On appeal after remand in this lawsuit seeking payment for two unpaid invoices for respondents’ work analyzing and preparing data for appellant’s criminal lawsuit, appellant argued that the District Court abused its discretion by violating the remand instructions, admitting evidence of his wealth and prior federal criminal charges, and excluding the testimony of his expert witness. The Court of Appeals concluded that consideration of damages from the second invoice was not inconsistent with the analysis in the earlier opinion involving the first invoice. Furthermore, there was no abuse of discretion in the evidentiary rulings. Affirmed.
A20-0709 Lanterman v. Afremov (Hennepin County)
This was an appeal from an order of the District Court confirming an arbitration award granting the grievance filed by respondent via the parties’ collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Appellant school district argued that the District Court erred by deferring to the arbitrator and concluding that the arbitrator had not exceeded his authority. The Court of Appeals concluded that the arbitrator’s permissible determinations—that the grievance was timely and that the CBA provided for the “wellness pay” benefit—were made solely upon his review of the CBA and consistent with his role as the arbitrator. Furthermore, the fact that the arbitrator impermissibly, and alternatively, reached the same result via a constitutional basis did not mandate reversal of an otherwise valid award. Affirmed.
A20-0906 Special School Dist. No. 1, Minneapolis Pub. Schools v. Minneapolis Fed. of Teachers (Hennepin County)
Mental Illness; Medication
Appellant challenged a District Court order authorizing medical staff to involuntarily administer neuroleptic medication, arguing that the record did not support the finding that the administration of neuroleptic medication was reasonable and necessary. The Court of Appeals concluded that there was no clear error in the finding that involuntary administration of neuroleptic medication was reasonable and necessary. Affirmed.
A20-1246 In re Civil Commitment of Thompson (Jackson County)
In this lawsuit about the ownership of and interests in an aircraft in which respondent-plaintiff served an incorrect and similarly named entity, appellant argued that the District Court erred by concluding that it was not a party to this lawsuit and therefore lacked standing to bring a motion to vacate the default judgment. Appellant alternatively argued that the District Court erred by concluding that, as a nonparty, appellant must intervene in the action in order to file its motion. Finally, appellant sought reversal of the District Court’s denial of its motion to vacate because the default judgment was void, the Finden factors supported vacatur, and Minn. R. Civ. P. 55.01(d) required reversal. The Court of Appeals concluded that (1) the District Court did not clearly err by finding that appellant was not a named or served party to this lawsuit, (2) appellant had standing to file a motion to vacate as an interested nonparty and without having to intervene, and (3) because it lacked personal jurisdiction over appellant and therefore could not adjudicate appellant’s interest in the aircraft, the District Court erred by failing to grant the motion to vacate the default judgment. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
A20-0721 R.P. AIR, INC. v. Great Gulf Corp. (Anoka County)
Child Custody; Modification
In this custody and parenting time dispute, appellant argued that the District Court erred in the following three respects: (1) it applied the wrong legal standard to her motion to modify parenting time; (2) it restricted her parenting time to under 25% without a showing of endangerment; and (3) it imposed an unconstitutional condition on her ability to make a motion to modify custody. The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s parenting time decision because the District Court applied the correct legal standard and because mother’s argument misstated the law. In addition, the Court concluded that the District Court did not violate mother’s constitutional rights because the District Court did not dismiss mother’s motion to modify custody, but instead considered it. Affirmed.
A20-0863 Waldron v. Garrett (Hennepin County)
Child Protection; Termination of Parental Rights
In this juvenile-protection appeal, the District Court dismissed appellant-county’s petition to terminate parental rights (the TPR petition). In the petition file and in the underlying Child in Need of Protection or Services (CHIPS) file, the District Court found due-process violations and ordered appellant to create and implement remedial plans and consult with the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). County appealed the dismissal of its petition, and, in a separate appellate file (A20-1114), sought a writ of prohibition to preclude the District Court from enforcing the requirement in the CHIPS matter that county and the office of the county attorney consult with the DHS. This court denied the petition for a writ of prohibition in A20-1114 and directed the parties to address the order issued in the underlying CHIPS file in this appeal of the order dismissing the TPR petition. In this appeal, county argued that the District Court (1) abused its discretion by dismissing the TPR petition, (2) abused its discretion by determining that it was not in the children’s best interests to terminate parental rights, (3) erred by determining that appellant failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify the family, and (4) erred by determining on a sua sponte basis that appellant violated the family’s due-process rights. The Court of Appeals found no error with the District Court’s termination decision, but reversed the District Court’s due-process-violation determinations. Affirmed in part and reversed in part.
A20-1113 In re Welfare of Children of S.C. (Kandiyohi County)
Human Services Licensing
Relator challenged the decision of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) that relator was disqualified under the Background Studies Act from providing services to persons in licensed facilities, arguing that: (1) Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) decisions of May 2018 and February 2020 were reviewable by this court under Jackson v. Comm’r of Human Servs., 933 N.W.2d 408 (Minn. 2019); and (2) the MDH May 2020 decision was arbitrary and unsupported by substantial evidence. Noting that relator did not submit new information that would justify a contrary determination, the Court of Appeals concluded that Jackson did not entitle relator to appellate review of the DHS May 2018 and February 2020 decisions that she committed a disqualifying act. Furthermore, the MDH decision was not arbitrary and was supported by substantial evidence. Affirmed.
A20-0871 L.M.P. v. Minn. Dep’t of Human Servs. (Minn. Dep’t of Human Servs.)
Appellant judgment creditor challenged the rule 12 dismissal of this action to renew a judgment based on the statute of limitations. Noting that it was undisputed that the judgment appellant sought to renew was entered on April 15, 2009, and that this action was not commenced until 21 days after April 28, 2019, when the summons was first published, the Court of Appeals concluded that appellant did not commence this action within ten years of when judgment was entered. Affirmed.
A19-1894 Klingelhutz Judgment, LLC v. Klingelhutz (Ramsey County)
Appellant challenged the summary-judgment dismissal of his negligence claim against respondent Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) arising out of a snowmobile accident on a state trail. Appellant asserted that the District Court erred by concluding that his claim was barred by recreational-use immunity under Minn. Stat. § 3.736, subd. 3(i). He argued that there were genuine issues of material fact regarding whether the trespasser exception to recreational-use immunity applied. Noting that the record showed that the snow berm that caused the accident was not created or maintained by the DNR and that the DNR did not have any knowledge of it, the Court of Appeals concluded that there were no genuine issues of material fact barring the application of recreational-use immunity. Affirmed.
A20-0720 Nukala v. State (St. Louis County)
Statute of Frauds
In this civil action, a jury found that appellant-mother entered into an oral contract to transfer 80 acres of a family farm to respondent-son, and the District Court granted specific performance. The jury also found that appellant entered into an oral contract to compensate respondent for his work on the farm over several years, and the District Court awarded monetary damages. Appellant challenged the District Court’s denial of her posttrial motions. She argued that the District Court erred by denying her motion for judgment as a matter of law regarding the land contract because there was not clear and convincing evidence of an oral contract and because the contract was void under the statute of frauds. Appellant also argued that she was entitled to a new trial on the issue of her liability for respondent’s farm services because the District Court allowed inadmissible hearsay at the trial. The Court of Appeals concluded that there was clear and convincing evidence of an oral contract and the part-performance doctrine removed the oral contract from the statute of frauds. Affirmed.
A20-0675 Walker v. Walker (Wabasha County)
After a jury trial in this dispute regarding the rental of a self-storage unit, appellant argued that the District Court made three errors. First, appellant challenged the District Court’s decision not to include appellant’s proposed questions regarding respondents’ statutory and contractual liability on the special verdict form. Second, appellant challenged the District Court’s denial of his motion for a new trial, arguing that an improper question regarding waiver on the special verdict form resulted in an award of insufficient damages. Third, appellant argued that the District Court erred when it declined to instruct the jury on appellant’s consumer-fraud claim. Because the jury instructions and verdict form fairly and correctly stated the applicable law and reflected the allegations in the complaint, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not abuse its discretion when it provided the instructions and the special verdict form to the jury. Affirmed.
A20-0648 Nassif v. Penz (Olmsted County)
Relator challenged the denial of his application for unemployment benefits. The Court of Appeals concluded that the unemployment-law judge properly dismissed relator’s request for reconsideration of an adverse decision because relator filed the request for reconsideration after the applicable 20-day deadline. Affirmed.
A20-0927 Miller v. Hullenback & Nelson, Inc. (Dep’t of Emp’t & Econ. Dev.)
In this direct appeal from the judgment of conviction, defendant argued, inter alia, that the District Court erred by entering judgments of conviction and sentences for both driving while impaired (DWI) and test refusal. The Court of Appeals concluded that entering judgments of conviction for both DWI and test refusal, when the offenses are committed during a single behavioral incident, is barred by Minn. Stat. § 609.04, subd. 1, because the offenses are set forth in the same criminal statute. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
A20-0500 State v. Bonkowske (Washington County)
Appellant’s conditional release was revoked for 365 days or less after he violated multiple conditions of his release. He was required to engage in chemical-dependency treatment. Approximately four months before the end of the revocation period, after he had completed treatment, he petitioned the District Court for a writ of habeas corpus, arguing that the commissioner had an obligation to release him from prison and supervise him in the community. The District Court denied the petition.
The Court of Appeals held that an offender whose conditional release has been revoked does not have an entitlement under state law to again be released from prison to the community if his difficulty in finding agent-approved housing is due to reasons that are not largely outside his control, he has not yet reached the end of the revocation period, and his caseworker is making efforts to find an appropriate residence. Affirmed.
A20-0766 State ex rel. Browneagle v. Schnell (Anoka County)
Illegal Firearm Possession
Sufficiency of the Evidence
Moments after a drive-by shooting, police saw defendant riding in the front passenger seat of a vehicle speeding away from the scene. After police made an unsuccessful attempt to stop the car, defendant, the driver, and an unidentified backseat passenger eventually abandoned the vehicle and fled from police on foot. Police found a .45-caliber handgun in the car’s rear passenger area. Defendant was apprehended on a later date and admitted that he was present when the shots were fired but denied participating in the shooting. The state charged defendant with aiding and abetting the drive-by shooting and unlawful possession of a firearm or ammunition. The state introduced cellphone videos showing defendant in possession of a purported 9mm handgun in the days leading up to the shooting and argued to the jury that defendant possessed and fired a 9mm handgun—that police never found—on the night of the shooting. The jury acquitted defendant of aiding and abetting the drive-by shooting, but guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm or ammunition. Defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the jury’s guilty verdict. The Court of Appeals concluded that the evidence was not sufficient to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that defendant possessed a firearm or ammunition. Reversed.
A20-0320 State v. Lewis (Hennepin County)
Defendant argued that the District Court wrongly denied his motion to suppress evidence because police officers conducted an unlawful search and seizure and unreasonably expanded the stop. Defendant also argued that the District Court clearly erred in concluding that he consented to the search. Defendant sought to impute the knowledge of an unknown law enforcement agent that defendant’s warrant was no longer active on the arresting officer. The Court of Appeals declined to do so, noting that the arresting officer knew that a warrant warned that defendant may have access to firearms. Affirmed.
A20-0401 State v. McCray (Ramsey County)
Extended Jurisdiction Juvenile Status
Appellant challenged the District Court’s revocation of his extended jurisdiction juvenile (EJJ) status and its subsequent execution of the imposed adult sentence. Appellant claimed that the District Court erred in concluding that the need for confinement outweighed the policies favoring continued probation. Noting that the District Court’s determinations were based on the facts of the record and did not reflect a legal error, the Court of Appeals discerned no abuse of discretion in revoking appellant’s EJJ status and executing the adult prison sentence. Affirmed.
A20-0490 State v. D.D. (Hennepin County)
Pro se petitioner challenged the District Court’s denial of his petition for postconviction relief after being convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, arguing that the District Court erred by finding that his petition was untimely. Noting that the petition was filed more than two years after his conviction became final, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not err by denying his petition for postconviction relief. Affirmed.
A20-1096 Abla-Salmeron v. State (Ramsey County)
In this direct appeal from his convictions for possession of child pornography, defendant challenged the calculation of his criminal-history score and argued that he must be resentenced because (1) the state failed to establish the offense dates for two of the four counts to which he pleaded guilty—facts necessary to determine the assignment of multiple custody-status points for those offenses and (2) the District Court imposed his sentences in the wrong order. The Court of Appeals concluded that, because defendant admitted to possession of pornography during the same period of time he remained on probation, his criminal-history score properly included two custody-status points. Furthermore, the District Court did not err in imposing sentences. Affirmed.
A20-0667 State v. Flantz (Anoka County)
In this direct appeal from a conviction for second-degree criminal sexual conduct, defendant argued that the District Court abused its discretion by denying his motion for a downward durational departure. Although there was evidence that defendant was genuinely remorseful, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not abuse its discretion by denying defendant’s durational-departure motion on this ground. Affirmed.
A20-0607 State v. Bilges (Hennepin County)
Defendant challenged his sentence for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, arguing that the District Court abused its discretion when it failed to consider defendant’s return to the state to face prosecution after fleeing to another country as a mitigating factor and imposed the maximum sentence in the range to which defendant agreed in his plea bargain. The Court of Appeals concluded that, even if the circumstances here were mitigating factors, the District Court was not compelled to consider them. Affirmed.
A20-0398 State v. Abdo (Hennepin County)
Statute of Limitations
Defendant, while a licensed attorney in private practice, was appointed trustee of a trust that had been established by a single woman who was dying of cancer for the benefit of her three children. Over a period of approximately seven years, defendant surreptitiously stole approximately $180,000 from the trust. He made multiple transfers of money from the trust’s accounts to his own accounts, and he used those funds to make personal expenditures. He concealed his crime by not giving the deceased woman’s children information about trust assets, by avoiding their requests for information or distributions, and by giving excuses for his non-responsiveness. Defendant eventually was removed as trustee but not until trust assets were reduced to approximately one-tenth of their original value. Defendant distributed less than a third of the original value of the trust to the deceased woman’s children before he was removed. After a court trial on stipulated facts, a judge found defendant guilty of theft by swindle of property valued at more than $35,000. On appeal, defendant challenged the timeliness of the prosecution and the legal sufficiency of the state’s evidence.
The Court of Appeals concluded that the five-year statute of limitations applicable to defendant’s offense of theft by swindle did not begin to run until defendant’s theft of trust assets was discovered. Noting that defendant withheld information from the children, avoided their communications, and gave them excuses for his non-responsiveness, the Court also concluded that the evidence was sufficient to prove that defendant committed a theft by swindle. And the Court concluded that the evidence was not insufficient on the ground that defendant transferred or spent more than $35,000 during periods longer than six months. Affirmed.
A20-0055 State v. Henline (Hennepin County)