EN BANC CALENDAR
SUMMARY OF ISSUES
Summaries prepared by the Supreme Court Commissioner’s Office
Monday, January 31, 2011
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol
State of Minnesota, Respondent v. Steven Dale Leathers, Appellant – Case Nos. A09-926 and A09-934: A jury found appellant Steven Leathers guilty of five counts of first-degree assault against a peace officer. Under Minn. Stat. § 609.221, subd. 2(b) (2010), a defendant convicted of assault against a peace officer “is not eligible for . . . supervised release, until that person has served the full term of imprisonment as provided by law.” The district court imposed concurrent sentences totaling 189 months and eventually ruled appellant would be eligible for supervised release after serving 126 months, which is two-thirds of his 189-month sentence. Respondent State of Minnesota filed a sentencing appeal, arguing that the district court erred when it ruled that appellant would be eligible for supervised release after serving 126 months. The court of appeals reversed the district court’s supervised-release-eligibility order.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether, under Minn. Stat. § 609.221, subd. 2(b), a defendant who is sentenced for first-degree assault against a peace officer is eligible for supervised release after serving two-thirds of his or her sentence. (Itasca County)
Timothy B. Allen, Appellant v. Burnet Realty, LLC, d/b/a Coldwell Banker Burnet, Respondent – Case No. A09-1963: Appellant Timothy Allen worked part time as a real estate sales associate for respondent Burnet Realty, LLC. During the time he was a real estate associate, Allen participated in an indemnification program provided by Burnet called the Legal Assistance Program (LA Program). The LA Program covers liability up to $1 million, and sales associates pay Burnet an annual fee to participate in the program. Burnet is not licensed to produce or issue insurance in Minnesota.
Allen sued Burnet and sought class-certification status on behalf of other former and current Burnet sales associates, alleging that Burnet unlawfully sold insurance through the indemnification program provided to sales associates in violation of Minn. Stat. § 60K.47 (2010); violated the Minnesota Consumer Fraud Act, Minn. Stat. §§ 325F.68-.70 (2010), by failing to inform sales associates that the indemnification program was an errors-and-omissions insurance policy; and unjustly enriched itself by selling unauthorized insurance and keeping the proceeds. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Burnet on Allen’s claims. The court of appeals affirmed.
The issues presented on appeal to the supreme court are: (1) whether the LA Program is insurance under Minnesota law; (2) whether a “principal object and purpose” test should be used to determine whether a particular agreement is insurance under Minnesota law; and (3) whether the court of appeals erred in affirming summary judgment on Allen’s consumer-fraud and unjust-enrichment claims. (Hennepin County)
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol
In re the Custody of: D.T.R., Michael L. Richards, Respondent v. Derek Reiter, Respondent, Lynette A. Marthe, Appellant – Case No. A10-1098: On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether a mother, who is a named party in a district court proceeding to determine paternity of her child, has standing to appeal a decision determining parentage. (Wright County)
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol
State of Minnesota, Plaintiff v. Walter Jamille Randolph, Defendant v. County of Rice, Intervenor, Respondent v. State Board of Public Defense, Intervenor, Appellant – Case No. A10-1557: Defendant Jamille Randolph was convicted of misdemeanor domestic assault. The district court appointed private counsel at county expense to represent Randolph on appeal. Respondent Rice County asked the district court to reconsider its order. After the State Board of Public Defense and Rice County were ordered to appear as parties, the district court ruled that the State Board of Public Defense was required to furnish and fund appellate counsel for Randolph and to pay for any necessary transcripts. The State Board of Public Defense appealed the district court’s order, and the supreme court granted the Board’s petition for accelerated review.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether a person convicted of a misdemeanor has a statutory right to representation by the public defender on appeal; (2) whether the district court exceeded its authority when it ordered the State Board of Public Defense to fund appointed counsel for Randolph’s misdemeanor appeal; and (3) whether the district court properly ordered the State Board of Public Defense to pay for transcripts for Randolph’s misdemeanor appeal. (Rice County)
Ronald Stagg, Respondent v. Vintage Place Inc., Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Appellant – Case No. A09-949: Respondent Ronald Stagg was employed by respondent Vintage Place Inc., a group home, where he worked the overnight shift as a counselor. After he was fired, Stagg applied for unemployment benefits and was denied on grounds of employment misconduct. Stagg obtained a writ of certiorari, and the court of appeals reversed the denial of unemployment benefits based on the employer’s failure to follow employee discipline procedures required by the employee handbook.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether an employer’s breach of an employment contract based on the employer’s failure to follow employee discipline procedures required by an employee handbook will prevent a finding that the employee was discharged for employment misconduct and is therefore ineligible for unemployment benefits under Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 4 (2010); and (2) whether the court of appeals’ decision is incompatible with the nature of unemployment-insurance proceedings because it will require unemployment-law judges to decide breach of contract claims. (Department of Employment and Economic Development)
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Hamline Law School
City of North Oaks, Appellant v. Rajbir S. Sarpal, et al., Respondents – Case No. A09-1961: Respondents Rajbir and Carol Sarpal built a house and later a swimming pool on a lot they had purchased in the City of North Oaks. In 2006, Rajbir Sarpal (Sarpal) decided to construct a garden/pool shed without hiring a general contractor. As part of the permitting process, Sarpal needed approval from a committee of the North Oaks Homeowners Association, which told him he needed to provide an “as-built survey with the location of the pool, pool equipment, fences and water feature.” Sarpal went to the City and asked about obtaining an as-built survey for his property. The clerk provided Sarpal with a survey that was attached to a group of documents identified as “As Built Report.” Sarpal asked the employee, “Is this the survey I need?” to which she responded, “Yes.” The survey, however, was not an as-built survey. Sarpal used the survey to obtain a building permit. The shed Sarpal built encroaches onto the setback and encroaches onto a private trail easement.
The City brought a petition for injunctive relief, seeking a court order requiring the Sarpals to relocate the shed. The Sarpals answered and raised the affirmative defense of equitable estoppel. After a bench trial, the district court concluded that the Sarpals had established the defense of equitable estoppel against the City. The City appealed, and the court of appeals affirmed.
On review before the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether a government employee’s good-faith, yet erroneous, representation of fact to a permit applicant is sufficient to satisfy the wrongful-conduct element of equitable estoppel; (2) whether the court of appeals erred when it determined that respondents’ measuring technique was reasonable; (3) whether the court of appeals erred when it determined that the respondents reasonably relied on the City clerk’s statement that the survey was an as-built survey; and (4) whether the court of appeals erred in concluding that the balancing of equities favored respondents. (Ramsey County)