by
The North Dakota Department of Transportation (the "DOT") took G. John Schmitz's property through an eminent domain quick-take action. The DOT deposited $973,380.00 with the Williams County Clerk of Court for the taking. Schmitz disputed the amount and timely served a notice of appeal. In September and October of 2014, the parties attempted unsuccessfully to reach a settlement. Jury trial was set for September 30, 2015. Schmitz had trouble locating expert witnesses and asked for a continuance. The parties stipulated to the continuance, and the court reset trial for January 24, 2017. Schmitz located three expert witnesses before trial: Scott Bechtle, an architect, provided Schmitz with hypothetical development concepts for the property; Robert Strachota, a Minneapolis-based appraiser, offered opinions of land value and severance damages; and Dan Leirness, a Fargo-based appraiser, offered an opinion of land values. After trial Schmitz requested $263,866.97 in attorney fees, $154,172.12 in expert fees and $17,224.31 in litigation costs for a total of $567,317.36. The DOT contested the fees and costs. The district court awarded $137,347.50 in attorney fees, $35,930.96 in expert fees and $8,027.38 in litigation costs for a total of $181,305.84. Schmitz appealed. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded, finding the district court did not abuse its discretion in reducing Schmitz's attorney or expert fees, but abused its discretion in reducing and eliminating certain litigation costs. The judgment was reversed regarding those litigation costs, and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "N.D. Dep't of Transportation v. Schmitz" on Justia Law

by
Courtney Krueger appealed a judgment affirming a decision of the Department of Transportation suspending his driving privileges for two years. Because the Traill County sheriff's deputy had jurisdiction to make the arrest in Grand Forks County and Krueger's statutory rights and constitutional rights were not violated by the deputy's administration of three breath tests, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Krueger v. N.D. Dep't of Transportation" on Justia Law

by
Steven Kelly and Spirit Energy LLC (collectively "Spirit") appealed a district court order holding them in contempt for failing to return leased vehicles to Kettle Butte Trucking ("KBT"). KBT sued Spirit, alleging Spirit failed to pay numerous lease payments for trucks they leased from KBT. Spirit challenged the district court's underlying order that was alleged to have been violated. Spirit also argued the court did not have jurisdiction to hold it in contempt. When a contempt order is appealed, challenges to the underlying order will not be considered unless the underlying order is also appealed. When a court has issued an allegedly erroneous order, the party to whom the order was issued must obey it as long as it remains in force or until it is reversed on appeal, and the failure to obey the order is punishable as a contempt of court. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court's order holding Spirit in contempt. View "Kettle Butte Trucking, LLC v. Kelly" on Justia Law

by
Kevin Hoff appealed a divorce judgment that, among other things, determined a parenting plan for the parties' children. After review of the district court record, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the judgment, concluding the district court's parenting plan decision was supported by sufficient findings and was not clearly erroneous. "A district court need not make separate findings for each best interests factor but, as with custody, the court's findings must contain sufficient specificity to show the factual basis for the decision." View "Hoff v. Hoff" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

by
Stephanie Lee appealed a judgment evicting her, and any other person or persons claiming under her, from her Williston premises and awarding IRET Properties ("IRET") $880.00 for attorney's fees and costs. Lee argued IRET failed to perform all the prerequisites under N.D.C.C. ch. 47­32 in order to bring an eviction action against her, and therefore, she was unlawfully evicted. Lee further argued the district court failed to make sufficient findings on the issue of default and the district court improperly awarded IRET attorney's fees and costs. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded IRET properly brought an eviction action against Lee for failure to pay rent and the district court's findings were sufficient to sustain its conclusions. View "IRET Properties v. Lee" on Justia Law

by
Glenn Solberg appealed an amended judgment dismissing his claims against the estate of his stepfather, Lyle Nelson ("Lyle Nelson Estate"). Solberg challenged the district court's dismissal of his claim seeking ownership of 100 mineral acres and seeking to enforce an option to purchase real property. The court determined that the mineral interests and real property alleged to be subject to the option were never within the Lyle Nelson Estate and that Solberg's claim was also untimely. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the amended judgment and granted the Lyle Nelson Estate's request for an award of costs and attorney fees for a frivolous appeal under N.D.R.App.P. 38. View "Estate of Nelson" on Justia Law

by
In 2007, Tilmer Everett was convicted by jury of gross sexual imposition. In August 2015, the district court barred Everett from future filings without the court's permission. Everett appealed a district court order denying his petition for post-conviction relief based on alleged newly discovered evidence. Everett argued the district court erred in denying his petition and denying his request for an evidentiary hearing. Because Everett was subject to an order prohibiting him from filing new or additional post-conviction relief claims, the North Dakota Supreme Court treated the district court's current order as denying Everett leave to file additional motions. The Court held orders denying leave to file were not appealable. Therefore, the Court dismissed Everett's appeal. View "Everett v. North Dakota" on Justia Law

by
Charles Erwin appeals from an amended judgment entered in favor of Alerus Financial, N.A., for $5,265,653.09. Starting in 2012 Alerus made a series of loans totaling more than $15 million to Diverse Energy Systems, LLC. The loan agreement specified "Events of Default," including the failure to pay the indebtedness, the insolvency of the borrower or guarantor or the commencement of bankruptcy proceedings. Erwin was Diverse's chief executive officer, and he signed multiple personal guaranties, promising to be personally responsible for payment of up to $4 million of Diverse's debt owed to Alerus. In September 2015 Diverse filed for bankruptcy. In May 2016 Alerus sued Erwin for breach of contract and unjust enrichment, alleging Diverse was in default under the loan agreement and Erwin failed to make payment on the amount due under the guaranties. Alerus alleged Diverse's indebtedness exceeded $12 million and under the guaranties Erwin was liable for at least $4 million in principal and interest. On September 6, 2016, Erwin filed an answer to Alerus' complaint. Alerus moved for summary judgment, arguing Diverse defaulted on its loan obligations and Erwin breached the guaranty contracts by failing to pay the amounts due under the guaranties. Alerus also filed an affidavit in support of its motion from an Alerus employee, which it claimed showed the total outstanding principal and interest on the loans to Diverse. Erwin argued on appeal to the North Dakota Supreme Court the district court abused its discretion by failing to rule on his motion to amend his answer and entering judgment without allowing him to conduct discovery on Alerus' damage claims. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the amended judgment. View "Alerus Financial, N.A. v. Erwin" on Justia Law

by
Sandy Botteicher ("Botteicher") appeals from a judgment dismissing her claims against Pam and Darwin Becker (collectively "Beckers") and awarding the Beckers $5,000 for their attorney fees. Botteicher and Pam Becker are sisters and heirs to their mother's estate. Following the death of their father in January 2015, Pam Becker was appointed legal guardian for their mother who was residing in a nursing home. Their mother died in July 2015. A third party was appointed personal representative of their mother's estate ("the estate"). Following the filing of the closing documents by the personal representative, Botteicher filed a number of petitions or motions. In her petitions, Botteicher sought to set aside what the parties refer to as the "Warehouse" transaction, a real property transfer in Dickinson that occurred in 2010 and 2011. Botteicher also requested an evidentiary hearing, objected to the final accounting, sought formal testacy proceedings, sought the disqualification of the attorney representing the personal representative, moved for the appointment of herself as the personal representative and sought to keep the estate open by alleging that numerous items of her mother's personal property were missing from the inventory and appraisement. The probate court denied all of the petitions or motions filed by Botteicher. The court denied the petition seeking to set aside the Warehouse transfer after concluding the personal representative, not Botteicher, had "standing" to assert an action to challenge the Warehouse transfer in the probate proceedings, and that the request to set aside the property transfer was "not properly in front of the Court." In the probate proceedings, Botteicher was attempting to personally initiate an action against the Beckers to set aside a transfer made by the decedent. The probate court issued an order approving the inventory and appraisement as well as the final account and distribution. Botteicher did not appeal the final decree of distribution. Approximately one month after the probate proceedings were closed, Botteicher and her daughter, Alexandra Botteicher, brought this action against the Beckers, alleging multiple claims regarding the estate's transactions under the Beckers. Unsuccessful, Botteicher challenged the district court's determination that some of her claims were previously resolved in separate probate proceedings and were barred by res judicata, that her claim for interference with the right of burial and her claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress could be dismissed as a matter of law, and that the Beckers were entitled to an award of attorney fees. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the judgment. View "Botteicher v. Becker" on Justia Law

by
Roland Riemers appealed a district court judgment awarding CHS Inc. attorney's fees and costs, and an order denying Riemers' motion to reopen the case and close judgment. Riemers also moved to vacate the district court's "Corrected Amended Judgment." In March 2016, CHS was awarded a money judgment against Riemers for $38,889. In April 2016, Riemers deposited $41,100 into a bank account, apparently to be used for garnishment by CHS. In May 2016, on the motion of CHS, the district court entered an amended judgment ("Amended Judgment") in for $41,793.72 to reflect the prejudgment interest accrued. The North Dakota Supreme Court summarily affirmed the Amended Judgment as modified, reducing the prejudgment interest amount by $70.07. CHS began collecting on the Amended Judgment by garnishing funds that Riemers held at the bank and another account held by a credit union. The Supreme Court determined the district court did not abuse its discretion by awarding CHS attorney's fees and costs on the basis of a frivolous motion, and affirmed the district court judgment. However, because the order denying Riemers' motion to reopen the case and close judgment reflected that the amount owing to CHS was $679.08, instead of the correct amount of $549.08, the Supreme Court modified the order, stating that $549.08 is the outstanding principal balance on the Amended Judgment. Because the district court lacked jurisdiction, the Supreme Court vacated the Corrected Amended Judgment. View "CHS Inc. v. Riemers" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure