Articles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court

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Monica Clark, as the personal representative of the estate of Lester Jasmanka, appealed a district court order denying her motion to vacate a 1990 default judgment quieting title to certain mineral interests in Jack and Eugene Peterson. Upon careful consideration of the facts of this case, the Supreme Court affirmed, concluding: (1) the 1990 judgment was not void and therefore could not be vacated; and (2) the motion to vacate the judgment for fraud and misrepresentation was untimely. View "Peterson v. Jasmanka" on Justia Law

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In 2010, Mary Gwyther was in a multi-vehicle accident while driving a pickup she co-owned with her mother, Peggy Gwyther, who died in the accident. The claimants allegedly suffered injuries and property damage as a result of the accident. The Gwyther vehicle was insured under a policy issued by Nodak Mutual Insurance Company, issued to Peggy as the named insured. Peggy lived in a home she co-owned with Mary in Bismarck. Although Mary was listed as a co-owner of the Bismarck property, she had never actually lived in the home, and had not lived with her parents since 1972. Mary had been living in Switzerland since 2000. She owned a business in Switzerland, owned and insured a vehicle there, and had a Swiss driver's license and residence permit. However, Mary voted by absentee ballot in North Dakota as a resident, declaring in applications and affidavits that she was a resident at her mother's Bismarck address. She also designated the Bismarck address as her permanent home address with the State Department. Nodak brought an interpleader action seeking a declaration it was only liable to pay the reduced step-down policy limits because Mary was not a resident of Peggy's household at the time of the accident and therefore was not a "family member" under the policy. The case was tried as a bench trial on stipulated facts. The district court found Mary was not a resident of Peggy's household, concluded the policy did not violate North Dakota law, and concluded Nodak was required to pay only the lower step-down policy limits. The claimants appealed that decision, but the Supreme Court affirmed, concluding the district court's finding was not clearly erroneous and the step-down endorsement to the insurance policy did not violate North Dakota law. View "Nodak Mutual Insurance Co. v. Bahr-Renner" on Justia Law

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Balvitsch and Weisgram sued Tollefson for breach of contract, conversion, unjust enrichment, and other claims. Balvitsch and Weisgram moved to hold Tollefson in contempt, alleging Tollefson failed to obey a February 8, 2013 court order that instructed Tollefson not to make any further attacks on the parties and other non-party individuals during the course of the litigation. Balvitsch and Weisgram alleged the court ordered Tollefson at the scheduling conference to stop all attacks against a non-party individual and to stick to the facts of the case during the litigation. They alleged Tollefson ignored the court's order by threatening to launch websites defaming Weisgram and the non-party individual. The trial court entered an order to show cause noting the time and place for the contempt hearing and ordered that Tollefson appear and show why he should not have been held in contempt. The hearing took place, and the court found Tollefson in contempt and ordered sanctions. Tollefson appealed that order and sanction, arguing he did not receive proper notice of the hearing. Upon review, the Supreme Court reversed, concluding Tollefson did not have adequate notice of the contempt proceeding. View "Balvitsch v. Dakota Burger N Fries Corp." on Justia Law

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The Zavadils alleged they loaned Jon and Hollie Rud $32,000 under an April 2008 verbal agreement. The loan was to be repaid when the Ruds sold their home or within six months. When the Ruds failed to repay the loan, the Zavadils agreed to renew and extend the original verbal loan agreement. In 2009, the Ruds executed a third mortgage on their property in favor of the Zavadils, and on a few months later, the Ruds executed a promissory note for $32,000 plus interest due and payable to the Zavadils a year later. The Ruds divorced in June 2009, between executions of the third mortgage and the promissory note. The Zavadils sued the Ruds to foreclose the third mortgage after the Ruds failed to make all payments required under the promissory note. Wells Fargo Bank subsequently brought an action against the Ruds, the Zavadils and others to foreclose its first position mortgage on the property. The Zavadils admitted their third mortgage was subordinate to the bank's mortgage on the property and stipulated to dismissal of their foreclosure action against the Ruds. Jon Rud appealed the grant of summary judgment that awarded Zavadils $33,490.19 in their action to recover on the promissory note. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court affirmed, concluding the district court did not err in ruling no genuine issues of material fact existed and the Zavadils were entitled to judgment as a matter of law. View "Zavadil v. Rud" on Justia Law

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Michael Hamre appealed a district court order affirming a North Dakota Department of Transportation ("DOT") order disqualifying his commercial driver's license for one year. Hamre argued: (1) that DOT misapplied the law by considering the administrative suspension of his noncommercial license a "conviction" under N.D.C.C. 39-06.2-10(7) (2011); (2) that N.D.C.C. 39-06.2-10(7) (2011) was void for vagueness; (3) that the one-year suspension of his driving privileges commenced on May 29, 2012, rather than on January 13, 2013; and (4) that he was entitled to attorney fees and costs. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Hamre v. N.D. Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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James Huston appealed an order denying his petition to remove Wilma Russell as personal representative of Virgil Huston's estate and from an order denying Russell's petition to determine Virgil Huston's heirs. The Supreme Court concluded after review that the district court did not misapply the law and provided a reasoned explanation for its determination not to remove Russell as personal representative of the estate. The court's decision was not arbitrary, unconscionable or unreasonable, and the Court concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying James Huston's petition to remove Russell as personal representative. View "Estate of Huston" on Justia Law

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Workforce Safety and Insurance ("WSI") denied Rick Brockel medical benefits and terminated his disability benefits. Upon review of Brockel's arguments on appeal, the Supreme Court concluded WSI's finding that Brockel's condition was not causally related to his work injury was supported by a preponderance of the evidence. Furthermore, the Court concluded Brockel was denied a fair hearing because he was not provided notice that one of the grounds for terminating his disability benefits would be the failure to submit medical verification of his disability. In addition, the Court concluded WSI's finding that Brockel failed to show his wage loss was the result of his compensable injury was not in accordance with the law. Therefore, the Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the case for retroactive reinstatement of Brockel's disability benefits and for further proceedings. View "Brockel v. WSI" on Justia Law

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Kyle Mackey appealed a district court order denying his motion to modify parenting time and petition for non-parental visitation. Upon review of the district court record, the Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in finding that Mackey failed to establish a material change in circumstances justifying a modification of parenting time. Moreover, the Court concluded the district court did not err in finding that exceptional circumstances did not exist justifying non-parental visitation for Amber Mackey. View "Bredeson v. Mackey" on Justia Law

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Roger Sundsbak, George Bitz and Northern Livestock Auction appealed a district court judgment granting Craig Anderson's motion for summary judgment and denying Northern Livestock's motion to amend their counterclaim. Anderson was First Western Bank & Trust's assignee. Northern Livestock argued the district court erred as a matter of law by entering summary judgment in favor of Anderson, by failing to enter summary judgment in favor of Northern Livestock's counterclaim for specific performance and by failing to provide sufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law to allow judicial review of its decision denying Northern Livestock's cross-motion for summary judgment. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Anderson v. Zimbelman" on Justia Law

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G.R.'s father, W.R., appealed a juvenile court order terminating his parental rights. W.R. argued the juvenile court erred in finding the causes and conditions of the deprivation were likely to continue and finding the termination of his parental rights was necessary to avoid serious physical, mental, or emotional harm to the child. The Supreme Court concluded the juvenile court's findings were not clearly erroneous, and accordingly affirmed that court's order. View "Interest of G.R." on Justia Law