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Natasha Reiger appealed a district court judgment granting primary residential responsibility of J.Z. to Matthew Zuraff. Social services first became involved with the family because of a positive methamphetamine screening when J.Z. was born. Both Zuraff and Reiger had a history of methamphetamine use, although Reiger testified to being sober for approximately ten months and Zuraff testified he was sober for over three years. Both parents had criminal histories related to drug use, and Zuraff was incarcerated for approximately seven months after J.Z. was born. The North Dakota social worker assigned to J.Z. declined to recommend who should be awarded primary residential responsibility, but noted Zuraff was previously the more appropriate and stable option. After review of the district court record, the North Dakota Supreme Court determined the district court did not abuse its discretion granting primary residential responsibility to Zuraff. View "Zuraff v. Reiger" on Justia Law

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Natasha Reiger appealed a district court judgment granting primary residential responsibility of J.Z. to Matthew Zuraff. Social services first became involved with the family because of a positive methamphetamine screening when J.Z. was born. Both Zuraff and Reiger had a history of methamphetamine use, although Reiger testified to being sober for approximately ten months and Zuraff testified he was sober for over three years. Both parents had criminal histories related to drug use, and Zuraff was incarcerated for approximately seven months after J.Z. was born. The North Dakota social worker assigned to J.Z. declined to recommend who should be awarded primary residential responsibility, but noted Zuraff was previously the more appropriate and stable option. After review of the district court record, the North Dakota Supreme Court determined the district court did not abuse its discretion granting primary residential responsibility to Zuraff. View "Zuraff v. Reiger" on Justia Law

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Christopher Johnson appealed an amended judgment ordering him to pay $1,280 per month in child support. Heather Thompson cross-appealed the judgment denying her request for attorney's fees. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded, concluding the district court failed to calculate Johnson's income in accordance with the child support guidelines. View "Thompson v. Johnson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Joshua Taylor appealed after a jury found him guilty of refusing to submit to a chemical test for intoxication. Throughout the proceedings, Taylor represented himself and maintained that a video from the arresting officer's patrol vehicle would establish he stopped at the stop sign. The record did not include a written request for discovery by Taylor, but in his appellate brief he claimed he requested the audio and video recordings from the state's attorney's office and was ultimately told the materials were unrecoverable. In response to a district court inquiry about the status of discovery at a pretrial dispositional conference, Taylor indicated "[i]t sounds like what I was waiting on is unrecoverable," and he moved to dismiss the charge for "lack of evidence." He argued the arresting officer did not have a valid reason for the initial traffic stop and, as a result, the officer's subsequent requests for an onsite screening test and a chemical test were invalid. Taylor thereafter requested a jury instruction under N.D.C.C. 39-20-14(1), which authorized a law enforcement officer to request an onsite screening test if the officer "has reason to believe that the individual committed a moving traffic violation . . . and in conjunction with the violation . . . the officer has, through the officer's observations, formulated an opinion that the individual's body contains alcohol." The district court provided the jury with preliminary instructions, including an instruction on the essential elements of the charge of refusing a chemical test. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, the North Dakota Supreme Court determined there was sufficient evidence establishing that Taylor drove his vehicle on a road in Richland County and that he refused to submit to the Intoxilyzer test. The Court concluded the district court did not err in denying Taylor's motion to dismiss. View "North Dakota v. Taylor" on Justia Law

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Appellants Keith and Debra Bjerk's son Christian died from an overdose after consuming drugs at a house owned by Kenton Anderson. The district court granted summary judgment dismissing the Bjerks' premises liability and negligent entrustment claims, and the Bjerks appealed. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the facts viewed in a light most favorable to the Bjerks did not support a conclusion that Anderson owed Christian a duty of care under a premises liability theory. The Supreme Court also concluded the Bjerks' negligent entrustment failed as a matter of law because only personal property, and not the real property at issue here, was a potential basis for a negligent entrustment claim. View "Bjerk v. Anderson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Appellants Keith and Debra Bjerk's son Christian died from an overdose after consuming drugs at a house owned by Kenton Anderson. The district court granted summary judgment dismissing the Bjerks' premises liability and negligent entrustment claims, and the Bjerks appealed. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the facts viewed in a light most favorable to the Bjerks did not support a conclusion that Anderson owed Christian a duty of care under a premises liability theory. The Supreme Court also concluded the Bjerks' negligent entrustment failed as a matter of law because only personal property, and not the real property at issue here, was a potential basis for a negligent entrustment claim. View "Bjerk v. Anderson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The North Dakota Department of Transportation ("the DOT") took Rosie Glow, LLC's property through an eminent domain quick-take action. The DOT deposited $2,296,000.00 for the land and $940,860.00 for severance damages. Rosie Glow and the DOT disputed the value of the property taken. Rosie Glow's appraiser estimated the total compensation owed to Rosie Glow was $4,899,000.00, consisting of $3,788,400.00 for the land and $1,110,600.00 for severance damages. The jury awarded Rosie Glow $2,296,000.00 for property taken and $1,240,860.00 in severance damages, totaling $300,000.00 more than the DOT deposited. Rosie Glow appealed the district court's award of $32,400.00 in attorney fees and expert fees and litigation costs of $11,236.41. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. The Supreme Court determined the district court did not abuse its discretion in reducing the costs awarded for an appraisal because it adequately explained its reasoning. However, the Court found the district court abused its discretion in declining to award any costs for the appraiser's review of the DOT's appraisal because it did not explain its decision. The district court also misapplied the law by not awarding costs for the DOT's deposition of the appraiser. View "N.D. Dep't of Transportation v. Rosie Glow, LLC" on Justia Law

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The North Dakota Department of Transportation ("the DOT") took Rosie Glow, LLC's property through an eminent domain quick-take action. The DOT deposited $2,296,000.00 for the land and $940,860.00 for severance damages. Rosie Glow and the DOT disputed the value of the property taken. Rosie Glow's appraiser estimated the total compensation owed to Rosie Glow was $4,899,000.00, consisting of $3,788,400.00 for the land and $1,110,600.00 for severance damages. The jury awarded Rosie Glow $2,296,000.00 for property taken and $1,240,860.00 in severance damages, totaling $300,000.00 more than the DOT deposited. Rosie Glow appealed the district court's award of $32,400.00 in attorney fees and expert fees and litigation costs of $11,236.41. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. The Supreme Court determined the district court did not abuse its discretion in reducing the costs awarded for an appraisal because it adequately explained its reasoning. However, the Court found the district court abused its discretion in declining to award any costs for the appraiser's review of the DOT's appraisal because it did not explain its decision. The district court also misapplied the law by not awarding costs for the DOT's deposition of the appraiser. View "N.D. Dep't of Transportation v. Rosie Glow, LLC" on Justia Law

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Alexander Ferguson appealed a fourth amended judgment increasing his child support obligation. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court retained jurisdiction to modify his child support obligation under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act ("UIFSA"), as enacted in N.D.C.C. ch. 14-12.2, and that the court did not err in determining his support obligation. View "Ferguson v. Ferguson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Ewing Construction Co., Inc., appeals from a judgment denying its N.D.R.Civ.P. 60(b) motion to vacate a $951,191.62 default judgment entered in favor of Key Energy Services, LLC. Ewing began serving as the designer of and general contractor for Key's construction of the P3 Service Center project in Williston. Ewing voluntarily canceled its North Dakota contractor license in October 2014. In January 2015, Key sued Ewing and 22 others to invalidate construction liens filed against its property and claiming Ewing failed to pay numerous subcontractors for their work on the project in violation of its contractual obligations. After Ewing failed to answer the complaint, Key moved in June 2016 for a default judgment against Ewing. The district court granted the motion and entered default judgment against Ewing, awarding Key $951,191.62. The default judgment was entered on June 24, 2016, and Key served notice of entry of judgment on June 27, 2016. On May 12, 2017, after attempts were made to enforce the default judgment in Texas, Ewing brought a N.D.R.Civ.P. 60(b) motion to vacate the default judgment "because of insufficient service of process, and excusable neglect." Key responded by filing a corrected return of service which the district court accepted and considered. The corrected return of service was notarized and identified the documents served. On July 28, 2017, the court denied the N.D.R.Civ.P. 60(b) motion, concluding service of process was sufficient, the motion was untimely, and Ewing failed to establish excusable neglect. Because the district court did not err in ruling service of process was proper and did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to vacate, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Key Energy Services, LLC v. Ewing Construction Co., Inc., et. al." on Justia Law