Articles Posted in Commercial Law

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Whitney National Bank (Whitney) obtained a judgment against Daniel Fitzpatrick and his business entities (collectively, Fitzpatrick). In a separate matter, Fitzpatrick, represented by O’Brien & Wolf, LLP, obtained a judgment against the City of Oronoco. Whitney served a garnishment summons on the City to establish and perfect a garnishment lien against the judgment proceeds won by Fitzpatrick. O’Brien subsequently filed a motion to establish and determine the amount and priority of its attorney’s lien. The district court held that Whitney’s garnishment lien was superior to O’Brien’s attorney’s lien, concluding that a cause-of-action attorney’s lien is perfected, as against third parties, from the time the attorney files notice of the lien claim. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the plain language of Minn. Stat. 481.13(1)(a)(1) does not require an attorney with a cause-of-action attorney’s lien to file notice of the lien claim for the lien to have priority over third-party claims. View "City of Oronoco v. Fitzpatrick Real Estate, LLC" on Justia Law

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Nissan North America, Inc., a motor vehicle manufacturer, and Stephen McDaniels, a prospective Nissan dealer (collectively, Defendants), sought to relocate a Nissan dealership to a location 7.6 miles from a dealership operated by Wayzata Nissan, LLC. Wayzata filed an action against Defendants and then moved for a temporary restraining order, challenging the relocation under the Minnesota Motor Vehicle Sale and Distribution Act, Minn. Stat. 80E.01-.17. The district court denied the motion, determining that the exception in section 80E.14(1) for the “relocation of an existing dealer” applied. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed on the merits, holding (1) even though the relocation at issue has already occurred this appeal is not moot; (2) the notice and good-cause requirements of section 80E.14(1) apply on the date that a manufacturer develops the intention to authorize a relocation, not on the date of the physical relocation of a dealership; and (3) the existing-dealer exception does not apply when the relocation of a dealership is accompanied by a change in the person or entity operating the dealership, and therefore, the existing-dealer exception does not apply in this case. View "Wayzata Nissan, LLC v. Nissan N. Am., Inc." on Justia Law

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The property at issue in this case was the interest of Respondent, the judgment debtor, in a spendthrift trust. The district court issued a temporary injunction prohibiting Respondent from disposing of any money or property he had received, was due to receive, or will receive from the trust. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) based on its plain language, Minn. Stat. 575.05 authorizes a district court to enjoin the deposition of a judgment debtor's property only if that property is in the hands of the judgment debtor or a third party or is due to the judgment debtor at the time the district court issues its order; and (2) because the judgment creditor, Appellant Fannie Mae, did not argue that Respondent's interest in the trust was Grossman's property that was currently in the hands of Grossman or a third party or currently due to Grossman, the requirements of section 575.05 were not met. View "Fannie Mae v. Heather Apartments Ltd. P'ship" on Justia Law

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Appellants, Leland and Ilene Haugen and Haugen Nutrition and Equipment, defaulted on promissory notes held by respondent United Prairie Bank-Mountain Lake (UPB). The various loan agreements between the parties contained provisions in which Appellants agreed to pay UPB's reasonable costs and attorney fees associated with the protection of UPB's security interests and the enforcement of Appellants' obligation to repay the loans. The district court denied Appellants' motion to submit the question of reasonable attorney fees to the jury and subsequently awarded UPB over $400,000 in attorney fees. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that UPB's claim for the recovery of attorney fees was equitable in nature and thus did not give rise to a jury trial right under the Minnesota Constitution. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that Appellants were constitutionally entitled to a jury determination on UPB's claim for attorney fees because the nature of the claim was contractual and the remedy sought was legal. View "United Prairie Bank-Mountain Lake v. Haugen Nutrition & Equip., LLC" on Justia Law