Articles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court

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The North Dakota Department of Human Services appealed a district court judgment reversing the Department's order deciding Sanford HealthCare Accessories received overpayments for medical equipment supplied to Medicaid recipients and ordering recoupment. The North Dakota Supreme Court reversed and remanded, concluding the district court erred in deciding the Department's failure to comply with the statutory time requirement for issuing its final order precluded the Department from acting. View "Sanford Healthcare Accessories, LLC v. N.D. Dep't of Human Services" on Justia Law

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Terry Smith appealed, and Cindie Innis-Smith cross-appealed, an amended judgment granting the parties a divorce, dividing the parties' marital property, and awarding Innis-Smith spousal support. Smith also appealed an order denying his motion to reopen the record to present additional evidence relating to the values of certain items of marital property. Smith argued the district court clearly erred by equally distributing the marital property, claiming the parties' short marriage did not justify an equal distribution. The North Dakota Supreme Court found no reversible error in the trial court’s distribution of the marital property. However, because of an alleged substantial change in the values of water depot and mineral interests as part of the marital property, the Supreme Court concluded the trial court abused its discretion in denying Smith's motion to reopen the record to allow the parties to present additional evidence on the values of those property interests. The Supreme Court reversed the court's order denying Smith's motion to reopen, and remanded this case for further proceedings relating to the values of the water depot and mineral interests. View "Innis-Smith v. Smith" on Justia Law

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Joshua Gomez appealed an order of civil commitment after the district court determined he was a sexually dangerous individual ("SDI"). Gomez argued the district court erred in allowing the State to call as a witness an expert appointed on his behalf. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court's order. View "Matter of Gomez" on Justia Law

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Artec Homes, LLC ("Artec") appealed an amended judgment granting foreclosure in favor of Andrew Martin ("Martin"), and dismissing Artec's claims against Martin and Greyson Financial Services, Inc. ("Greyson"). This case was the fourth lawsuit relating to an unfinished real estate development referred to as Magic Meadows in Minot, North Dakota. Highpoint Properties, LLC ("Highpoint") originally owned 127 residential lots in the Magic Meadows development. In September 2011, Artec purchased an interest in twenty of the lots from Highpoint for $400,000. Highpoint continued to own the remaining 107 lots after the sale of the twenty lots to Artec. In April 2013, while the first lawsuit between Artec and Highpoint was pending, Highpoint conveyed its interest in the remaining 107 lots to Marquee Pacific, LLC ("Marquee"). In June 2013, Greyson loaned $400,000 to Marquee in exchange for a mortgage against the remaining 107 lots. Greyson subsequently assigned the mortgage to Martin in November 2014. In December 2013, Artec began the third lawsuit against Highpoint and Marquee after it discovered Highpoint transferred the remaining 107 lots to Marquee. Artec alleged that Highpoint's conveyance of the remaining 107 lots to Marquee was fraudulent. Highpoint and Marquee did not defend the lawsuit, and Highpoint's conveyance to Marquee was set aside. Greyson and Martin were not parties to the third lawsuit. Following that lawsuit, Artec owned all 127 lots subject to the mortgage on 107 lots originally held by Greyson and assigned to Martin. The latest lawsuit was initiated by Martin against Marquee and Artec seeking to foreclose the mortgage on the 107 lots. Artec counterclaimed against Martin and subsequently brought a third-party complaint against Greyson, alleging they did not receive the mortgage from Marquee in good faith and for reasonably equivalent value, rendering the mortgage unenforceable. Martin and Greyson moved to dismiss Artec's counterclaim and third-party complaint, and Martin moved for summary judgment on the foreclosure claim. The district court concluded that because Greyson obtained its mortgage from Marquee before Artec sued to set aside the conveyance from Highpoint to Marquee in the third lawsuit, Greyson should have been made a party to that action. The court held Artec improperly split its cause of action because it did not join Martin and Greyson in the fraudulent transfer action. The court granted Martin's motion for summary judgment on the foreclosure claim after determining that dismissal of Artec's claims against Martin and Greyson eliminated Artec's only defense to the foreclosure claim. The North Dakota Supreme Court reversed and remanded:because Greyson and Martin were not parties to the fraudulent transfer action nor in privity with Highpoint or Marquee, the res judicata prohibition against splitting a cause of action did not apply, and the district court erred in dismissing Artec's claims. View "Martin v. Marquee Pacific, LLC" on Justia Law

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Parke Little appealed the denial of his petition for a writ of mandamus. Little was a disabled veteran who formerly served in the Marine Corps and the Army. Little worked for Stark County as a special deputy from approximately 2008-2016. In July 2008, while employed as a special deputy, Little applied for a "deputy sheriff" position with Stark County. Little indicated his veteran's preference status in the application. Little was interviewed in November 2008. After the interview, Little became aware the deputy sheriff position was given to a non-veteran. Little continued to work in his capacity as a special deputy for Stark County until 2016. In March 2015, Little, through counsel, sent a letter to the Stark County Sheriff's Department requesting written notification why he was refused the 2008 deputy sheriff position. The Department responded, referring Little's attorney to direct the matter to the state's attorney's office. Little, through counsel, submitted a letter to the Stark County States Attorney and the Stark County Sheriff on March 4, 2016, and received no response. Little petitioned the court to compel the Sheriff’s office to respond to his request. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order denying Little’s petition for a writ of mandamus:  Little was aware someone else was given the deputy sheriff position, continued to work for Stark County, and waited nearly eight years after the interview to inquire why he was refused employment. Little provides no reasonable excuse for the delay. It was not an abuse of discretion for the district court to consider the excessive delay in denying Little's petition. View "Little v. Stark County Sheriff" on Justia Law

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Trent Guthmiller appealed a district court judgment affirming a North Dakota Department of Transportation ("DOT") decision to disqualify his commercial driving privileges for 60 days. In October 2016, the DOT notified Guthmiller that his commercial driving privileges were disqualified because he had committed two serious traffic violations within the last three years. Guthmiller committed the violations of speeding and aggravated reckless driving. The violations occurred within three years, but the convictions were approximately three years and ten months apart. At the administrative hearing on his commercial driving disqualification, Guthmiller did not contest the commission of the violations. On appeal to the North Dakota Supreme Court, Guthmiller argued the district court's order was not in accordance with the law. The Supreme Court reversed the district court's judgment and reinstated Guthmiller's commercial driving privileges: the statute unambiguously required two convictions within three years. View "Guthmiller v. N.D. Dep't of Transportation" on Justia Law

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Sandra Glass Lenertz ("Lenertz") appealed the district court's order granting James Glass's Motion for Deposit of Funds With Court and for Satisfaction of Judgment. In 1996, James Glass ("Glass") and Lenertz divorced. The divorce judgment required Glass to pay spousal support. Lenertz remarried in 2002. In 2015, Glass filed a motion to terminate his spousal support obligation. The district court granted Glass's motion and terminated spousal support at the time of Lenertz's remarriage. The district court also granted Lenertz a judgment for $26,903.37 because this was the amount that the court determined Glass owed on unpaid spousal support. Glass only started paying spousal support in 2001; thus he was behind on payments and interest. On the basis of the order granting the motion to terminate spousal support ("Termination Order"), the district court issued an Amended Judgment and Decree ("Amended Judgment"), which granted Lenertz the money judgment of $26,903.37. Glass attempted to satisfy the money judgment by paying Lenertz and obtaining a final satisfaction of judgment. Lenertz refused to accept the $26,903.37 payment because it was conditioned on her signing a final satisfaction of judgment, which she claimed would preclude her from appealing, and the amount did not include post-judgment interest. Glass moved the district court to deposit the $26,903.37 payment with the clerk of court. At the motion hearing, the district court concluded that the amount owed was interest, not principal, and thus post-judgment interest did not accrue. Further, the district court ordered that Glass be allowed to deposit the funds into the court and that a full satisfaction be provided. Lenertz argued on appeal to the Supreme Court that the judgment of $26,903.37 awarded to her in the Termination Order was principal and thus she was owed post-judgment interest on that amount. Glass argued that because Lenertz did not raise this issue in her appeal of the Amended Judgment, this argument was barred by the law of the case doctrine. The Supreme Court affirmed under the law of the case doctrine. View "Glass v. Glass" on Justia Law

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Counce Energy BC #1, LLC, appealed the judgment entered on a jury verdict awarding Continental Resources, Inc., $153,666.50 plus costs and disbursements for breaching its contract with Continental by failing to pay its share of expenses to drill an oil and gas well, and dismissing with prejudice Counce's counterclaims. Because the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Continental's breach of contract action and Counce's counterclaims, the North Dakota Supreme Court vacated the judgment. View "Continental Resources, Inc. v. Counce Energy BC #1, LLC" on Justia Law

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John Dixon appealed the grant of summary judgment that dismissed his action to remove Billie Dixon as trustee of the Shirley A. Dixon Trust and sought reimbursement, an accounting and court supervision of the trust. In 2013 Billie, as trustee, sued John to reform a warranty deed their father executed conveying a tract of McKenzie County real property to John. Billie contended William Dixon intended to reserve the mineral interests as property of the trust. The district court agreed and reformed the warranty deed to reserve and except the minerals and retain the mineral interests as property of the trust to be distributed in accordance with the trust's terms and conditions. Shortly after the reformation action was commenced in 2013, John sued Billie seeking an accounting of the trust, her removal as trustee, court supervised administration of the trust, reimbursement of the trust for unauthorized distributions, and his attorney fees expended in the action. During multiple trial postponements, Shirley Dixon died in 2015. About two months before the scheduled February 2017 trial, Billie moved for summary judgment dismissal of the lawsuit. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the case was not moot and genuine issues of material fact precluded disposition by summary judgment. The Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Dixon v. Dixon" on Justia Law

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Craig Benson ("Benson") appealed a district court's judgment defining the boundaries of Outlot 11 and awarding Feland Brothers Properties ("the Felands") the northern portion of Outlot 53 through adverse possession. In 1951, Ruby Benson, Benson's grandmother, acquired a 600 by 450 foot tract to the west of Whiskey Bay on Lake Metigoshe. This tract of land was subdivided into several lots. The Felands owned Outlot 10, Craig and Brenda Benson ("the Bensons") owned Outlot 53, and Danny and Gwen Aftem ("the Aftems") owned Outlot 11. Outlot 53 was the result of a survey completed in 2010. The northern portion of Outlot 53 was largely ignored by the record owners, Richard Benson and then Craig Benson. Chris Romfo, a neighbor, testified that he rented Outlot 53 from Richard Benson for about nine years and understood that it was only for the southern part of Outlot 53. Romfo testified that Richard Benson never mentioned owning the northern part of Outlot 53. Although Craig Benson testified that he and his family regularly stayed at the lake for many years, he was vague as to the use of the northern part. He testified that he didn't build anything on the northern lot, except for a small bridge across the creek, apparently connecting the north and south portions of the lot. This bridge was later removed. After the 2010 survey was completed, he placed "no trespass" signs on the northern lot and cut trees down. He also began warning others not to use the property. The previous owners of Outlot 10 made a number of improvements to the northern portion of Outlot 53. The Bensons sued the Felands and Aftems to quiet title in all of Outlot 53. The Felands and Aftems counterclaimed, arguing that they own the northern portion of Outlot 53 and title should be quieted in their favor. Alternatively, the Felands and Aftems argued that they acquired the northern portion of Outlot 53 through adverse possession. After a bench trial, the district court defined the southeastern boundary of Outlot 11 as the corner of L-8 and L-9 on Outlot 53's plat, awarded the Felands the northern portion of Outlot 53 on the basis of adverse possession, and quieted title to the southern portion of Outlot 53 in favor of the Bensons. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, concluding the district court did not clearly err in defining the boundaries of Outlot 11 or in concluding the Felands adversely possessed the northern portion of Outlot 53. View "Benson v. Feland Brothers Properties" on Justia Law