EN BANC CALENDAR
SUMMARY OF ISSUES
Summaries prepared by the Supreme Court Commissioner’s Office
Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center
Independent School District No. 12, Centennial, Respondent vs. Minnesota Department of Education, Appellant – Case No. A08-1600: The parents of a child with a disability filed a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Education, alleging that under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400-82 (2000), respondent Independent School District No. 12, Centennial, should have determined whether supplementary aids and services were necessary to enable their child to participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities that the parents identified for her. The district maintained that the student’s participation in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities was governed by section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (2000), instead of by the IDEA. After an investigation, the Department determined that the nonacademic and extracurricular activities identified by the parents should have been addressed in the student’s individualized education plan (IEP). The school district petitioned the court of appeals for certiorari. The court of appeals ruled that the district must provide supplementary aids and services for extracurricular and nonacademic activities, but only for those extracurricular and nonacademic activities that the student’s individualized education program team determines are required for the child’s appropriate education. Two issues are before the supreme court on the department’s appeal: (1) whether federal special education regulations limit the right of equal opportunity to such activities as are “necessary for the education of the student”; and (2) if the federal special education regulations are ambiguous, whether the Minnesota Department of Education properly construed them. (Minnesota Department of Education)
In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Jill M. Waite, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 191152 – Case No. A08-2097: A lawyer discipline case that presents the question of what discipline, if any, is appropriate under the facts of the matter.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010, 9:00 a.m.
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol
In re the Marriage of: Daniel E. Hemmingsen, Appellant vs. Claudia J. Hemmingsen, Respondent – Case No. A08-1136: The marriage between appellant Daniel Hemmingsen and respondent Claudia Hemmingsen was dissolved in 1998. After Daniel retired at age 65, he moved to terminate his spousal maintenance obligation, citing the reduction in his income after retirement; Claudia countered that Daniel had retired in bad faith. The district court denied the motion for reduction of maintenance, concluding that when a maintenance obligee raises a colorable claim of bad faith, the maintenance obligor must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the change in the obligor’s circumstances was not primarily influenced by a specific intent to decrease maintenance, and that Daniel had failed to meet his burden of proof. A divided court of appeals affirmed, holding that retirement at the normal or customary retirement age weighs strongly in favor of, but is not conclusive of, a finding of retirement in good faith. On appeal to the supreme court, the issue is whether retirement at the customary age should presumptively demonstrate that the retirement was in good faith and whether the burden should then shift to the maintenance obligee to produce evidence sufficient to overcome the presumption. (Olmsted County)
State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Jeremy Jason Hull, Appellant – Case No. A09-220: Appellant Jeremy Hull was convicted after a jury trial of first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree intentional murder committed during an aggravated robbery. During trial, Hull conceded that he had caused the victim’s death but disputed whether he done so intentionally. Hull presents the following issues to the supreme court: (1) whether the district court erred in limiting a pretrial hearing on the scientific validity of the fingerprint and handwriting identification evidence, offered by the prosecution to support that the victim’s death was premeditated, to the question of whether the particular fingerprint and handwriting evidence offered by the prosecution had foundational reliability, and not considering whether fingerprint and handwriting identification are generally accepted in the scientific community; and (2) whether the district court err in admitting, without objection from the defense, statements by the victim made shortly before his disappearance that Hull had previously stolen money from him, that he was meeting Hull to recover some of the stolen funds, and to call the police if he did not return in an hour. Hull raises additional issues in a pro se supplemental brief. (Mille Lacs County)
Wednesday, February 3, 2010, 9:00 a.m.
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol
Beat L. Krummenacher, Appellant vs. City of Minnetonka, Respondent, JoAnne K. Liebeler, Respondent – Case No. A08-1988: Respondent JoAnne Liebeler applied to respondent City of Minnetonka for a variance to allow her to build a finished structure, to be used as a family room and yoga and craft studio, on top of the flat roof of a detached nonconforming garage on her property. Appellant Beat Krummenacher, one of Liebeler’s neighbors, opposed the variance. The city granted the requested variance; Krummenacher appealed to the district court. In connection with his appeal, Krummenacher served Liebeler with written discovery requests, which Liebeler declined to answer. The district court ruled that it would allow Krummenacher to conduct discovery only if the court determined that the city’s decision to grant the requested variance was unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious. In a second order, the district court concluded that the city’s decision to grant the variance was not unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious. The court of appeals affirmed. Three issues are before the supreme court: (1) whether the city’s decision to grant the variance was unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious; (2) whether the city was prohibited from granting the variance by Minn. Stat. § 462.357, subd. 1e(a) (2008), which authorizes municipalities to grant variances from zoning standards when strict enforcement of such zoning standards would cause undue hardship; and (3) whether Krummenacher should have been allowed to conduct discovery during his appeal to the district court from the city’s decision. (Hennepin County)
Premier Bank, Appellant vs. Becker Development, LLC, et al., Respondents, Nancy C. Buehler, et al., Respondents, Pamela J. Noll, Respondent, Bauerly Brothers, Inc., Respondent, Kuechle Underground, Inc., Respondent, John Oliver & Associates, Inc., Respondent and Premier Bank, Appellant vs. Boone Builders, Incorporated, et al., Respondents, Kuechle Underground, Inc., Respondent, John Oliver & Associates, Inc., defendant and third-party plaintiff, Respondent vs. Boone Family Investments, LLC, et al., third-party defendants, Respondents – Case Nos. A08-1252 and A08-1700: Appellant Premier Bank made loans to respondent Becker Development, LLC, for development of 40 acres of raw land in the City of Becker, which were secured by a mortgage against the property. Becker Development contracted with respondent Kuechle Underground, Inc., for grading of the property and installation of sewers, roads, and sidewalks in the development. Under Minn. Stat. § 514.09 (2008), Kuechle Underground could file a mechanic’s lien for its “entire claim, embracing the whole area so improved,” or apportion its lien “between the several improvements, and assert a lien for the proportionate part upon each, and upon the ground appurtenant to each, respectively.” Kuechle Underground perfected a blanket mechanic’s lien covering all of the lots in the development.
Premier Bank modified its loan by releasing its mortgage lien on 12 of the lots in the development. Respondent Boone Builders, Inc., constructed model homes on three of the lots released from the bank’s mortgage. Becker Development defaulted on its loans from Premier Bank and failed to pay Kuechle Underground for its work. Premier Bank moved to foreclose its mortgages; Kuechle Underground also moved to foreclose its mechanic’s lien against the three lots on which model homes were constructed, which were among the 12 lots on which the bank had released its mortgage lien. The district court ruled that the bank’s mortgage had priority over all mechanic’s liens with respect to the property that was not released from the bank’s mortgage. As to the lots released from the bank’s mortgage, the district court ruled that Kuechle Underground’s mechanic’s lien had priority. The district court further ruled that Kuechle Underground was not required to apportion its mechanic’s lien among all the lots in the development, but rather could satisfy its lien by foreclosure against any of the lots as to which its lien had priority. The court of appeals affirmed. Before the supreme court, the issue is whether a mechanic’s lien claimant that files a blanket lien may foreclose its lien against less than all of property subject to the lien. (Sherburne County)
Thursday, February 4, 2010, 9:00 a.m.
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol
Mary Lickteig, Plaintiff/Appellant vs. Robert Kolar, Jr., Defendant/Appellee – Case No. A09-1728: The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has certified the following questions to the Minnesota Supreme Court: (1) whether Minnesota recognizes a cause of action by one sibling against another sibling for sexual abuse that allegedly occurred when they were both children and, if so, what are the elements of that cause of action; (2) whether intrafamilial immunity applies between siblings for a sexual abuse tort or battery tort committed when both were unemancipated minors living in the same household, where the lawsuit is not brought until both are emancipated adults living in separate households; and (3) whether the statute of limitations under Minn. Stat. § 541.073 (2008) applies retroactively to the plaintiff’s action, where she was allegedly sexually abused as a minor between 1974 and 1977 but alleges that, because of repressed memories, she did not remember the abuse until 2005. (Certified Questions from United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit)
In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Lisa Jane Mayne, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 308705 – Case No. A08-1522: A lawyer discipline case that presents the question of what discipline, if any, is appropriate under the facts of the matter.