Please take the our Access and Fairness Survey. Your feedback is important to us. Responses to the survey will inform website improvements.
Please take the survey after you have completed your business on the Judicial Branch website. Thank you for your participation.
X

EN BANC CALENDAR

Before the Minnesota Supreme Court

March 2017

SUMMARY OF ISSUES

Summaries prepared by the Supreme Court Commissioner’s Office

Monday, February 27, 2017

Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol Building, Second Floor

 

State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Josue Robles Fraga, Appellant – Case No. A16-0726: Following a jury trial, appellant Josue Fraga was found guilty of several offenses, including first-degree murder while committing criminal sexual conduct. The district court sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of release.

 

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether the district court violated Fraga’s right to present a defense; (2) whether the district court erred in its evidentiary rulings; (3) whether the cumulative effect of the alleged errors deprived Fraga of his right to a fair trial; and (4) whether the district court erred in its sentencing order. (Nobles County)

 

Nonoral: Scott R. Schuette, Relator vs. City of Hutchinson and Self-Insured/Berkley Risk Administrators, Respondents – Case No. A16-1183: Employee Scott Schuette sought workers’ compensation benefits for consequential back and shoulder injuries incurred in connection with a post-traumatic stress disorder-induced nightmare. The compensation judge dismissed the petition as barred by res judicata and the statute of limitations. The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals affirmed.

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether Schuette’s claim is barred by the doctrine of res judicata or the statute of limitations; (2) whether Schuette’s 2005 and 2008 injuries are compensable under the applicable law; and (3) whether Schuette’s claim should be heard and awarded in the interest of justice. (Workers Compensation Court of Appeals)

 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol Building, Second Floor

 

Appeal of John Krenik to a Vehicle Abatement Order at 1270 Cleveland Avenue – Case No. A15-1566: Appellant John Krenik owns two collector vehicles that he stores outdoors on his property located in respondent City of Saint Paul. After visiting Krenik’s property, an inspector issued an abatement order, stating that the storage of the vehicles violates Minn. Stat. § 168.10, subd. 1e (2016), which requires collector vehicles to be “screened from ordinary public view by means of a fence, shrubbery, rapidly growing trees or other appropriate means.”

 

Krenik appealed the order and requested a hearing. By the time of the hearing, Krenik had covered the vehicles with a tarp and placed a portable wooden fence in front of the vehicles. The Saint Paul City Council denied Krenik’s appeal. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the tarps and fence “do not screen the collector vehicles’ presence from ordinary public view.” The court of appeals also concluded that the City Council “adequately explained its decision and did not act arbitrarily.”

 

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether a fence and opaque covering satisfy the requirement of Minn. Stat. § 168.10, subd. 1e, that a collector vehicle be “screened from ordinary public view”; and (2) whether the City Council decision was supported by a legally valid basis and articulated reasons. (Saint Paul City Council)

 

State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Tiffany Nicole Phillips, Appellant – Case No. A16-0129: Appellant Tiffany Phillips was arrested on suspicion of driving while impaired (DWI). A police officer read Phillips the implied-consent advisory, which stated, in part, that refusal of a test is a crime. The officer asked Phillips to take a blood test, and she agreed. An analysis of the blood sample taken from Phillips showed an alcohol concentration greater than 0.20.

Respondent State of Minnesota charged Phillips with two counts of second-degree DWI. Phillips filed a motion to suppress her blood-test results, arguing that the reading of the implied-consent advisory violated her due process rights. The district court denied the motion. Following a stipulated-facts trial on the DWI count based on Phillips’s alcohol concentration, the district court found Phillips guilty. Although the court of appeals reversed Phillips’s conviction and remanded to the district court, the court of appeals rejected Phillips’s due process argument.

 

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether due process is the proper framework in which to evaluate Phillips’s constitutional challenge; and (2) whether the reading of the implied-consent advisory violated Phillips’s due process rights because the implied-consent advisory misinformed her of the consequences of refusing a test. (Scott County)

 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol Building, Second Floor

 

City of Rochester, Appellant vs. Franklin P. Kottschade, et al., Respondents – Case No. A16-1203: Appellant City of Rochester and respondents Franklin P. Kottschade, et al., have been engaged in multiple disputes over the development of real estate. In 2010, the parties entered into a mediated settlement agreement that contained an arbitration clause. After other disputes arose, the parties disagreed on whether the settlement agreement required the disputes to be arbitrated. This disagreement reached the district court, which issued an order compelling arbitration. Judgment was entered pursuant to the district court’s order for judgment.

 

The City appealed, but the court of appeals dismissed the appeal “as taken from a nonfinal order and judgment.” The court of appeals concluded that “[a]n order granting a motion to compel arbitration is not an appealable order” under Minn. Stat. § 572B.28 (2016).

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether the district court order and resulting judgment were appealable. (Olmsted County)

 

In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Patrick Chinedu Nwaneri, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 0322003 – Case No. A16-0057: An attorney discipline case that presents the question of what discipline, if any, is appropriate based on the facts of the matter.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol Building, Second Floor

In the Matter of the Appeal by Kind Heart Daycare, Inc. of the Order of License Revocation and the Appeal by Yasmin Muhina Salim of the Disqualification Determination – Case No. A15-1470: Following a county investigation of the billing practices of appellant Kind Heart Daycare, appellant Salim (Kind Heart’s owner), was charged with wrongfully obtaining child care assistance funds through the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), in violation of Minn. Stat. § 256.98, subds. 1(1), (3) (2016), by submitting fraudulent bills. Subsequently, the Department of Human Services (DHS) disqualified Salim from any position allowing direct contact with persons receiving services from programs licensed by DHS, and revoked Kind Heart’s license because of failure to comply with applicable rules and because Salim, Kind Heart’s controlling individual, had been disqualified.

 

Salim’s appeal of the disqualification and Kind Heart’s appeal of the license revocation were consolidated and a 4-day contested hearing was held before an administrative law judge (ALJ), which recommended affirming the disqualification, but setting it aside under Minn. Stat. § 245C.22, subd. 4 (2016) because the purpose of Salim’s activity was to aid families in obtaining access to child care, and Salim did not pose a risk of harm to persons served by Kind Heart, the County, or the Department. The ALJ also recommended that Kind Heart’s license revocation be rescinded. The Commissioner of Human Services, reviewing the ALJ’s recommendations, concluded that Salim’s disqualification should not be set aside, and therefore the revocation of Kind Heart’s license was affirmed. Appellants sought review by the court of appeals, which affirmed.

 

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether the initial decision to disqualify Salim, based on the erroneous application of a probable cause standard, vitiates her disqualification when the ALJ and Commissioner affirmed the disqualification under the correct preponderance-of-the-evidence standard; (2) whether DHS has acted arbitrarily or capriciously; (3) whether Kind Heart’s bills to CCAP for days in which children were absent were fraudulent under Minn. Stat. § 119B.13, subd. 7(a) (2016); and (4) whether Salim may be held liable under Minn. Stat. § 256.98 for her employee’s actions in submitting erroneous bills. (Commissioner of Human Services)

 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center

 

State of Minnesota, Appellant vs. Harrison William Rund, Respondent – Case No. A16-0133: Respondent Harrison Rund was stopped and ticketed for speeding. Later, Rund began communicating with a friend on Twitter, sending several disparaging and threatening messages about the St. Paul Police. Rund, charged with terroristic threats, a felony, eventually pleaded guilty. He explained to the court that the tirade started as a joke that went too far, though he did not intend to frighten anyone. At sentencing, over the State’s objection, the court granted Rund’s request for a mitigated durational departure. Instead of the presumptive, stayed sentence of one year and one day in prison, the court imposed, and stayed, a sentence of 365 days in jail, a gross-misdemeanor sentence. The court articulated a number of grounds for the departure, including Rund’s young age, his lack of intent to harm, his remorse, and his law-abiding behavior during the two years the case was pending.

 

The State appealed and a divided panel of the court of appeals affirmed. The majority held that while some of the district court’s reasons for departing were improper, the departure was otherwise supported by the record. The dissent concluded the departure was unsupported by evidence of any “substantial and compelling” offense-related mitigating factors.

 

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether an offender’s “youthful indiscretion” is an offense-based factor that will support a mitigated durational sentencing departure; (2) whether an offender’s lack of intent will support a mitigated durational departure when sentencing for terroristic threats; and (3) whether threats communicated by social media are less egregious than those communicated by mail, phone, or in person. (Dakota County)

 

State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Montrell Maurice Webster, Appellant – Case No. A16-0894: Following a jury trial, appellant Montrell Webster was found guilty of first-degree murder while committing an aggravated robbery. The district court sentenced him to life in prison with the possibility of release after 30 years.

 

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether the evidence is sufficient to prove that appellant caused the death of the victim during the commission of an aggravated robbery; and (2) whether the district court committed plain error in its jury instructions. (Hennepin County)

 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center

 

Joseph W. Frederick, Appellant vs. Kay L. Wallerich, et al., Respondent – Case No. A15-2052: In 2006, appellant Frederick engaged respondent Wallerich and her law firm to prepare an antenuptial agreement. Frederick and his then-fiancée executed the agreement, but it was not witnessed, as is required by Minn. Stat. § 519.11, subd. 2 (2016). Frederick alleges that the failure to comply with the statute was the result of respondents’ negligence. The day after the execution, Frederick and his fiancée married. Respondents continued to advise and represent Frederick from 2007 through 2011 on issues relating to estate planning and asset protection. He alleges that during this time respondents affirmatively but negligently represented and advised that the antenuptial agreement was valid and enforceable. In 2013, Frederick’s wife filed for divorce, and eventually all parties learned that the antenuptial agreement was likely unenforceable because it was not witnessed.

 

Frederick sued respondents on theories including legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligent or reckless misrepresentation. The district court granted respondents’ motion for judgment on the pleadings, ruling that all of Frederick’s claims were barred by the 6-year statute of limitations. The court of appeals affirmed, ruling based on Antone v. Mirviss, 720 N.W.2d 331 (Minn. 2006), that all of Frederick’s claims accrued on the day of his marriage.

 

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether, in a legal malpractice action, with related breach of fiduciary duty and negligent or reckless misrepresentation claims, multiple acts of negligence trigger separate statute of limitations periods for each negligent act that was pleaded. (Blue Earth County)

 

In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Steven Michael O’Brien, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 0389745 – Case No. A15-2042: An attorney discipline case that presents the question of what discipline, if any, is appropriate based on the facts of the matter.

 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

 

Nonoral: Maria E. Garcia, Respondent vs. Wal-Mart, and Claims Management, Inc., Relators – Case No. A16-1221: Employee Maria Garcia filed a claim for permanent partial disability benefits, alleging repetitive trauma due to her work activities. The compensation judge found that Garcia provided Wal-Mart timely notice of the occurrence of the injury. The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) affirmed.

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether the compensation judge erred when it found that Garcia’s awareness of the injury did not occur until the doctor explained the injury to her; and (2) whether the compensation judge and the WCCA erred in concluding that the notice of injury was timely under Minn. Stat. § 176.141 (2016). (Workers Compensation Court of Appeals)