally, Lindquist argues that the court erroneously exercised its discretion by determining that Anderson’s proposed modification of physical placement would be in the children’s best interest.
Respondent King’s Cove Marina (King’s Cove) brought an action against defendant Lambert Commercial Construction (Lambert) alleging construction defects. After entering into a Miller-Shugart settlement agreement with Lambert, King’s Cove filed a supplemental complaint for garnishment against Lambert’s commercial general liability insurer. The district court granted Lambert partial summary judgment on coverage and approved the Miller-Shugart settlement. This court reversed the district court’s summary judgment decision on coverage and on the reasonableness of the Miller-Shugart settlement agreement and did not, therefore, reach the remaining issues. The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed our coverage decision, reversed our Miller-Shugart decision and, instead, adopted a two-step inquiry for determining the reasonableness of unallocated Miller-Shugart settlement agreements. The supreme court remanded to this court for consideration of the remaining issues on appeal.
Bella Vista Condominium Ass’n, et al. v. Western National Mut. Ins. Co. – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of September 13, 2021
In this appeal from the district court’s grant of summary judgment to respondent insurer, appellant-claimant argues that the district court erred by granting summary judgment on the ground that an agreement between appellant and a third-party contractor was an unenforceable Miller-Shugart agreement.
Courtney Godfrey sued State Farm Fire and Casualty Company and the Government Employers Insurance Company for liability coverage after she was injured on her husband’s boat.
In this contentious marital-dissolution dispute, appellant-husband and respondent-wife challenge multiple aspects of the district court’s dissolution decree relating to the division of marital property, spousal maintenance, and the award of need-based and conduct-based attorney fees. Appellant also challenges the district court’s denial of his post-judgment motion and related award of conduct-based attorney fees to wife.
Jordan Morsette appeals from an amended judgment ordering him to pay $242 million in compensatory damages and $885 million in punitive damages to Shayna Monson; Lee Zander, individually and on behalf of Taylor Goven, deceased; and Jason Renschler, individually and on behalf of Abby Renschler, deceased (Plaintiffs). Morsette argues the district court erred in admitting evidence of his intoxication , erred in its instructions to the jury, and erred by granting the Plaintiffs’ motion to amend their complaint to add a
punitive damages claim. Morsette also argues the jury’s verdict was excessive.
This case requires us to determine whether a commercial general liability insurance policy, which includes coverage for the “products-completed operations hazard,” covers property damage to the insured’s own completed work, notwithstanding an exclusion for property damage arising out of the insured’s work. We also consider whether a Miller-Shugart settlement agreement1 that fails to allocate between claims that are covered and not covered by the insurance policy is per se unreasonable and unenforceable against the insurer.
Three venture-capital partners threatened to sue a fourth partner over his use of funds from the partnership to benefit himself and his accounting firm. After the disputing factions attempted to negotiate a settlement but failed to produce a signed agreement, the three partners sued the fourth to enforce a settlement agreement that they said could be extrapolated from their email exchanges. The district court entered summary judgment favoring the three, concluding that the email communications constituted an agreement. We hold that the record viewed in the light most favorable to the fourth partner could support a finding that the negotiating parties agreed to be bound only by a settlement agreement that was reduced to a signed writing.
Estate of Marjory Thomas Osborn-Vincent v. American Express Financial Corporation, et al. – Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Decision of February 4, 2021
Marjory Gail Thomas Osborn-Vincent was a member of a class certified in the District of Minnesota. The action involved alleged misrepresentations made by defendants while marketing, selling, administering, and servicing various life insurance and annuity products. A settlement agreement approved by the court in 2001 contained a release which applied to, in relevant part, “all Class Members, on behalf of themselves and their respective heirs, executors, administrators, [and] successors” and covered conduct that included “any and all past or present” claims that “are based upon, related to, or connected with, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part,” the facts and allegations underlying the lawsuit. The court retained jurisdiction to enforce the settlement agreement. After Osborn-Vincent died in 2016, her Estate brought suit in Oregon asserting various fraud claims against defendants based on Osborn-Vincent’s purchase of a life insurance policy. Defendants moved the district court in Minnesota to enforce the settlement agreement and enjoin the Estate of Osborn-Vincent from pursuing its claims in Oregon on the ground that Osborn-Vincent waived the claims as part of the settlement agreement.
Wat Lao Sirithammaram, et al. v. Mark Vinath Saythong, et al. – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of February 1, 2021
On appeal arising from a dispute over control of a religious nonprofit corporation, appellants assert that the district court erred by (1) denying their motion for a continuance of trial following a change in counsel; (2) making a number of erroneous findings of fact and conclusions of law following a bench trial; (3) failing to consider additional defenses raised in pleadings and other proceedings; and (4) denying their post-trial motions. Appellants also assert that respondents’ claims are barred by the doctrines of res judicata, collateral estoppel, actual and apparent authority, and laches.
In this marriage dissolution appeal, appellant asserts that the district court made the following three errors: (1) the district court erred by finding that respondent’s efforts did not contribute to the appreciation in value of one of respondent’s non-marital business interests; (2) the district court made unsupported factual findings concerning spousal maintenance; and (3) the district court failed to invade respondent’s non-marital property.
David Steinke appeals a summary judgment dismissing his lawsuit against Scott R. Poppe, Scott’s Septic Pumping, LLC, and State Farm Fire and Casualty Company ( collectively, “Poppe”). Steinke argues the circuit court erred by concluding, as a matter of law, that after pumping Steinke’s septic tank, Poppe did not have a duty to warn Steinke about the poor condition of the septic tank’s cover or to take other action to prevent Steinke from falling through the cover into the tank.
Vermillion State Bank v. Tennis Sanitation, LLC – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of June 29, 2020
This case involves the existence of an oral contract between appellant Tennis Sanitation, LLC, managed by brothers G.T. and W.T., and respondent Vermillion State Bank, whose president was J.P. In September 2017. Respondent sued appellant for breach of contract, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, and promissory estoppel, which stemmed from an alleged agreement between the parties for respondent to buy another company’s assets for appellant.
In October 2019, appellant-wife Kimberly Ann Sobiech and respondent-husband Mark Joseph Sobiech got into a verbal and physical dispute in their kitchen. Wife drove to a police station and filed an incident report. The officer observed that wife had marks on her wrist and neck. Police officers went to the house, spoke with husband, and arrested husband. The next day, wife petitioned the court for an OFP and requested that the district court grant ex parte relief. The district court granted an ex parte OFP and scheduled a hearing. The district court heard testimony from eight witnesses, including wife, husband, and two police officers. Wife and husband provided conflicting testimony about whether and how much wife punched husband and whether husband grabbed wife by the neck or shirt collar when he moved her from the garage to the kitchen. The district court received exhibits of pictures depicting wife’s and husband’s injuries from the altercation. The district court also received as exhibits husband’s phone recording of the altercation and husband’s statement to police.
Appellant, the mother of the parties’ child, argues that the district court abused its discretion in setting the parenting-time schedule; erred in awarding joint custody after finding that (1) respondent, the father, had committed domestic abuse without addressing whether the statutory presumption against joint custody in cases where domestic abuse has occurred had been rebutted and (2) none of the best-interest factors supported respondent having custody; and erred in calculating child support.
1. Because a “judicial hearing,” within the meaning of Minn. Stat. § 257.75, subd. 2 (2018), took place when the district court considered appellant’s ex parte motion for temporary relief and issued such relief, respondent’s revocation of a recognition of parentage is invalid. Appellant is therefore entitled to notice of the adoption-petition hearing under Minn. Stat. § 259.49, subd. 1(b)(7) (2018), and Minn. Stat. § 259.52, subd. 8 (2018), does not bar his paternity action. 2. Because an adoption proceeding was not pending when the child’s mother and father signed a recognition of parentage, Minn. Stat. § 259.52, subd. 8, did not bar appellant from signing the recognition of parentage.
In re the Supervised Estate of William J. DeFore – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of May 18, 2020
Decedent William DeFore’s surviving spouse attempted to claim her spousal elective share, filing a document captioned, “Written Statement of Claim,” rather than the statutorily named, “petition for the elective share.” For the next year and a half, the district court treated the document as if it were a petition for elective share, as did the parties, who engaged in discovery to prepare to try the question of the amount of the elective share. But the district court then granted an heir’s motion to treat the document as invalid and to effectively foreclose any elective-share allocation based on the document’s misnaming and a purported failure to notify an interested party of the election. Because the district court treated the document as if it were properly named and the parties likewise took substantial litigation steps treating the document as if it were properly named, we hold that the document adequately informed the court and the parties that the surviving spouse was seeking her elective share. And because the hearing-notice requirement is not required to perfect a petition for elective share, we hold that the petition satisfied the applicable statutory requirements.
In this dissolution matter, husband argues that the district court (1) made findings of fact that are not supported by the record, (2) chose an incorrect valuation date, (3) misvalued property, (4) failed to recognize his nonmarital interests in certain assets, (5) should have invaded wife’s nonmarital property to accomplish an equitable property division, and (6) should have awarded him attorney fees.
This dispute arises from the sale of two business condominium units in a building with a leaky roof. In this appeal following a court trial, appellants challenge the district court’s decision granting relief to respondent on its misrepresentation claim. Because the district court erred as a matter of law by sua sponte granting a new trial, we reverse.
This appeal arises out of a Miller-Shugart settlement agreement between respondent King’s Cove Marina LLC and defendant Lambert Commercial Construction LLC, and a subsequent garnishment action filed by the marina against Lambert’s insurance company, appellant United Fire & Casualty Company. The district court granted partial summary judgment in the marina’s favor on coverage issues and approved the Miller-Shugart settlement agreement. On appeal, United Fire argues that the district court erred by granting partial summary judgment in the marina’s favor on coverage issues and by approving the Miller-Shugart settlement agreement. Because an applicable policy exclusion limits Lambert’s coverage and the Miller-Shugart settlement agreement failed to allocate between covered and non-covered damages, the agreement is unreasonable as a matter of law.
Appellant/husband challenges the denial of his motion to modify spousal maintenance based on wife’s increased income and decreased needs. At the time of the dissolution, husband earned approximately $410,000 a year. Respondent/wife had not worked outside the home since the child’s birth, but a vocational assessment determined she had the capacity to earn $30,000 per year. The judgment awards wife permanent spousal maintenance of $9,000 per month. In early 2018, a stipulated cost-of-living adjustment increased monthly maintenance to $9,753.28. In May 2018, husband moved to reduce his maintenance obligation. He asserted a substantial change in circumstances due to wife’s full-time employment as a school paraprofessional, her increased income from investments, her decreased living expenses, and the child’s emancipation. The district court denied the motion following a hearing. The district court found that wife’s employment income is “about $18,318.86 per year or $1,526.57 per month.” The court concluded that neither wife’s income from employment nor decreased need constituted a substantial change of circumstances to support modification. Husband appeals.
Father moved to Ohio in 2016 to take a new job. Mother also moved to Ohio with the children as part of a cooperative arrangement for father and mother to continue raising the children as joint custodians. On January 2, 2018, father filed a petition in Ohio to register the Minnesota custody decree. In March of 2018, while father’s petition to register the decree was pending, father returned to Minnesota; mother remained in Ohio with the children. The Ohio court confirmed registration of the custody decree on April 12, 2018. On April 25, 2018, mother filed a motion in Ohio asking that the Ohio court modify the custody decree. On August 3, 2018, father filed his own motion in Minnesota seeking to modify the custody decree. Mother filed a responsive motion in the Minnesota case, arguing that Minnesota lacks subject matter jurisdiction, and arguing in the alternative that Minnesota is an inconvenient forum. The Minnesota district court issued its order on father’s motion on November 9, 2018. It determined that Minnesota no longer has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction and that mother’s pending motion in Ohio precluded father’s later-filed motion in Minnesota. Father’s motion was dismissed. The district court did not rule on mother’s inconvenient forum argument.
KK-Five Corporation v. Groveland Terrace Condominium Owners’ Association – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of September 30, 2019
On appeal from the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of respondent condominium association, appellant commercial condominium owner argues that the district court erred by concluding that appellant does not have an exclusive right to the use of 15 parking spaces during business hours as established by an express easement.
Appellant/mother, Nicole Marie Edwards, challenges the district court’s award of additional parenting time to respondent/father, Christopher Michael Edwards, arguing that the increase in parenting time constitutes a de facto custody modification and, therefore, Minn. Stat. § 518.18(d)(iv) (2018) applies to the motion.
Mahmoud and Amanda Sharaf divorced in 2017. Mahmoud now appeals from the divorce judgment, as well as from a post-divorce order clarifying the judgment. Mahmoud argues that the circuit court erred, in several respects, in its interpretation of the parties’ prenuptial agreement (the Agreement). Mahmoud also argues that the court erroneously exercised its discretion in setting his child support obligation. Amanda cross-appeals from the judgment and order. She argues that the circuit court erroneously exercised its discretion in determining the placement schedule for the parties’ minor children.
When an adverse party requests the appointment of a guardian ad litem for a party who is not an infant and has never been adjudicated as incompetent, rule 17.02 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure entitles the party to notice and an opportunity for a hearing before a guardian ad litem is appointed.
In this appeal from judgment following a court trial in a family business dispute, appellant argues that the district court erred by (1) finding that, as chief executive officer, appellant had no authority to terminate another officer; (2) enjoining appellant from exercising executive authority without special-master approval; (3) finding that appellant did not have a reasonable expectation to remain CEO for as long as he wished; and (4) finding that changing the number and identity of the board of directors does not require unanimous consent.
Appellant challenges the dismissal of his paternity action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. He argues that Minn. Stat. § 259.52, subd. 8 (2018), does not bar his paternity action or, in the alternative, that it is unconstitutional.
Meyer Contracting, Inc. v. Graham Construction Services, Inc. – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of June 17, 2019
In these consolidated appeals arising from a commercial-construction dispute, appellant-general contractor challenges the district court’s grant of judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) to respondent-subcontractor on its prompt-payment claim under Minn. Stat. § 337.10, subd. 3 (2018); an award of attorney fees and interest; and the denial of appellant’s claims for attorney fees, interest, and costs.
On August 24, 2017, plaintiffs Thongdee Pongmalee, Inthong Keodouangdy, Sengaloun Sayoudone, Christina Vilay, May Vilay, Bonavahn Neukircher, and other unnamed persons involved in the formation and operation of appellant Wat Lao Sirithammaram temple (Wat Lao), filed a summons and complaint against Wat Lao, alleging claims that are not relevant to this appeal. On August 29, 2017, Wat Lao served a document entitled “notice of intent to seek sanctions.” The document stated that Wat Lao would move the district court “by a stand alone separate motion, to seek sanctions against Defendants [sic] and counsel pursuant to Rule 11 and § 549.211, in the event that said Plaintiffs do not dismiss their pretended cause of action in this matter within 21 days of this notice.” The alleged sanctionable conduct was never corrected. In early February 2018, the district court dismissed the underlying matter without prejudice. In July 2018, Wat Lao served and filed a notice of motion and motion for sanctions on the same day. In August 2018, the district court held a hearing on the motion. The district court denied Wat Lao’s motion, concluding that, by filing and serving its motion on the same day, Wat Lao had failed to comply with the 21-day safe-harbor provisions of Minn. R. Civ. P. 11.03(a)(1) and Minn. Stat. § 549.211, subd. 4(a). Appellant challenges the district court’s denial of its motion for sanctions, arguing that its notice of intent to seek sanctions complied with and satisfied the safe-harbor provisions of Minn. Stat. § 549.211 (2018) and Minn. R. Civ. P. 11.
Appellant Kenneth Lloyd Morris challenges the dismissal of his complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, arguing that the complaint states a claim for violations of the Minnesota Limited Liability Company Act (MLLCA), Minn. Stat. §§ 322B.01-.975 (2014). Morris and appellant-attorneys David Jones and Roger Stahl also challenge the award of attorney fees.
Lauri Sue Browning and Daniel H. Gruenstein were married for approximately 18 years before their marriage was dissolved. In the dissolution decree, the district court ordered Gruenstein to pay permanent spousal maintenance to Browning. After Gruenstein started a new job in Chicago and relocated there, he moved to modify the spousal-maintenance award. The district court denied the motion, reasoning that there was a substantial change in circumstances but that the change did not render the existing spousal-maintenance award unreasonable and unfair. We conclude that the district court erred in some of its findings concerning Gruenstein’s income and expenses and that, in light of those erroneous findings, the district court must reconsider whether the existing spousal-maintenance obligation is unreasonable and unfair. We also conclude that the district court erred by awarding need-based attorney fees in light of our resolution of Gruenstein’s arguments concerning his income and expenses. We conclude, however, that the district court did not err by awarding conduct-based attorney fees to Browning. Therefore, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.
John Doe 123, et al. v. Peter Hoagland, et al. – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of August 20, 2018
In these consolidated appeals, appellants challenge the district court’s summary dismissal of their negligence-based claims against respondent corporation, as well as the district court’s award of costs and disbursements to respondent corporation. Appellants also challenge the district court’s award of costs and disbursements to respondent-insurer in its declaratory-judgment action to determine its coverage obligations to respondent corporation.
Appellants challenge the district court’s denial of their motion to compel arbitration.
In this spousal-maintenance dispute, appellant-husband challenges the district court’s grant of permanent spousal maintenance to respondent-wife, arguing (1) that the district court abused its discretion in awarding maintenance based on an equalization of the parties’ incomes and not based on wife’s need or on the parties’ standard of living during their marriage and (2) that the district court should not have required husband to secure the maintenance award by naming wife as a beneficiary on his life-insurance policies.
Appellant challenges the judgment granted to respondent after a court trial on appellant’s claims of breach of fiduciary duty and misrepresentation by omission, arguing that the record does not support the district court’s findings that respondent’s breaches of fiduciary duty did not cause appellant’s damages and that appellant did not rely on respondent’s omissions.
Appellant Robbie Michael Kremer appeals from a district court order invalidating an antenuptial agreement he entered into with his then-fiancée, respondent Michelle Beth Kremer. The antenuptial agreement contained provisions concerning the disposition of both marital and nonmarital property upon dissolution or death. The district court held that, under Minn. Stat. § 519.11 (2016), the agreement was procedurally unfair because Michelle did not have an adequate opportunity to consult with an attorney. The court of appeals affirmed—holding that the agreement was procedurally unfair—but applied the common-law test for procedural fairness from In re Estate of Kinney, 733 N.W.2d 118 (Minn. 2007). Robbie petitioned for review, arguing that section 519.11 applied to the agreement and that the statute’s procedural conditions were satisfied because both parties engaged in full and fair financial disclosure, and both parties had an opportunity to consult with an attorney.
Appellants challenge the district court’s denial of their motion for judgment as a matter of law, new trial, or remittitur on the grounds that the jury’s awards for past medical expenses, future medical expenses, and pain and suffering were not supported by sufficient competent evidence.
Appellants William Buskey, et al. (the Buskeys) brought claims against respondent American Legion Post #270 (American Legion) under the Civil Damages Act for damages allegedly arising out of the death of Mary Jo Meyer-Buskey in an automobile accident caused by a drunk driver. (1) The plain language of the actual-notice provision of the Civil Damages Act, Minnesota Statutes section 340A.802, subdivision 2 (2016), requires “[a]ctual notice of sufficient facts” to put the licensee on inquiry notice of “a possible claim,” and does not require actual notice of a possible claim. (2) The actual-notice provision in Minnesota Statutes section 340A.802, subdivision 2, requires only notice of “sufficient facts,” and does not prescribe notice of certain indispensable facts. (3) Under principles of agency law, notice to a licensee’s liquor-liability attorney satisfies the actual-notice provision in Minnesota Statutes section 340A.802, subdivision 2. (4) Drawing all reasonable inferences about actual notice in favor of appellants, we conclude that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to respondent.
Appellant-husband challenges the district court’s order requiring him to pay taxes on the transfer of his ownership interest in a New York condominium to respondent-wife. The transfer is required under the terms of the parties’ stipulated marital-dissolution judgment and decree. Husband argues that wife is required to pay the transfer taxes under an indemnification provision in the judgment and decree.
1. When determining whether a petitioning taxpayer has produced evidence sufficient to overcome the statutory presumption that a property tax assessment is valid, the tax court may consider only the evidence presented by the taxpayer.
2. The tax court did not abuse its discretion in denying the County’s motion to dismiss by holding, in the alternative, that the evidence presented by the taxpayer overcame the statutory presumption.
Affirmed. Justice David L. Lillehaug.
1. Multiple acts by the same lawyer may give rise to separate claims for legal malpractice. To determine when multiple acts by the same lawyer are independent acts of negligence, a fact-specific approach should be used that may include weighing whether the plaintiff’s position was significantly worsened, whether the subsequent act involved the same type of conduct, whether the acts occurred at different times and during different transactions, whether the subsequent act was connected by a causal link to the first, and whether the subsequent act explicitly relied on the continued validity of the prior work.
2. The loss of an opportunity to control one’s assets satisfies the “some damage” requirement for accrual of a legal-malpractice claim.
Reversed and remanded. Justice Natalie E. Hudson.
Dissenting, Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea and Justice G. Barry Anderson.
Neither Minnesota law nor the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5401-5426 (2012) preempts a local or municipal authority from enforcing zoning, subdivision, architectural, or aesthetic codes applicable to manufactured home parks, provided that they do not involve construction or safety standards related to manufactured housing.
Laura Rapp and Empire Fire and Marine Insurance Company appeal a summary judgment requiring payment on a personal representative’s bond based on Rapp’s failure to fulfill her duties as personal representative of the Estate of Laurence Berg. We conclude the undisputed facts show that Rapp failed to comply with the probate court’s orders and otherwise committed maladministration while acting as personal representative.
In this marital dissolution action, appellant/husband challenges the district court’s property division, maintenance, and security decisions. By notice of related appeal, respondent/wife argues that the district court abused its discretion by failing to take taxes into account when setting her maintenance award and by ordering her to pay all of the homestead costs pending sale of the homestead.
Appellant argues that the district court erred by miscalculating the spousal maintenance amount, establishing a payment schedule for a property equalizer, vacating the parties’ stipulation that appellant receive all of his restricted stock units, and granting respondent need-based attorney fees.
After dissolving their marriage, appellant and respondent agreed to share joint legal and physical custody of their children. Their agreement was reflected in a 2012 judgment and decree. In 2013, the district court issued a series of orders granting respondent “temporary” sole physical custody of the children. More than a year later, appellant moved to “reinstate” joint custody, but the district court denied her motion in a March 2015 order. Appellant appealed the March 2015 order. The court of appeals determined that it had appellate jurisdiction and affirmed the order.
If a spousal-maintenance award is disputed, a recipient of the disputed award can preserve any right to a biennial cost-of-living adjustment under Minnesota Statutes section 518A.75 (2016) by sending notice of the adjustment to the obligor and, if the obligor contests the adjustment, asking the district court to hold in abeyance the question of whether to grant the adjustment.
Sinuon and Lawrence Leiendecker sued the nonprofit organization Asian Women United of Minnesota (AWUM), alleging that two of AWUM’s previous lawsuits against them constituted malicious prosecution. AWUM sought immunity under Minnesota’s anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law, which permits parties to move for dismissal of a lawsuit on the ground that a claim against them relates to an act involving public participation. After we clarified the law’s procedure, the district court ruled that the section of the law that governs motions “to dispose of a judicial claim,” Minn. Stat. § 554.02, subdivision 1, violated the Leiendeckers’ right to a jury trial by requiring the trial judge to find facts. Id., subd. 2(3) (requiring “the court” to make findings). AWUM appealed to the court of appeals, then petitioned this court for accelerated review.
Teresa Marie Nordahl and Steven Edward Nordahl were married for approximately 25 years before their marriage was dissolved. The district court awarded Teresa temporary spousal maintenance of $2,500 per month for a period of approximately 12 years. The district court also awarded Teresa need-based attorney fees.
Appellant Lawrence James Cisek, Jr., appeals from the district court’s award of permanent spousal maintenance to respondent Laura Diane Hermer, its division of the parties’ marital assets, and its determination that appellant’s child-support obligation to the mother of appellant’s children born of a previous marriage is a nonmarital debt.
Appellant challenges the district court’s dismissal of her complaint for failure to comply with the one-year filing requirement of Minn. R. Civ. P. 5.04 and denial of relief under Minn. R. Civ. P. 60.02, arguing that the district court erred by concluding that attorney neglect in failing to comply with Minn. R. Civ. P. 5.04 could not constitute excusable neglect and that she did not act with due diligence.
In this family-law case, appellant husband challenges the district court’s order declaring invalid the antenuptial agreement he executed with respondent wife. Husband also challenges the district court’s subsequent order awarding wife (1) $750,000 as her share of marital property, (2) temporary rehabilitative and permanent spousal maintenance, and (3) need-based attorney fees.The procedural fairness of an antenuptial agreement that covers or includes marital property is assessed under the common law, using the multifactor test outlined in In re Estate of Kinney, 733 N.W.2d 118 (Minn. 2007).
Appellant-husband Kraig Rucker challenges an Olmsted County District Court’s judgment in the marriage-dissolution proceeding between appellant and respondent-wife Kathleen Rucker. Appellant argues on appeal that the district court (1) abused its discretion by granting sole physical and sole legal custody of the parties’ children to respondent and limiting his parenting time; (2) abused its discretion by denying appellant a downward deviation from the presumptively appropriate guideline child-support obligation; (3) abused its discretion by denying appellant spousal maintenance; (4) abused its discretion by denying appellant’s non-marital property claim; and (5) erred in construing an in vitro fertilization consent form to award respondent the parties’ cryopreserved embryos.
Respondent Jerry Expose, Jr. brought a civil action against appellant Thad Wilderson & Associates, P.A. (the clinic) and appellant Nina Mattson (collectively appellants), asserting claims for unlawful disclosure of health records under the Minnesota Health Records Act, §§ 144.291-.298 (2014), invasion of privacy, vicarious liability, and negligent supervision. Appellants jointly moved for judgment on the pleadings, and the district court dismissed the claims. As relevant here, the district court ruled that appellants are immune from liability under Minn. Stat. § 148.975 (2014), that they are immune from liability under the common law doctrine of absolute privilege, and that Expose consented to Mattson’s disclosures. The court of appeals reversed on all of these issues except the immunity under the common law doctrine of absolute privilege as to the testimony from the criminal trial. We granted the clinic’s petition, as well as Mattson’s petition, for review. The three questions presented in the appeal arise in the context of a relationship between a patient and an unlicensed intern-therapist. First, we determine whether Minn. Stat. § 148.975, which imposes a duty to warn on a licensed therapist when a specific, serious threat of physical violence is made against a specific, clearly identified or identifiable person, imposes the same duty on an unlicensed intern-therapist to disclose that information to law enforcement. Second, we determine whether the common law doctrine of absolute privilege shields the disclosures made by an unlicensed intern-therapist to law enforcement and to prosecutors. Third, we determine whether a consent form notifying a client of the client’s rights under the Minnesota Health Records Act authorizes the release of the client’s medical records.
Appellants Katherine A. Gruett and Gary L. Gruett challenge the district court’s imposition of frivolous-litigant sanctions under Minnesota General Rule of Practice 9. This case arises out of a protracted family dispute involving commercial real estate. Appellants are the daughter and son-in-law of respondent Victoria B. Labriola and John Labriola Sr. Appellants and John Labriola Sr. each held a one-half interest in commercial property. Victoria Labriola inherited this interest following her husband’s death. Victoria Labriola also held unpaid promissory notes from appellants. In 2006, Victoria Labriola and appellants entered into a loan agreement governing the repayment of the promissory notes.
In this case, we are asked to decide whether Minn. R. Civ. P. 60.02 applies to a Minn. R. Civ. P. 5.04(a) “deemed” dismissal, and whether such a dismissal violates procedural due process. The district court concluded that Rule 60.02 is inapplicable to a dismissal under Rule 5.04(a) or, alternatively, that respondent Ferdinand Leo Gams, Jr. failed to establish all four requirements for relief under Rule 60.02, see Finden v. Klaas, 268 Minn. 268, 128 N.W.2d 748 (1964). The court of appeals reversed and remanded for reconsideration, rejecting the district court’s conclusions that Rule 60.02 was inapplicable and that all four Finden prongs must be established in order for relief to be warranted. Gams v. Houghton, 869 N.W.2d 60, 61 (Minn. App. 2015).
The question presented in this case is whether counsel’s mistake about the applicability of a procedural rule is sufficient, by itself, to deny relief under Minn. R. Civ. P. 60.02. The district court denied respondent Jerry Wayne Cole’s Rule 60.02 motion concluding that Cole’s counsel’s admitted “ignorance of the law” could not constitute “excusable neglect” under the rule. The court of appeals reversed and concluded that Cole was entitled to relief under Rule 60.02. Cole v. Wutzke, 868 N.W.2d 925, 928-30 (Minn. App. 2015).
Glenwood State Bank v. Golden West LLC, et al. – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of August 15, 2016
These consolidated cases come before us on appeal after years of litigation primarily between Glenwood State Bank and Peterson Earth Movers Inc. (PEM), PEM’s principal, LaVern “Bud” Peterson, JBI LLC, JBI’s principal Curtis Trude, and Golden West LLC, and Golden West’s principal LaDon Peterson. The instigating transaction was a defaulted loan from Glenwood to PEM guaranteed by Bud. PEM and Bud confessed to the default in 2010, and Glenwood obtained a judgment against them. But when the bank tried to repossess PEM’s earthmoving equipment and other property in 2011, Trude and his company JBI sued Glenwood claiming that JBI and Trude owned the property, not PEM. The bank filed a counterclaim against JBI and Trude, alleging several common law causes of action and that JBI acquired PEM’s equipment fraudulently in violation of the Minnesota Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (MUFTA). The bank also filed a third-party complaint against PEM and Bud, and against Bud’s brother, LaDon, and his company, Golden West LLC, alleging that they assisted and conspired in hiding PEM’s assets from the bank. The district court entered a default judgment against JBI and Trude for repeated discovery violations. PEM and Bud became subject to a default judgment after they failed to answer and avoided direct involvement with the litigation, but in March 2015 they moved for relief from the judgment. The district court tried Golden West and LaDon’s claims in a bench trial, and it found in Glenwood’s favor and held Golden West and LaDon liable for the initial judgment plus attorneys’ fees, costs, and interest.
Appellant-father appeals from the consensual special magistrate’s rulings concerning custody, father’s request to relocate the children to Chicago, spousal maintenance, child support, and conduct-based attorney fees.
(1) The phrase “in use” in Minn. Stat. § 514.011, subd. 4c (2014), refers to both active and passive uses of land in existence at the time a mechanic’s lien attaches. (2) The real property in this case was not in agricultural use and was wholly or partially nonresidential in use at the time the mechanic’s lien attached, so no pre-lien notice was required under Minn. Stat. § 514.011, subd. 4c(c). (3) Under Minn. Stat. § 514.09 (2014), a mechanic’s lien claimant who performs work for the owner pursuant to a contract is not precluded from filing a blanket lien and then spreading the value of the lien on a pro rata basis against the whole area improved.
We affirm the district court’s order granting respondents’ motion to dismiss appellant Joseph W. Frederick’s legal-malpractice claims as barred by the six-year statute of limitations (SOL) because the district court did not err in determining that respondent attorney and her law firm did not commit separate acts of malpractice from 2007 through 2011, which would have tolled the limitations period. We further affirm because Frederick’s claims do not involve separate negligent acts and he did not set forth sufficient facts to establish that respondents concealed the cause of action.
Appellant challenges the district court’s denial of his motion for sole physical custody of his minor son, arguing that the district court erred by (1) considering the wrong standard in determining physical custody and (2) considering only one factor of the best interests of the child analysis to the exclusion of all others. Respondent challenges the district court’s grant of appellant’s motion for sole legal custody and award of attorney fees, arguing that the district court erred by (1) failing to limit its award of sole legal custody to only matters pertaining to the minor child’s health and (2) failing to make findings sufficient to award conduct-based attorney fees.
This case is an insurance dispute between Addison Insurance Company and West Bend Mutual Insurance Company. The dispute arose when an employee of Badger State Auto Auction, Inc. (BSAA) injured the plaintiffs while driving a vehicle it was preparing to auction off for Fairview Auto, Inc. Addison insures Fairview and West Bend insures BSAA. The primary issue is whether Fairview’s policy with Addison covered the accident. The circuit court concluded it did, resting in part on the conclusion that the BSAA driver was acting as Fairview’s agent at the time of the accident.
Appellant challenges the rule-12 dismissal of her claims, arguing that they are properly pleaded and timely. Respondents appeal the district court’s denial of their motion for rule-11 sanctions.
In the Matter of the RIJ Revocable Trust Agreement – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of July 11, 2016
Appellant, the daughter of a deceased trust settlor, challenges the district court’s conclusion that the settlor’s revocation of the trust was void and its judgment against appellant in favor of respondent, the settlor’s ex-wife. Respondent challenges the prejudgment award of costs and the denial of her motion to amend her application for costs; she also moves to strike parts or all of appellant’s briefs.
Appellant challenges several aspects of the judgment dissolving her marriage on whether the district court abused its discretion by setting an incorrect valuation date for the marital and real-property assets, by awarding insufficient spousal maintenance, by declining to order life-insurance coverage to secure respondent’s maintenance obligation, and by denying appellant need-based attorney fees.
The district court treated respondents’ motion as a motion for summary judgment. The district court granted summary judgment and dismissed all of Excel’s claims with prejudice.Excel argues that the district court erred by converting respondents’ motion to dismiss under rule 12 into a summary-judgment motion under rule 56.
Fern Hill Place Retail Association v. Fern Hill Place Homeowners Association – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of April 18, 2016
Appellant retail association challenges the district court’s denial of its motion to vacate an arbitration award, arguing that the arbitrator exceeded the scope of his power, there was no agreement to arbitrate, and the arbitration was conducted without proper notice.
Appellant Newman-Lakka Cancer Foundation challenges the district court’s dismissal of its defamation lawsuit after concluding that respondent Christine E. Briggs, a resident of Massachusetts, is not subject to the personal jurisdiction of Minnesota’s courts. Appellant also argues that the district court abused its discretion in denying appellant’s request for jurisdictional discovery before dismissing the complaint on jurisdictional grounds.
In this appeal from the denial of a motion to dismiss for insufficiency of process, the Minnesota Supreme Court considers the question of whether a summons and complaint signed by an attorney licensed outside the state of Minnesota are legal nullities, or whether the defective signature may be cured. In the related conditional cross-appeal, the Court considers whether the district court erred in granting a motion to dismiss as to several defendants for insufficiency of service.
In the Matter of the Estate of Mitzi Olson – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of December 7, 2015
Appellant challenges the district court’s order affirming the personal representatives’ apportionment of estate taxes under decedent’s will. By notice of related appeal, respondent personal representatives assert that the district court erred when it concluded that appellant’s petition for declaratory relief was timely.
Appellant Minnwest Bank challenges the damages award in favor of respondent RTB, LLC, arguing that the district court erred in (1) calculating diminution-in-value damages; (2) awarding ancillary damages for mortgage interest, property taxes, and maintenance expenses; and (3) determining the accrual date for prejudgment interest. Minnwest requests that we reverse the damages award and remand on the issue of prejudgment interest.
In this post-dissolution dispute regarding whether the husband’s disability benefits are included in the parties’ agreement to divide “retirement assets,” appellant-husband James Allen Ertl (husband) challenges the district court’s division of his disability benefits and the district court’s award of additional funds from husband’s retirement account to respondent-wife Diane Martha Ertl (wife). Issues: 1) Parties’ written agreement to limit division of property in marriage-dissolution action to husband’s “retirement benefits” is narrowly construed and does not include a presumptive award of “disability benefits” unless clearly set out in the dissolution judgment. 2) A district court deprives a litigant of due process of law by modifying a marriage-dissolution judgment and decree without providing litigant with notice or a meaningful opportunity to respond.
A district court abuses its discretion by ordering the entry of judgment in an action deemed dismissed for noncompliance with Minn. R. Civ. P. 5.04(a) if the plaintiff has established a basis for relief under Minn. R. Civ. P. 60.02. Appellant challenges the district court’s judgment of dismissal of his personal-injury action for noncompliance with Minn. R. Civ. P. 5.04(a), which requires actions to be filed within one year of service.
Appellant’s personal injury action was dismissed pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. P. 5.04(a) because it was filed in district court more than one year after the action was commenced by service. The district court denied appellant’s request for relief under Minn. R. Civ. P. 60.02, concluding that such relief from a judgment of dismissal under rule 5.04(a) is not available and, alternatively, that appellant failed to “prove all four elements” for rule-60.02 relief even if such relief were to be considered available.
Appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion by awarding respondent permanent maintenance and in calculating the amount of maintenance and his income.
We reverse and remand the district court’s grant of summary judgment to respondent because appellant raised genuine issues of material fact regarding whether its 2007 lien-foreclosure action would have been successful but-for the negligence of its attorney. In the interests of judicial economy, we affirm the district court’s analysis in its alternative holding, challenged in respondents’ related appeal, that appellant raised genuine issues of material fact precluding summary judgment regarding whether its 2010 settlement agreement precluded its malpractice suit.
In this appeal from a judgment following a jury verdict for damages arising out of an automobile accident, appellant argues that the district court erred by giving a misleading jury instruction and denying his motion for a new trial.
On appeal from an amended judgment and decree in a dissolution action, appellant-husband challenges the district court’s increase of his spousal maintenance obligation and the retroactive award of increased maintenance. On related appeal, respondent-wife challenges the district court’s designation of certain assets as husband’s nonmarital property, its denial of her claims that husband improperly disposed of marital assets, and its denial of her requests for permanent maintenance and attorney fees.
The district court held a bifurcated trial on breach of contract and unjustenrichment claims. After the jury found there was no oral contract between the parties, the district court concluded that appellant had been unjustly enriched in the amount of $1,267,814.
Appellant-trustee challenges the district court’s dismissal of this wrongful-death medical-malpractice action arising out of her sister’s death from cancer contracted from a donated organ. Appellant asserts that the district court erred by determining as a matter of law that it was not foreseeable that the decedent would contract cancer from a transplanted organ and thus that respondent-doctor did not breach the standard of care, and that the alleged breach was not the proximate cause of the decedent’s death.
Leiendecker v. Asian Women United of Minnesota, et al. – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of December 15, 2014
On remand from the Minnesota Supreme Court, the Minnesota Court of Appeals was directed to address whether Asian Women United of Minnesota, et al. (AWUM) made a threshold showing that the claims asserted against them by the Leiendeckers materially relate to acts involving public participation under the anti-SLAPP statute.
In this appeal from judgment following a jury trial in a negligence action, appellant challenges the district court’s denial of his pretrial motion for summary judgment. He argues that respondent’s negligence claim arose from respondent’s performance under the parties’ timber-sale contract and that the claim is barred under a provision in the contract.
On appeal from dismissal of her medical-malpractice action, appellant argues that the district court erred in determining that Minnesota Statute § 145.682, subd. 6(c) (2012), governing the filing of affidavits of expert disclosure, is subject to the filing deadlines set forth in rule of general practice 115.03.
1. When a party’s motion for attorney fees under Minn. Stat. § 518.14, subd. 1 (2012), is pending upon dismissal of a divorce action, that party’s right to seek contribution for attorney fees from the opposing party continues and may be asserted by the party’s attorney. 2. Minn. Stat. § 518.14, subd. 1, does not permit a court to award conduct based attorney fees against an attorney for a party in a divorce proceeding.
In this appeal from a marital-dissolution judgment, appellant argues that the district court failed to comply with this court’s remand instructions following the first appeal and abused its discretion by awarding spousal maintenance and attorney fees to respondent.
Leiendecker v. Asian Women United of Minnesota, et al. – Minnesota Supreme Court Decision of June 25, 2014
For the past 10 years, respondents Sinuon Leiendecker and her husband Lawrence Leiendecker have been embroiled in litigation with appellant Asian Women United of Minnesota (“AWUM”), a nonprofit organization that Sinuon once directed and for which Lawrence, an attorney, once did pro bono work. In this case, the fifth in a series of lawsuits between the parties, the Leiendeckers contend that AWUM and the other defendants committed various torts by suing the Leiendeckers in the past. In response, AWUM sought dismissal under Minnesota’s anti-SLAPP statutes, Minn. Stat. §§ 554.01-.05 (2012), which include a procedure for citizens and organizations to seek dismissal of lawsuits that deter them from exercising their right to participate in government. The district court denied AWUM’s motion, concluding that the allegations in the Leiendeckers’ complaint were sufficient to defeat the motion. The court of appeals affirmed.
Appellant-landowners challenge the district court’s summary-judgment dismissal of their cross-claim for attorney fees against respondent-bank incurred in connection with a lawsuit brought by previous landowners against appellants and respondent.
Scott Johnson, guardian ad litem for minor H.T.P., appeals the district court’s adverse grant of summary judgment in this products liability case. The district court excluded the testimony of Johnson’s expert and accordingly entered judgment in favor of Mead Johnson (Mead). The district court also assessed costs in the amount of $18,442 against Johnson.
Under the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), Minn. Stat. §§ 325L.01–.19 (2012), an electronic signature in an e-mail message does not necessarily evidence intent to electronically sign a document attached to the e-mail. Whether a sender has electronically signed an attached document depends on the circumstances, including whether the attached document itself contains the sender’s electronic signature and whether the attached document was intended to be a draft or final version.
Builders Development & Finance v. Vern Reynolds Construction – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of May 12, 2014
This case involves the value of stock that secured a now-defaulted loan between two businesses. Construction company borrowed money from lender and secured its loan with its share in another company. Construction company defaulted, lender arranged to sell its security interest in the collateral company to a buyer company, and the district court declared the sale to be reasonable after construction company failed to challenge it. Construction company and its principal sued to stop the sale, alleging that the lender and the buyer company fraudulently underestimated the collateral company’s value and that the construction company’s failure to challenge the sale was merely excusable neglect. The lender defended the district court’s judgment declaring that the sale was reasonable and sought attorney fees for its effort. The district court agreed with the lender and refused to vacate its judgment, but it disagreed that the lender was entitled to attorney fees for defending the judgment.
In this spousal-maintenance dispute, appellant-husband argues that the district court abused its discretion by: (1) awarding respondent-wife $19,500 per month in permanent spousal maintenance; (2) ordering him to secure his spousal-maintenance obligation with a $1 million life insurance policy; (3) awarding him almost all of the marital debt and respondent all of the proceeds from the sale of the parties’ homes; and (4) awarding respondent need- and conduct-based attorney fees.
Southcross, LLC v. Meridius Company, LLC and Paul Nesburg – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of March 17, 2014
Appellant challenges the district court’s determination that he is liable to respondent under a personal lease guaranty, arguing that when the tenant whose performance he originally guaranteed was released from the lease, his personal liability ended. Because the lease guaranty is ambiguous and the district court’s factual determination that the parties did not intend to release appellant from his guaranty obligations is not clearly erroneous, we affirm.
Because appellant failed to show a change in circumstances rendering the 2008 temporary spousal maintenance award unreasonable and unfair, we affirm the district court judgment denying his motions to permanently extend the award. We affirm the district court’s denial of appellant’s motion to strike expert reports or grant a continuance because respondent’s late identification of experts was due to appellant’s delayed statement of the specific basis for his modification motion. Finally, appellant also failed to demonstrate an inability to pay his own attorney fees, and we affirm the denial of a fee award.
In re the Matter of the RIJ Revocable Trust Agreement – Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision of February 24, 2014
Appellant challenges the district court’s orders denying her motion to dismiss respondent’s petition in this trust matter, arguing that the district court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over the damages claims in the petition and personal jurisdiction over appellant. She also argues that respondent lacked standing to assert a claim under the trust for spousal-maintenance-related obligations after the settlor’s death.
Novus Franchising, Inc. v. Dawson, et al. – Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Decision of August 5, 2013
This is a dispute over an automotive glass repair franchise located in Richmond, Virginia. Novus Franchising, Inc. (Novus) appeals the district court’s refusal to enforce a non-compete clause against franchisee Michael L. Dawson as part of a preliminary injunction which prohibits Dawson from using Novus’s marks and products in his automotive glass repair business. The district court dismissed Dawson’s corporation, CarMike, Inc., from the suit after concluding Novus failed to allege sufficient facts for a Minnesota court to exercise personal jurisdiction over the Virginia corporation; the district court also gave Dawson an extension of time in which to file an answer. In addition to challenging the scope of the injunctive relief granted by the district court, Novus appeals these two other aspects of the district court’s order.
On appeal in this child-support- and spousal-maintenance-modification dispute, appellant-mother argues that the district court (1) should have applied the doctrine of collateral estoppel to preclude relitigation of the child-support and spousal-maintenance modification to the extent that respondent-father’s current motion was based on issues decided in his prior motion; (2) misread the underlying support award, thereby misidentifying the baseline circumstances against which claims of substantially changed circumstances should properly be measured; and (3) should not have allowed the failure to achieve certain circumstances expected by the parties to satisfy the requirement of substantially changed circumstances.
In a medical malpractice action, a patient may recover damages when a physician’s negligence causes the patient to lose a chance of recovery or survival. The district court erred in ruling that plaintiffs’ expert testimony failed as a matter of law to establish a prima facie case of causation.
1. Under Minn. Stat. § 518A.30 (2012), when determining child support, a parent’s income from self-employment or operation of a business includes the parent’s income from joint ownership of a closely-held subchapter S corporation. To calculate a parent’s income under section 518A.30, the district court must identify the corporation’s gross receipts, cost of goods sold, and ordinary and necessary expenses, regardless of whether corporate funds have been distributed or are available to the parent. 2. After calculating the presumptive child-support obligation, the district court must, pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 518A.43, subd. 1 (2012), consider all of the circumstances and resources of each parent in setting the final child-support obligation, and may rely on the unavailability of funds included in gross income in departing from the presumption.
Appellants defaulted on two promissory notes that were secured by a mortgage on real property and guaranteed by Appellant’s chief manager. The district court entered summary judgment for the lender after concluding, as a matter of law, that Appellant was in default on its obligation to repay the notes, that Appellant had breached a term of the mortgage by giving another lender a mortgage encumbering the same real property, and that Appellant’s chief manager is liable on his personal guaranty of the notes.
This appeal concerns the terms of a trust that was created to provide for the grantor’s wife after his death. Since the grantor’s death, his widow has received all income produced by the trust and limited distributions of trust principal. The trustee has denied her requests for additional distributions of principal. In addition, the trustee has denied her requests to convert non-income-producing property to income-producing property.
When one parent relocates to another state before the district court has made a final custody determination, and where that relocation was necessarily addressed in the district court’s custody decree, the district court is not required to determine whether the parent’s relocation is in the child’s best interests under Minn. Stat. § 518.175, subd. 3 (2012), because (1) that statute only applies when a parent decides to relocate after the final decree has been filed, and (2) the impact of the parent’s relocation on the child is implicit in the best-interests factors that the district court is required to apply in making a custody determination under Minn. Stat. § 518.17, subd. 1(a) (2012).
1. An endorsement in a subcontractor’s insurance policy making a contractor an additional insured for liability “caused by the acts or omissions” of the subcontractor limits the additional insured’s coverage to instances of vicarious liability for the subcontractor’s negligence. 2. A contractual indemnification provision in a construction contract obligating a subcontractor to indemnify another party for damages not caused by the subcontractor’s fault, unaccompanied by either a coextensive insurance agreement or a proper allegation under Minn. Stat. § 337.05, subd. 2 (2012), that the promisor has failed to procure the required insurance, violates Minn. Stat. § 337.02 (2012).
Appellant United Fire & Casualty Company (United Fire) challenges the district court’s grant of summary judgment to respondents Jonathon Schupp and Northern Pine Lodge, Inc. United Fire contends that the district court improperly nullified an automobile exclusion in Northern Pine Lodge’s commercial general liability insurance policy after erroneously determining that United Fire failed to comply with Minnesota law when renewing the lodge’s policy.
Appellants challenge the district court’s summary-judgment dismissal of their claim for uninsured motorist coverage under a policy issued by respondent, arguing that the farm tractor with which they collided was an uninsured “motor vehicle” within the meaning of their policy and, alternatively, that they are entitled to coverage under the reasonable-expectations doctrine.
Appellants challenge the district court’s award of summary judgment to respondent bank and respondent purchasers of appellants’ farm. The district court rejected appellants’ (1) challenge to the foreclosure proceeding, (2) claim for damages and equitable relief for bank’s failure to comply with the notice requirements of Minn. Stat. § 500.245 (2010), and (3) claims that purchasers violated Minn. Stat. § 504B.365 (2010) and converted appellants’ personal property left on the foreclosed property. Because there are no genuine issues of material fact concerning service of the foreclosure action and appellants’ claims regarding personal property, we affirm summary judgment on those claims.
In consolidated appeals from a mechanic’s-lien action, appellants challenge the district court’s grant of default judgments against them as a sanction for their failure to attend a pretrial conference and the district court’s denial of their motions to vacate those judgments. Because respondents did not demonstrate prejudice in allowing this action to proceed and the district court did not consider a less severe sanction before entering default judgment against pro se appellants, we conclude that the district court abused its discretion by granting the default judgments.
McClelland v. Life Insurance Company of North America – Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Decision of May 24, 2012
Life Insurance Company of North America (LINA) appeals the district court’s ruling that LINA abused its discretion in denying death benefits to Dawn McClelland based upon her husband Anthony’s life insurance policy. LINA also appeals the district court’s award of attorney fees.
Distributions from a Subchapter S corporation to a shareholder, to be transferred by the shareholder to another business entity, are not the shareholder’s income for child support purposes when the distributions and transfer occurred to further the corporation’s legitimate business purposes and were not to be used by the shareholder. Similarly, distributions made to a shareholder by a Subchapter S corporation solely to cover the shareholder’s share of the tax liability on the corporation’s retained earnings are business expenses that should not be included as gross income when calculating the shareholder’s child support.
This negligence action arose out of injuries sustained by respondent Christopher John Daly while snowmobiling with appellant Zachary John McFarland and two other friends. Appellant argues that the district court erred in (1) denying his motion for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) based on respondent’s assumption of risk; (2) declining to instruct the jury on the emergency rule; and (3) reconciling the jury’s inconsistent responses to the special verdict interrogatories.
In this home-sale dispute, appellant-seller argues that the district court (1) erred in ruling that appellant’s violation of Minn. Stat. § 513.55 (2010), which addresses the disclosure a home seller must execute, constituted an intentional tort and required appellant to pay 100% of the damages, despite being found only 13% at fault; and (2) should have granted appellant judgment as a matter of law when respondents failed to present adequate proof of damages.
Appellant challenges the district court’s dismissal of its contribution and indemnity claims under Minn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(e), arguing that the district court erred in determining that appellant’s third-party complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Appellant also challenges the district court’s imposition of sanctions against appellant’s counsel under Minn. Stat. § 549.211 (2010) and Minn. R. Civ. P. 11.
Respondent-lender sued appellant-borrowers for defaulting on the parties’ loan agreement. Appellants challenge the district court’s granting of summary judgment in respondent’s favor, contending (1) genuine disputes of material fact preclude summary judgment and (2) the district court abused its discretion by denying their motions for a continuance and reconsideration.
Appellants challenge the district court’s order on priority of distribution of settlement proceeds in this action, arguing that the district court erred in holding that the garnishment action of one appellant’s judgment creditor has priority over appellant law firm’s attorney lien and applies to non-marital assets of the judgment debtor’s spouse.
This case involves a mortgage “flipping” scheme. Appellants’ construction company, and personal guarantors of mortgage-related note, challenge the district court’s summary judgment in favor of respondent’s closing agent and title-insurance company on appellants’ claims for breach of fiduciary duty, failure to disclose material information, vicarious liability and breach of contract.
In dissolving the parties’ four-year marriage, the district court ruled that the parties’ entire premarital agreement (PMA) was unenforceable and awarded respondent Jennifer Igo $60,000 in costs and attorney fees, despite inclusion in the parties’ PMA of a severability clause and a provision requiring the parties to pay their own costs and attorney fees in the event of a marital dissolution. On appeal, appellant Richard Igo argues that the district court (1) erred by failing to consider the effectiveness of the severability clause when it determined that the entire PMA was unenforceable; (2) abused its discretion by awarding respondent attorney fees without identifying the extent to which the award was need-based or conduct-based; and (3) abused its discretion by imposing a continuing monetary sanction against appellant for his failure to turn over eleven vehicles to respondent as required by the original decree.
In this marital-dissolution appeal, appellant-obligee Mark Edward Clyma argues he should have received a larger share of marital property, a larger, permanent spousal-maintenance award, and additional need-based attorney fees. Respondent-obligor Tracy Joan Van Steenburgh challenges the existing awards of maintenance and attorney fees.
Petition for Instructions to Construe Basic Resolution 876 – Minnesota Supreme Court Decision of September 10, 2009
The district court’s orders regarding Basic Resolution 876 are void because the district court lacked in rem jurisdiction over the revenue bonds.
Appellant sued several drug manufacturers after she was diagnosed with hormone-dependent breast cancer following years of hormone-replacement therapy. The district court awarded summary judgment to respondents Pfizer, Inc., Pharmacia & Upjohn Co., LLC, and Greenstone, Ltd. based on appellant‟s failure to raise a genuine issue of material fact regarding her claimed ingestion of drugs manufactured by these respondents. After holding that appellant‟s proffered specific-causation evidence does not satisfy the Frye-Mack standard and that appellant‟s experts are not qualified under Minn. R. Evid. 702, the district court awarded summary judgment to Wyeth, Inc. and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
On appeal in this spousal maintenance dispute, appellant-husband argues that the district court‟s spousal maintenance award was an abuse of discretion and the district court miscalculated the equalizer payment.
Kevin Rains sued his employer, BNSF Railway Company, under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act for injuries he suffered from falling while inspecting a train stopped on a bridge. The district court granted summary judgment for BNSF after finding no evidence that BNSF’s negligence caused Rains’s fall and injuries. Rains appeals.
The Minnesota Supreme Court has directed the Minnesota Court of Appeals on remand to address the district court’s summary judgment order concluding that two securities offerings issued by appellants were integrated and thus not exempt from registration under Minnesota law.
On appeal from dismissal after remand of appellants’ claims for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and restitution, appellants argue that the district court erred in dismissing their claims because expert testimony is not required to present a prima facie case for breach of contract or for breach of fiduciary duty, and that if either claim is reinstated, the restitution claim must also be reinstated. Appellants also contend that the district court abused its discretion in refusing to consider appellants’ motion to amend their complaint.
1. Federal law does not preempt state registration requirements with respect to securities that purport to be, but are not in fact, federal covered securities. 2. A securities offer need not result in a sale in order to be integrated under Minn. Stat. § 80A.15, subd. 2(h)(10) (2006), and Rule 502 of Regulation D, 17 C.F.R. § 230.502 (2007).
The Minnesota State Supreme Court today ruled that, in a failure to diagnosis cancer case, the statute of limitations (SOL) begins at the point when, looking at the unique circumstances of the particular case, “some compensable damage occurred as a result of the alleged negligent diagnosis.” After reviewing the particular facts of the case at hand, the court ruled in the case of Margaret MacRae v. Group Health Plan, et al., that the statute of limitations had not run before Mrs. MacRae brought the lawsuit alleging that her husband had died because of the failure to diagnose the cancer. MacRae died on August 26, 2005 and a medical malpractice lawsuit was brought in 2006. The defendants had won a ruling in a lower court that the four-year statute of limitations had begun in January of 2001, the date when the physician wrongly told Mr. MacRae his lesion was not cancer.
Respondent, the Port Authority of the City of St. Paul, lacking sufficient funds to pay the interest and principal owed to its bondholders, petitioned the district court for an instruction approving its plan to liquidate the repayment fund and discharge a percentage of its debt to all bondholders. Appellants, holders of the bonds with early experiation dates, moved the district court to dismiss respondent’s petition for an instruction on the ground of lack of subject matter jurisdiction and to appoint a receiver; they also moved to vacate district court orders issued in response to respondent’s petitions for instructions in 2002 and 2004. Appellants now challenge the denial of their motions.
1. Answers to interrogatories that identify the plaintiff’s expert witnesses but do not describe their opinions on the standard of care, how the defendants deviated from that standard, or how that deviation caused injury to the plaintiff are not sufficient to constitute the affidavit of expert disclosure that, under Minn. Stat. § 544.42, subd. 2 (2006), must be served in a professional negligence or malpractice action within 180 days after the action was commenced. 2.(a) For purposes of the doctrine of res judicata, the finality of a judgment that has been entered in the district court is not suspended by an appeal. 2.(b) Where the elements of res judicata are not present, the defense of claim splitting may support an abatement of a second complaint, but not a dismissal with prejudice.