EN BANC CALENDAR
SUMMARY OF ISSUES
Summaries prepared by the Supreme Court Commissioner’s Office
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol
Karl L. Anderson, Respondent vs. Frontier Communications and CNA/American Casualty Company of Reading, PA, Relators, and Twin City Spine Center, Intervenor – Case No. A11-0834: Respondent Karl Anderson worked as a telephone lineman for relator Frontier Communications from 1987 to July 4, 2007. On July 6, 2007, Anderson had back surgery; he has not returned to work. In May 2009, Anderson notified Frontier Communications that his back injury was work-related. A compensation judge found that Anderson knew by his last day of work in 2007 that his work aggravated his back and that Anderson’s notice to Frontier Communications was therefore untimely under Minn. Stat. § 167.141 (2010). The workers’ compensation court of appeals reversed.
Two issues are before the supreme court: (1) what knowledge on the part of the employee is required to trigger the duty to give notice of injury under Minn. Stat. § 176.141; and (2) whether employer Frontier Communications had notice of the compensable nature of Anderson’s injury within 180 days of the injury. (Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals)
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol
Eclipse Architectural Group, Inc., et al., Plaintiffs vs. Kevin Lam, et al., Defendants, Brickwell Community Bank, Appellant, Hunter Construction, Inc., et al., Respondents – Case No. A10-1607: Respondent Hunter Construction, Inc., was the general contractor for a renovation project on a hotel. To finance the renovation, the owner of the hotel obtained mortgage loans from appellant Brickwell Community Bank. The renovation project was never completed.
In an action involving claimed mechanic’s liens on the property, respondents Verde General Contractor and Hunter Construction sought to foreclose their mechanic’s liens. A bench trial was held during which the owner of Hunter Construction testified that he had personally delivered mechanic’s lien statements to the property owner on behalf of three mechanic’s lien claimants. After this testimony, the bank moved for a directed verdict against those claimants on the basis that the service requirements of Minn. Stat. § 514.08 (2010) and Minn. R. Civ. P. 4.02 were not satisfied because a party to the action had personally served the mechanic’s lien statements. The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether the personal service of a mechanic’s lien statement on a property owner or other appropriate person under Minn. Stat. § 514.08 may be accomplished by a person with an interest in the claimed mechanic’s lien; and (2) whether a mechanic’s lien statement is “a summons or other process” that is governed by the personal service requirements of Minn. R. Civ. P. 4.02. (Ramsey County)
Tammy Pepper, Respondent vs. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company a/k/a State Farm Fire and Casualty Company a/k/a State Farm Insurance Companies, Appellant – Case No. A10-2090: Respondent Tammy Pepper was injured when she was struck by a pickup truck owned and insured by her sister, but driven by her stepfather. The automobile insurance policy of Pepper’s sister paid its liability limit of $100,000. In addition, Pepper’s stepfather had two automobile insurance policies with appellant State Farm Automobile Insurance Company, which covered his liability for vehicles owned or driven by him. Pepper recovered $100,000 under the liability coverage of one of the State Farm policies, but she also sought underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits from the second State Farm policy, alleging that her sister was primarily at fault for the accident and that her sister was underinsured. The State Farm policy extends liability coverage for the use of a “non-owned car,” but it also states that an underinsured motor vehicle does not include a motor vehicle “insured under the liability coverage of this policy.” Because the truck was insured under the liability coverage of the State Farm policy while the stepfather was driving the truck, the truck was excluded from coverage for UIM benefits.
After State Farm denied the claim for UIM benefits, Pepper brought an action challenging the validity of the exclusion under the No-Fault Act, Minn. Stat. §§ 65B.41-.71 (2010). The district court granted State Farm’s motion for summary judgment. A divided court of appeals panel reversed and remanded.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is the enforceability under the Minnesota No-Fault Act of the policy provision stating that an underinsured motor vehicle does not include a motor vehicle insured under the liability coverage of the policy. (Roseau County)
Thursday, January 5, 2012
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol
Beuning Family LP, Petitioner vs. County of Stearns, Relator – A11-1479, A11-1480: These are two separate appeals involving challenges to the assessed value for property tax purposes of the same parcel of undeveloped land in Stearns County, but for different tax years. In one case, the Minnesota Tax Court granted partial summary judgment to respondent Beuning Family LP, and in the other case, the court denied relator Stearns County’s motion for summary judgment. In both cases, the Minnesota Tax Court entered an order pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. P. 54.02 directing entry of final judgment on the issues decided in the orders addressing the motions for summary judgment and determining that there was no just reason for delay of the entry of judgment. Stearns County appealed both cases.
These appeals have been consolidated for oral argument before the supreme court. The issue presented is whether the supreme court has jurisdiction to hear these appeals. (Minnesota Tax Court)
Non-Oral: Daniel Leonard Anderson, petitioner, Appellant vs. State of Minnesota, Respondent – A11-1006: In 2007, appellant Daniel Anderson was convicted after a jury trial of first-degree domestic-abuse murder, Minn. Stat. § 185(a)(6) (2010). The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed Anderson’s conviction on direct appeal. In March 2011, Anderson filed a petition for postconviction relief, alleging that he should have been indicted for first-degree child-abuse murder, Minn. Stat. § 185(a)(5) (2010), and that if he had been prosecuted for this offense, the State would not have been able to obtain a first-degree murder conviction. The district court summarily denied the petition.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether the claim Anderson raised in his petition for postconviction relief is procedurally barred; and (2) whether a person can be indicted for first-degree domestic-abuse murder when the victim is a minor child. (Wilkin County)
Monday, January 9, 2012
Judicial Center, Courtroom 300
John Doe 76C, Respondent vs. Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis, Appellant, Diocese of Winona, Appellant – Case No. A10-1951: In 2006, respondent John Doe 76C commenced suit against appellants Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and Diocese of Winona, alleging that a priest sexually abused Doe between 1980 and 1982 when he was a young teenager. Doe alleged that he did not know or have reason to know about the abuse until 2002 because he “suffered a traumatic amnesia, or memory repression, of the sexual abuse when he was a child.” Under the delayed discovery statute, Minn. Stat. § 541.073 (2010), an action for damages based on personal injury caused by sexual abuse or negligently permitting sexual abuse “must be commenced within six years of the time the plaintiff knew or had reason to know that the injury was caused by the sexual abuse.”
After holding a Frye-Mack hearing, the district court concluded that Doe’s proffered expert testimony in support of his theory of repressed memory should be excluded. The district court subsequently granted summary judgment in favor of appellants on the negligence and fraud claims, reasoning that Doe’s claims were untimely. The court of appeals reversed and remanded.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether the Frye-Mack standard governs the admissibility of memory repression evidence that is offered to establish a legal disability capable of tolling the statute of limitations; (2) whether Doe’s proffered expert testimony was admissible under Minn. R. Evid. 702; and (3) whether Doe’s fraud claims are untimely under the six-year statute of limitations in Minn. Stat. § 541.05, subd. 1(6) (2010). (Ramsey County)
Remodeling Dimensions, Inc., Appellant vs. Integrity Mutual Insurance Company, Respondent – Case No. A10-1992: Homeowners filed an arbitration demand against appellant Remodeling Dimensions, Inc., alleging liability for damage to their home. Remodeling Dimensions tendered the claim to respondent Integrity Mutual Insurance Company, which provided commercial general liability insurance. Integrity Mutual agreed to provide a defense pursuant to a reservation of rights and retained an attorney to represent Remodeling Dimensions in the arbitration proceeding. After the arbitrator issued a written award ordering Remodeling Dimensions to pay a total of $51,000 in damages, the attorney for Remodeling Dimensions requested that the arbitrator provide an explanation of the award. The arbitrator denied the request on the ground that neither party had requested an explanation of the award in writing before the appointment of the arbitrator, as required by the arbitration rules. Subsequently, Integrity Mutual refused to indemnify Remodeling Dimensions for the damages awarded in the arbitration.
Remodeling Dimensions brought an action in district court against Integrity Mutual for failure to provide indemnification. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court granted summary judgment to Remodeling Dimensions. The court of appeals reversed.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether Integrity Mutual may deny coverage after the attorney retained by the insurer to defend Remodeling Dimensions in the arbitration proceeding did not make a timely request for an explanation of the arbitration award; and (2) whether the court of appeals erred in concluding that the policy did not afford coverage as a matter of law. (Hennepin County)
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Judicial Center, Courtroom 300
In re: the Matter of the Financial Responsibility for the Out-of-Home Placement Costs for S.M. – Case No. A10-2127: This appeal concerns a dispute between appellant Brown County and respondent Nobles County over which county bears financial responsibility for social services provided to S.M., a minor child, after October 1, 2008. During the relevant time period, both the child and the child’s mother changed residences frequently.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services was asked to resolve the dispute under Minn. Stat. § 256G.10 (2010). The Department concluded that Nobles County is financially responsible for the services because it was the residence of the child’s mother, the parent with whom the child last lived. The district court reversed, concluding that Brown County is financially responsible because it was the county where the child last lived together with a parent. The court of appeals affirmed.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether the county that is financially responsible for social services provided to a minor child under Minn. Stat. § 256G.10 is the county where the child last lived together with a parent or the county of residence of the parent with whom the child last lived. (Nobles County)
State of Minnesota, Appellant/Cross-Respondent vs. Tito Fonzio Campbell, Respondent/Cross-Appellant – A10-0512: Following a jury trial, the district court convicted appellant Tito Campbell of several offenses, including gross-misdemeanor criminal vehicular operation and felony fleeing a police officer. Over Campbell’s objection, the district court imposed consecutive sentences using a criminal-history score of three to calculate the presumptive sentence for Campbell’s felony conviction. The court of appeals reversed Campbell’s sentence.
On appeal to the supreme court, two issues are presented: (1) whether a district court is required to use a criminal-history score of zero when imposing a felony sentence consecutive to a gross-misdemeanor sentence; and (2) whether the district court erred in assigning one criminal-history point to Campbell’s prior conviction for attempted robbery because Campbell received a gross-misdemeanor sentence for that offense. (Ramsey County).
Non-Oral: Kenneth Octavius Wallace, petitioner, Appellant vs. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case No. A11-1679: Following a jury trial, appellant Kenneth Wallace was convicted in 1995 of first-degree murder, attempted second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and second-degree assault. The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed those convictions on direct appeal. In April 2011, Wallace filed a petition for postconviction relief, contending that the felony-murder statute is unconstitutional, the trial court erred in imposing sentence on more than one offense, there was insufficient evidence to sustain his first-degree murder conviction, and ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. The district court summarily denied the postconviction petition.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether the district court abused its discretion in summarily denying Wallace’s petition for postconviction relief. (Hennepin County)
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Judicial Center, Courtroom 300
In the Matter of: The Pamela Andreas Stisser Grantor Trust Under Second Amendment and Restatement of Trust Agreement Dated June 6, 2001 – Case No. 10-1646: This case involves the obligations of the trustee of a trust to pay claims made by the surviving spouse of the grantor of the trust. The surviving spouse is not a beneficiary of the trust, but he is the personal representative of grantor’s estate. The trust agreement at issue instructed the trustee to pay a variety of debts, taxes, and expenses incurred by grantor’s estate upon her death, including “the expenses of my last illness, funeral, burial or other disposition, unpaid income and property taxes properly chargeable against my estate, expenses of administration of my estate, including my non-probate assets, and my legal debts.”
Litigation began with cross-petitions by the surviving spouse and trustee for construction of the trust agreement and other relief. The district court granted partial summary judgment to the trustee after concluding that the trustee was not obligated to pay grantor’s secured debts. After a court trial, the district court determined that the trustee was not obligated to pay compensation to the surviving spouse as the personal representative of the estate or for any attorney fees claimed by the estate. The court of appeals affirmed the district court in part, but a divided court of appeals panel reversed the district court’s determination that the trust was not required to pay one of the grantor’s secured debts, a margin loan secured by an investment account.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether the general directive to pay legal debts in the trust agreement requires the payment of secured debts; and (2) whether the district court erred in ruling that the trustee was not obligated to pay compensation to the surviving spouse as the personal representative of the estate or for any attorney fees claimed by the estate.
In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Steven Paul Lundeen, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 273776 – Case No. A11-0896: An attorney discipline case that presents the question of what discipline, if any, is appropriate based upon the facts of the matter.