EN BANC CALENDAR

Before the Minnesota Supreme Court

November 2005

 

SUMMARY OF ISSUES

Summaries prepared by the Supreme Court Commissioner’s Office.

 

Monday, October 31, 2005, 9:00 a.m., Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol

 

            Ronald Peterson, et al., Respondents vs. BASF Corporation, a foreign corporation, Appellant – Case No. C3-02-857:  Respondent farmers filed a class-action state-law consumer fraud suit against appellant BASF Corporation alleging BASF fraudulently marketed a herbicide used by respondents.  A jury found in favor of respondents.  The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) did not preempt respondents’ state-law claims.  The United States Supreme Court granted BASF’s petition for a writ of certiorari, vacated the judgment, and remanded the case to the Minnesota Supreme Court for further consideration in light of its decision in Bates v. Dow Agrosciences LLC, 125 S. Ct. 1788 (2005).  The case is before the court for reconsideration of FIFRA preemption in light of Bates.  (On remand from the United States Supreme Court.)

 

            State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Ardelle Hope Manthey, Appellant – Case No. A04-2468:  On appeal from her conviction for first-degree murder, appellant Ardelle Manthey presents the following issues for review:  (1) whether the state presented prejudicial evidence that denied Manthey her right to due process and a fair trial; (2) whether the district court erred in denying Manthey’s motion for a mistrial based on the jury receiving information regarding Manthey’s custody status; and (3) whether Manthey is entitled to a new trial based on her alleged failure to be present at all stages of the trial because the trial transcript does not indicate whether she was present when the district court discussed a question from the jury with counsel.  (On appeal from Aitkin County District Court.)

 

Tuesday, November 1, 2005, 11:00 a.m., Hamline University Law School, Moot Courtroom

 

 

Kevin Kelly, as Trustee for the heirs and next-of-kin of Kelly Ann Kelly, et al., Appellants vs. Jason Ellefson, Respondent, Steven Eidemiller, Defendant, Supreme Transport Services, L.L.C., et al., Respondents, Lido Café, Inc., a/k/a Lido’s Italian Market Café & Bar, Defendant – Case No. A04-615:  Appellant Kevin Kelly commenced a wrongful death action against respondent Jason Ellefson, one of the drivers involved in the car crash that resulted in the death of the decedent, and the restaurant where Ellefson had been drinking before the accident.  The restaurant settled and Kelly’s claims against Ellefson were tried before a jury.  At trial, the district court denied Ellefson’s request to introduce Kelly’s amended complaint and the restaurant’s discovery disclosures as evidence of the restaurant’s liability and refused to submit the issue of the restaurant’s comparative fault to the jury.  The jury found in favor of Kelly.  The court of appeals affirmed.  The issue on appeal is whether the district court erred in excluding the amended complaint and discovery disclosures.  (On appeal from Hennepin County District Court.)

 

Wednesday, November 2, 2005, 9:00 a.m., Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol

 

            Jerry’s Enterprises, Inc., Respondent vs. Larkin Hoffman Daly & Lindgren, Ltd., et al., Appellants – Case No. A04-188:  Appellants, individual attorneys and their law firm, represented respondent Jerry’s Enterprises in litigation regarding the terms of an option agreement.  Jerry’s Enterprises lost that litigation following a remand by the supreme court for the purpose of applying a new rule of law.  Jerry’s Enterprises then brought this legal malpractice action against appellants.  The district court granted appellants’ motion for directed verdict.  The court of appeals reversed, holding that it was a question of fact whether appellants had a duty to research and advise Jerry’s Enterprise that it was possible the law might change and that the district court erred in applying a “but for” standard rather than a proximate cause standard to the malpractice claim.  The issues on appeal are:  (1) whether a lawyer has a duty to predict, conduct research about, and advise a client of possible future changes in the law; (2) whether the “but for” standard for causation applicable to litigation malpractice applies to transactional legal malpractice; and (3) whether the district court erred in admitting opinion testimony about the status of the point of law on which the underlying case was decided.  (On appeal from  Hennepin County District Court.)

 

            NONORAL:  Kmart Corporation, Relator vs. County of Clay, Respondent – A05-590:  Relator Kmart Corporation attempted to serve a property tax petition challenging its 2003 tax assessment in Clay County by serving the Clay County Treasurer.  The process server personally delivered the petition and two other petitions to the Treasurer at 4:15 p.m. on the last day of the filing period.  The Treasurer reviewed the documents and then refused to sign the acknowledgments of service because it was 4:33 p.m. and her office closed at 4:30 p.m.  As a result of the delay, the processor server was unable to serve the county attorney or the county assessor, and was unable to file the documents with the court.  The process server then attempted to serve the petitions by facsimile on the county attorney, auditor, and treasurer.  The Tax Court dismissed the petition on the ground of untimely service.  The issues raised by Kmart on appeal are:  (1) whether the Tax Court erred in holding that service by facsimile did not satisfy the service requirements of Minn. Stat. § 278.01 (2004); (2) whether the Tax Court erred in holding that Kmart was required to personally serve the county attorney and county assessor and that Kmart failed to do so; and (3) whether the Tax Court erred in concluding that the county officials did not hinder Kmart’s effort to comply with the requirements of Minn. Stat. § 278.01.  (On appeal from the Tax Court.)

 

            NONORAL:  American Crystal Sugar Company, Relator vs. County of Clay, Respondent – Case No. A05-591:  Relator American Crystal Sugar Company (ACS) attempted to serve a property tax petition challenging its 2003 tax assessment in Clay County by serving the Clay County Treasurer.  The process server personally delivered the petition and two other petitions to the Treasurer at 4:15 p.m. on the last day of the filing period.  The Treasurer reviewed the documents for several minutes.  She then refused to sign the acknowledgments of service because it was 4:33 p.m. and her office closed at 4:30 p.m.  As a result of the delay, the processor server was unable to serve the county attorney or the county assessor, and was unable to file the documents with the court.  The process server then attempted to serve the petitions by facsimile on the county attorney, assessor and treasurer.  The Tax Court dismissed the petition on the ground of untimely service.  The issues raised by ACS on appeal are:  (1) whether the service of petitions conformed with the requirements of Minn. Stat. § 278.01 (2004); and (2) if not, whether ACS failure to timely serve the petition should be excused based on the conduct of county officials.  (On appeal from the Tax Court.)

 

Thursday, November 3, 2005, 9:00 a.m., Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol

 

In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Brian Todd Pierce, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 290038 – Case No. A05-847:  Attorney discipline matter that presents the issue of what discipline, if any, is appropriate based upon the facts of the matter.

 

State of Minnesota, Appellant vs. Anthony Osborne, Sr., Respondent – Case No. C1-03-253:  Respondent Anthony Osborne appealed a sentence of 225 months for importing a controlled substance across state lines on the ground the record did not establish aggravating factors to support the 67-month durational departure.  The court of appeals affirmed.  This court remanded to the court of appeals for reconsideration in light of Blakely v. Washington, 124 S. Ct. 2531 (2004), which held that any fact that increases the severity of a sentence beyond the presumptive sentence must be determined by a jury.  On remand, the court of appeals reversed Osborne’s sentence and remanded for resentencing.  The issues on appeal are:  (1) whether Osborne waived his claim to have a jury determine all facts relevant to the imposition of a durational departure by failing to raise the issue in district court; and (2) whether the jury necessarily found aggravating factors sufficient to support an upward durational departure in finding Osborne guilty on 28 counts related to his participation in the sale of controlled substances and conspiracy to commit controlled substance crime.  (On appeal from Olmsted County District Court.)

 

NONORAL:  Darby Jon Opsahl, Appellant vs. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case No. A04-1992:  On remand from the supreme court for an evidentiary hearing on appellant Darby Opsahl’s petition for postconviction relief from his conviction for first-degree murder, the district court denied the petition following a hearing.  The issues on appeal are:  (1) whether Opsahl is entitled to a new trial based on the recantation of testimony by witnesses; (2) whether Opsahl is entitled to a new trial based on alleged prosecutorial misconduct in the postconviction proceeding; and (3) whether Opsahl is entitled to a new trial in the interests of justice.  (On appeal from McLeod County District Court.)

 

Monday, November 7, 2005, 9:00 a.m., Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center

 

State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Brian Keith Edwards, Appellant – Case No. A04-2396:  On appeal from his conviction for first-degree murder, appellant Brian Edwards presents the following issues for review:  (1) whether the district court erred in instructing the jury on an aggressor’s right to self defense over Edwards’ objection; and (2) whether the district court erred in allowing testimony from the state’s expert that implied the expert had concluded that Edwards rather than the victim had fired his gun first.  (On appeal from Hennepin County District Court.)

 

NONORAL:  William J. McDonough, Appellant vs. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case No. A05-500:  On appeal from the denial of his petition for postconviction relief from his conviction for first-degree murder, appellant William McDonough presents the following issues for review:  (1) whether the district court erred in its instructions to the jury and its responses to questions from the jury; (2) whether the prosecutor engaged in misconduct warranting a new trial; (3) whether the district court had jurisdiction to try McDonough for first-degree murder; (4) whether McDonough’s right to a speedy trial was violated; and (5) whether McDonough received ineffective assistance of counsel.  (On appeal from Ramsey County District Court.)

 

Tuesday, November 8, 2005, 9:00 a.m., Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center

 

State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Anthony Phillip Scacchetti, Appellant – Case No. A03-301:  On remand from the Minnesota Supreme Court on appellant Anthony Scacchetti’s appeal from his convictions for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, third-degree assault, and malicious punishment of a child, the court of appeals held that the statements of the three-year-old victim made during a medical examination were admissible under Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004), and affirmed the convictions.  The issue on appeal is whether the admission of the victim’s statements violated the Crawford rule barring the admission of testimonial hearsay statements if the declarant is not subject to cross-examination.  (On appeal from Crow Wing County District Court.)

 

NONORAL:  Juan P. Gonzalez, Relator vs. Commissioner of Revenue, Respondent – Case No. A05-815:  The Tax Court affirmed an order of respondent Commissioner of Revenue determining that relator Juan P. Gonzales owed more than $13,000 in income taxes, interest, and penalties for the years 1996 through 2002.  On appeal, Gonzales asserts that because federal tax law does not require a taxpayer to file a state income tax return, he cannot be required to file a Minnesota income tax return and does not owe any Minnesota income tax.  (On appeal from the Tax Court.)

 

NONORAL:  Mwati P. McKenzie, Appellant vs. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case No. A05-629:  On appeal from the denial of his petition for postconviction relief from his conviction for first-degree murder, appellant Mwati McKenzie presents the following issues on appeal:  (1) whether the district court erred in denying McKenzie’s petition for postconviction relief without an evidentiary hearing; (2) whether McKenzie is entitled to a new trial based on the racial composition of the grand jury that indicted him for first-degree murder; and (3) whether McKenzie is entitled to a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel.  (On appeal from Hennepin County District Court.)