Appellant-client challenged the grant of summary judgment for respondents in this legal-malpractice case. Noting deposition testimony from appellant’s owner that appellant would not have entered into the lease if the cost-sharing change had been explained to him by respondent-attorney, the Court of Appeals concluded that appellant demonstrated the existence of genuine issues of material fact precluding summary judgment. Reversed and remanded.
A21-1182 Brandow Props., LLC v. Melander (Hennepin County)
Statute of Limitations
Appellant challenged the District Court’s summary-judgment dismissal of his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims as time-barred. The Court of Appeals concluded that the ongoing obligation to register as a predatory offender does not toll the statute of limitations and appellant’s suit commenced long after the six-year limitation period expired. Affirmed.
A21-1378 Franklin v. Evans (Ramsey County)
Child Protection; Termination of Parental Rights
In these consolidated appeals, appellants mother and father challenged the decision of the District Court to terminate their parental rights. Both appellants argued that the District Court erred in ruling that they failed to rebut the presumption that they were palpably unfit parents. Noting that the District Court did not discuss the easily rebuttable nature of the statutory presumption, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court’s analysis regarding the rebuttable presumption misapplied applicable law. Reversed and remanded.
A21-1617, A21-1683 In re Welfare of Child of D.M.P. (Becker County)
Respondent and appellant were married for five years before their marriage was dissolved. The District Court awarded the parties joint legal and joint physical custody of their one joint child, ordered a parenting-time schedule, and required respondent to pay child support to appellant. On appeal, appellant raised four issues. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not err by denying appellant’s motion for new trial based on respondent’s attorneys’ improper post-trial submissions; by granting respondent’s motion in limine or by excluding evidence of alleged domestic abuse; by not awarding appellant temporary, retroactive, or back child support; or by prohibiting appellant from video-recording parenting-time exchanges. Affirmed.
A21-0887 Elmi v. Hashi (Hennepin County)
Parenting Time; Modification
In this parenting time dispute, the District Court initially granted appellant’s emergency motion to temporarily suspend respondent’s parenting time and temporarily award sole physical and sole legal custody to appellant. After several months and based on recommendations from a guardian ad litem (GAL), the District Court ordered the parties to gradually increase respondent’s parenting time, return to an equal parenting time schedule, and return to a joint physical and joint legal custody arrangement. Appellant challenged the following four aspects of the decision: (1) the District Court’s denial of appellant’s request for an evidentiary hearing; (2) the District Court’s decision to return to an equal parenting time schedule; (3) the District Court’s denial of appellant’s request to allow the child to testify; and (4) the District Court’s failure to create a record of two telephone conferences. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not abuse its discretion in reaching its decisions with respect to the first three arguments and that appellant’s fourth argument was forfeited. Affirmed.
A21-0569 Klick v. Klick (Hennepin County)
Duty of Loyalty
Appellant, a distributor of Turkish buses, lost its sole supplier, gradually reduced the size of its workforce, and eventually ceased operations. One year later, the company sued two of its former employees, who had resigned and accepted employment with the company’s former sole supplier. The company alleged claims of breach of contract, breach of duty of loyalty, and misappropriation of trade secrets. The District Court granted the former employees’ motion for summary judgment on all three claims, primarily on the ground that the company did not have evidence sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact with respect to damages. Noting that there was no evidence in this case that respondents could have received increased compensation as a result of the alleged breaches of their employment agreements, and that there was no evidence that the large corporation purchased any motor coaches, parts, or services from the sole supplier after it terminated appellant’s exclusive distributorship agreement, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not err. Affirmed.
A21-1019 CH Bus Sales, Inc. v. Guldin (Hennepin County)
Crimes of Violence
Appellant challenged an order denying his petition for reconsideration of respondent-sheriff’s denial of appellant’s application for a permit to carry a handgun. In 2017, Davis pleaded guilty to felony controlled-substance distribution in North Dakota. The sheriff denied his application for a permit to carry because of this felony conviction. Appellant argued that the North Dakota District Court that convicted him restored his right to bear firearms, so he no longer had a conviction of a crime of violence. The Court of Appeals affirmed because Minnesota law, rather than North Dakota law, dictates what constitutes a crime of violence. Affirmed.
A21-1495 Davis v. Empting (Clay County)
Landlord & Tenant
Appellant-tenants argued that the District Court (1) erred by dismissing their declaratory-judgment action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and (2) abused its discretion by awarding attorney fees and costs to respondent-landlord. The Court of Appeals concluded that, even if it construed appellants’ complaint as giving fair notice of their theory that they failed to pay timely because they entered into negotiations for a new lease with respondent, the complaint still failed to state a viable claim, as parties remain bound by an existing agreement even pending negotiation of a new one. However, the District Court abused its discretion by imposing sanctions under rule 11. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
A21-1301 Boutain v. Peterson (Beltrami County)
In this probate dispute, pro se appellant-nephew argued that the District Court erred by determining that respondent had standing to petition for formal probate of the will and appointment of a personal representative. The Court of Appeals concluded that, because the decedent designated respondent as the successor personal representative in his will, she had standing to bring her petition. Affirmed.
A21-1232 In re Estate of Brandsrud (Hennepin County)
Appellants challenged the District Court’s denial of their motion for judgment as a matter of law and the court’s subsequent determination that an easement burdening appellants’ land allowed for ingress, egress, utilities, and drainage. The Court of Appeals found no error in the District Court’s determination that the quitclaim deed was ambiguous and concluded that reasonable evidence supported the District Court’s finding that the quitclaim deed was intended to modify only the easement’s width and location. Affirmed.
A21-1302 Bexell v. Brand (Anoka County)
Choice of Law
Appellants challenged the District Court’s order in a trust instruction proceeding (TIP) granting respondent-trustee’s petition to approve settlement in a residential mortgage-backed security (RMBS) trust lawsuit in New York. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court correctly determined that New York law governed and did not err by concluding that respondent acted reasonably and in good faith. Affirmed.
A21-1350, A21-1356 In re Merrill Lynch Mortg. Invs. Trust, Series 2006-RM4 (Ramsey County)
Relator challenged the determination of an unemployment law judge (ULJ) that relator was ineligible for unemployment benefits based on employment misconduct. Relator had been employed by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture as an agricultural advisor, and was terminated for inappropriate use of his state vehicle and computer, disrespectful communication and behavior, and deficient performance. The Court of Appeals concluded that substantial evidence supported the credibility determinations and factual findings of the ULJ. Affirmed.
A21-1153 Ballman v. Minn. Dep’t of Agric. (Dep’t of Emp’t & Econ. Dev.)
Relator challenged an unemployment law judge’s (ULJ) determination on reconsideration that she was ineligible for unemployment benefits. Relator argued the ULJ erred by finding relator’s testimony less credible than her employer’s testimony and by concluding that employer discharged relator for employment misconduct. The Court of Appeals deferred to the ULJ’s credibility determinations as they were supported by the record and found that the ULJ did not err by determining that relator failed to follow the reasonable policies of her employer. Affirmed.
A21-1218 Ferdig v. Nw. Minn. Juv. Ctr. (Dep’t of Emp’t & Econ. Dev.)
Appellant challenged the District Court’s order adjudicating her delinquent and ordering a disposition for misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Disorderly conduct, when committed by a juvenile, is treated as a juvenile petty offense rather than a misdemeanor unless an exception applies. The relevant exception in this case is if the juvenile was “found to have committed a misdemeanor” in a prior matter. Appellant argued that the District Court erred by applying this exception because, although she pleaded guilty to a prior misdemeanor offense and the District Court accepted her plea, the prior case was continued without adjudication and she was never adjudicated delinquent.
The Court of Appeals held that, for purposes of Minn. Stat. § 260B.007, subd. 16(c)(3), a juvenile was “found to have committed a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony offense” when the District Court accepted the juvenile’s guilty plea and found that the allegations supporting the delinquency petition were proved beyond a reasonable doubt, regardless of whether the District Court later continued the case without adjudication. Affirmed.
A21-1046 In re Welfare of A.J.S. (Anoka County)
Defendant challenged her conviction of malicious punishment of a child, arguing that the District Court abused its discretion by admitting recorded statements of the complainant and his brother, and that the jury’s verdict that she was guilty of malicious punishment, but not of domestic assault and fifth-degree assault, were legally inconsistent. Noting the findings that the statements were evidence of a material fact, that no other evidence was equally probative of this fact, and that the statements met the trustworthiness factors, the Court of Appeals found no abuse of discretion in admission of the recorded statements. Furthermore, there was no legal inconsistency in the jury’s verdicts. Affirmed.
A21-0988 State v. Both (Nicollet County)
Defendant challenged his convictions for first-degree and second-degree criminal sexual conduct, arguing that the District Court erred by (1) admitting a forensic interview of the child victim without an applicable exception to the hearsay rule, and (2) entering a judgment of conviction for the included offense of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. The Court of Appeals found that the guarantees of reliability for the forensic interview found by the District Court satisfied the trustworthiness requirement of Minn. R. Evid. 807. However, vacation of the conviction for the lesser-included offense of second-degree criminal sexual conduct was required. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
A21-0866 State v. Collins (Morrison County)
Defendant challenged the District Court’s revocation of his probation for his conviction of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court erred by determining the first Austin factor was satisfied because the condition it determined defendant violated—completion of sex offender treatment—was never actually imposed. Reversed and remanded.
A21-1438 State v. Ortiz (Nobles County)
Right to Speedy Trial
Reason for Delay
Defendant challenged his conviction for first-degree arson following a jury trial. He argued that the District Court violated his right to a speedy trial, that the trial evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, that the District Court committed reversible error by failing to formally enter a competency finding after his competency evaluation, that his waiver of trial counsel was invalid, and that the District Court plainly erred in its jury instructions. Noting that the delay in bringing defendant to trial was primarily attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic and to the suspension of the proceedings for a competency evaluation, the Court of Appeals concluded that it did not violate defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial. Furthermore, the state was not required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant acted unlawfully to convict him of arson, and, although the District Court plainly erred in failing to provide the jury with a specific-unanimity instruction, the error did not prejudice defendant. Affirmed.
A21-0854 State v. Satoskar (Dakota County)
Defendant challenged his felony DWI sentence, arguing that the District Court abused its discretion by denying his motion for a sentencing departure. Noting that defendant had six DWI-related convictions, including three felonies, the Court of Appeals concluded that the record did not support a durational departure, and the District Court did not abuse its discretion by denying the departure request. Affirmed.
A21-1255 State v. Osoro (Carver County)
Defendant appealed her conviction for controlled-substance possession, challenging the District Court’s denial of her pretrial motion to suppress drug evidence found in her purse during the search of a vehicle in which she was a passenger. Noting that the record showed that defendant’s purse was in the vehicle next to the center console where the marijuana was found, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not err by denying defendant’s motion to suppress the drug evidence. Affirmed.
A21-1332 State v. Schneider (Clay County)