Articles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court

by
The North Dakota State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors ("Board") appealed district court judgments affirming in part, reversing in part, and remanding to the Board its disciplinary decisions against Michael Berg, Apex Engineering Group, Inc., Scott Olson, Dain Miller, Thomas Welle, and Timothy Paustian. Respondents Berg, Olson, Miller, Welle and Paustian were former employees of Ulteig Engineers, Inc. Olson was terminated from Ulteig in 2009. In 2010, Berg, Miller, Welle, and Paustian resigned from Ulteig and, along with Olson, started a competing business, Apex. Following the Respondents' departure, Ulteig sued Apex and filed an ethics complaint with the Board, alleging Berg, Olson, Miller, Welle and Paustian violated the Professional Engineers' Code of Ethics by disclosing Ulteig's confidential information and failing to disclose a potential conflict of interest by not informing Ulteig of their decision to form Apex. Ulteig also alleged the Respondents knowingly participated in a plan to seek employment for Apex on projects that Ulteig had been contracted to perform before the Respondents' departure from Ulteig. The Board found that each of the Respondents had violated one or more of the provisions of the code of ethics. Respondents appealed the Board's disciplinary decisions to the district court. The court affirmed the Board's decision that Welle, Berg, and Miller failed to disclose a potential conflict of interest. The court reversed the determination that Miller, Welle, and Paustian had improperly disclosed confidential information. The court also reversed the decision that Berg, Olson, and Welle knowingly participated in a plan to seek employment for Apex on projects Ulteig had been contracted to perform before their departure from Ulteig. The court remanded to the Board for reconsideration the discipline imposed on Berg, Olson, Miller, Welle, and Paustian in light of the court's reversal of the disciplinary decisions. The court also awarded attorney fees to Berg, Welle, Apex, Olson, Miller, and Paustian. On appeal to the North Dakota Supreme Court, the Board argued the district court wrongfully reversed the Board's disciplinary decisions because the decisions were supported by a preponderance of the evidence. The Supreme Court concluded a preponderance of the evidence supported the Board's factual findings regarding the improper solicitation by Welle, Olson, Berg, and Apex. Those findings supported a conclusion that Welle, Olson, Berg, and Apex knowingly sought or accepted employment for professional services for an assignment for which Ulteig was previously employed or contracted to perform in violation of N.D. Admin. Code 28-03.1-01-12(6). The Supreme Court therefore reversed those parts of the district court's judgments relating to the violation of N.D. Admin. Code 28-03.1-01-12(6) by Welle, Olson, Berg, and Apex. View "Berg, et al. v. North Dakota State Board of Registration" on Justia Law

by
Shane Martin appealed an order denying his N.D.R.Civ.P. 60(b) motion for relief from default judgment. Martin was the biological father of Cheri Poitra's child, I.R.P. Martin and Poitra were unmarried tribal members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. In August 2017, Poitra began receiving services from Bismarck Regional Child Support Unit (BRCSU). The State sought to establish a child support obligation from Martin and served him with a summons and complaint. Martin completed a financial affidavit and returned it to BRCSU on October 8, 2017, but did not file an answer or other responsive pleading. On November 7, 2017, the State filed a N.D.R.Ct. 3.2 motion for default judgment. More than 21 days had passed since Martin was served and he had appeared but had not filed an answer or other responsive pleading. On November 17, 2017, Martin filed a notice of special appearance. The notice of special appearance did not contain an accompanying affidavit, motion, request for action, or response to the allegations. Instead, the notice stated only that Martin's attorney was entering a special appearance to contest "both subject matter and personal jurisdiction." Included with the notice was a copy of a summons and a petition for custody filed by Martin with the Turtle Mountain Tribal Court on November 16, 2017. A hearing on the "notice of special appearance" was held January 2018. During the hearing, the district court stated numerous times that the notice was not a motion on which the court could act and instructed Martin to file a motion. In February, 2018, the district court entered its findings of fact, conclusions of law, and order for judgment finding Martin in default. Judgment was entered February 21, 2018. Martin argues that his return of the financial affidavit and filing of a notice of special appearance was sufficient to preclude a default judgment under N.D.R.Civ.P. 55(a) and thus the district court erred in denying his Rule 60(b) motion. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed: the district court did not err in denying a Rule 60(b) motion for relief from judgment where Martin was properly provided notice and served with the motion for default judgment. View "North Dakota v. Martin" on Justia Law

by
Larry Alber appealed a January 2018 order amending a 2013 order which found Alber in contempt for failure to abate a nuisance on his property in compliance with a October 2003 judgment. He argued the judgment was satisfied when he filed reports of compliance with the district court and thus the property no longer contained a nuisance subject to abatement. The City of Marion ("City") argued the district court properly amended the 2013 order. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in amending its order to clarify that the nuisance on the property remained subject to abatement after Alber's conveyance of the property. The Court therefore affirmed the district court's amended order. View "North Dakota ex rel. City of Marion v. Alber" on Justia Law

by
The North Dakota Department of Transportation appealed a district court judgment reversing the Department's decision to suspend Dustin LeClair's driving privileges. The Department argued the district court erred in reversing its decision to suspend LeClair's license because the officer's recitation of the implied consent advisory, which excluded the word "punishable," substantially complied with N.D.C.C. 39-20-01(3)(a). After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court reversed the district court's judgment and reinstated the Department's decision to suspend LeClair's driving privileges. View "LeClair v. Sorel" on Justia Law

by
Nicholas Lechner appealed a judgment affirming an administrative order sustaining a Workforce Safety and Insurance ("WSI") order denying his claim for workers' compensation benefits. Lechner argued he proved by the greater weight of the evidence that he suffered a compensable injury and that his claim was timely. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, concluding the administrative law judge's finding that Lechner failed to file a timely claim for benefits is supported by a preponderance of the evidence. View "Lechner v. WSI" on Justia Law

by
Wilbur Paul Hunts Along appealed a judgment affirming the Department of Transportation's revocation of his driving privileges for two years. Hunts Along argued the Department failed to show that Hunts Along refused to submit to testing "under section . . . 39-20-14," and therefore revocation under N.D.C.C. 39-20-04(1) was improper. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the Department did not err in finding that Hunts Along refused to submit to an onsite screening test. View "Hunts Along v. N.D. Dep't of Transportation" on Justia Law

by
A.E., the mother of A.L.E., appealed a judgment terminating her parental rights. The record revealed that A.E. has struggled with substance abuse before and after A.L.E.'s birth. Her substance abuse resulted in multiple periods of incarceration. Her substance abuse required, at the time of the hearing, that A.L.E. be in foster care and in the custody of Social Services for 707 days of the days since her birth in 2015. A.E.'s drug usage has also adversely affected A.L.E.'s health. A.L.E.’s father did not participate in the termination proceedings and did not appeal termination of his parental rights. A.E., however, challenged the juvenile court’s determination that A.L.E. was deprived and that the causes of deprivation were likely to continue. Furthermore, she argued reasonable efforts were not made to reunify her with A.L.E. Because the juvenile court correctly applied the law, the record contains evidence to support the juvenile court's decision, and it was not left with a definite and firm conviction a mistake has been made, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Interest of A.L.E." on Justia Law

by
The City of Grand Forks appealed a district court order suppressing the results of Thomas Barendt's chemical breath test after the City charged Barendt with actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, concluding North Dakota's implied consent advisory had to be read after placing an individual under arrest and before the administration of a chemical test. View "City of Grand Forks v. Barendt" on Justia Law

by
In May 2016 Walsh County, North Dakota notified Jann Thompson she failed to pay her 2013 property taxes. The notice stated the County would foreclose on the property unless Thompson paid the taxes by October 1, 2016. Thompson previously attempted to pay the taxes with promissory notes and other instruments; however, they were not accepted by the County. On October 6, 2016, the County recorded a tax deed for the property due to Thompson's failure to pay the 2013 taxes. The County informed Thompson she had the right to repurchase the property before the tax sale by paying all outstanding taxes and costs against the property. On November 2, 2016, Thompson paid the 2013, 2014 and 2015 taxes and redeemed the property. Before paying the outstanding property taxes, Daniel and Jann Thompson sued Defendants the County auditor, the State Attorney, and the County Board of Commissioners, claiming the State had no authority to tax their property, and county officials improperly refused payment by not accepting the Thompsons' promissory notes. The Thompsons also alleged fraud, inverse condemnation and slander of title. The Thompsons subsequently filed a number of other documents and motions relating to their complaint. Defendants denied the Thompsons' allegations, and requested dismissal of the complaint and denial of the additional civil filings and motions. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, dismissing the claims. Finding the trial court did not err by dismissing the Thompsons’ claims, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Thompson v. Molde" on Justia Law

by
In August 2016, the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Revenue issued an order assessing personal liability against David Knapp, a North Dakota resident, for $65,843.80 in unpaid Minnesota sales and use taxes relating to his interest in a business in Bemidji, Minnesota. In December 2016, the Commissioner issued a third-party levy on securities held by broker Edward Jones for Knapp by sending a notice to Edward Jones at its Missouri office. The third-party levy said Edward Jones had to sell Knapp's securities under Minn. Stat. Ann. 270C.7101(7) and send the Minnesota Department of Revenue payment up to the amount due. The levy instructed Edward Jones not to send money that was exempt or protected from the levy and cautioned that state law allowed the Commissioner to assess debt to businesses, officers, or other individuals responsible for honoring the levy, including assessing the total amount due plus a twenty-five percent penalty. Knapp petitioned the district court to dissolve the levy and for a writ of prohibition against the Commissioner and Edward Jones to prohibit them from taking any further action to levy on his account. Knapp alleged that the Commissioner had no jurisdiction in North Dakota to levy on his North Dakota property and that his property was exempt from the levy. The district court issued a preliminary writ of prohibition to stay the levy pending the filing of an answer showing cause under N.D.C.C. 32-34-05, but later concluded Knapp failed to establish he was entitled to relief. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Knapp's petition for a writ of prohibition, and affirmed the judgment and the order. View "Knapp v. Commissioner of Minnesota Department of Revenue" on Justia Law