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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the district court concluding that a grain-handling contract between the parties in this case that was to “continue indefinitely” was perpetual in duration, not indefinite, and therefore not terminable at will. Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company, LLLP (CVEC) sought to end its contract with Glacial Plains Cooperative on the ground that it was a contract of indefinite duration, terminable at will be either party. The district court ruled in favor of Glacial Plains, finding that CVEC had wrongfully terminated the grain-handling contract. The court of appeals affirmed, ruling that the intent of the parties should prevail over the general rule that contract without definite duration are terminable at will upon reasonable notice. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings, holding (1) the parties’ contract was one of indefinite duration and was therefore terminable at will by either party upon reasonable notice after a reasonable time as passed; and (2) it is for the district court to weigh the evidence and apply the law to determine whether a reasonable time has passed such that the contract may be terminated at will with reasonable notice. View "Glacial Plains Cooperative v. Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for first-degree murder, holding that any error in the admission into evidence of testimony from Defendant’s physicians and a burn expert did not substantially influence the verdict. During trial, the district court ruled that Defendant waived his medical privilege. On appeal, Defendant argued that the admission of information from his medical records and the testimony from his treating physicians was erroneous and prejudicial. The Supreme Court held (1) Defendant forfeited review of the admission of the medical records; and (2) even if the district court’s admission of the medical information was erroneous, Defendant was not entitled to relief under the plain error standard because he did not demonstrate that the admission of the evidence affected his substantial rights. View "State v. Vasquez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the district court’s summary denial of Appellant’s ninth petition for postconviction relief, holding that Appellant’s petition was time barred or otherwise rested upon a meritless legal theory. Appellant was convicted of first- and second-degree murder. Thirty years later, Appellant filed the instant petition for postconviction relief, arguing that he was actually innocent because the forensic scientist was unable to match his DNA profile to the male DNA found on the victim’s body. The district court summarily denied the petition, determining that lab reports did not establish Appellant’s actual innocence. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by summarily denying Appellant’s petition for postconviction relief without holding an evidentiary hearing. View "Wayne v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The common law governs provisions of an antenuptial agreement that do not fall within the safe harbor of Minn. Stat. 519.11(1), and the multifactor Kinney test is the common-law test applicable to antenuptial agreements. See In re Estate of Kinney, 733 N.W.2d 118 (Minn. 2007). Wife petitioned for dissolution and moved to set aside the antenuptial agreement she signed just before her marriage. The district court invalidated the agreement, concluding that it was procedurally unfair because Wife did not have an adequate opportunity to meet with legal counsel of her own choice and that it was substantively unfair and the time it was made and executed. The court of appeals affirmed on different grounds, concluding (1) to the extent the district court relied on Minn. Stat. 519.11 for evaluating procedural fairness, the court erred; (2) agreements that purport to distribute marital property, such as the agreement in this case, must be evaluated under the common law; and (3) the agreement was procedurally unfair. The Supreme Court affirmed after applying the Kinney factors to the entire agreement, holding that this agreement did not satisfy the common law test for procedurally fairness, and therefore, the agreement was invalid and unenforceable. View "Kremer v. Kremer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts, Family Law

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In a proceeding to terminate parental rights that is governed by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA), qualified expert witness testimony is required to support the determination that continued custody of the child by the parent is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child. The district court terminated the parental rights of Mother and Father, concluding that ICWA and MIFPA applied to the proceedings and that the laws’ requirements had been satisfied. The court of appeals reversed in part, holding that the district court erred in failing expressly to find under ICWA and MIFPA that continued custody of the child by the parent was likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child. On appeal, the district court stated as much in a one-sentence addendum to its findings of fact and conclusions of law. The court of appeals affirmed the district court’s termination decision. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the district court erred in terminating Father’s parental rights because the qualified expert witness’s testimony did not support the court’s determination that continued custody of the children by Father would likely result in serious damage to the children. View "In re Welfare of Children of S.R.K. & O.A.K." on Justia Law

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The limited right to counsel recognized in Friedman v. Commissioner of Public Safety, 473 N.W. 2d 828 (Minn. 1991), applies only to implied-consent cases. The district court in this case suppressed the results of a urine sample provided by Defendant at a jail after his arrest for driving while impaired (DWI) because the sheriff’s deputy, when asking Defendant if he would consent to urine testing, failed to read the implied-consent advisory that would have advised Defendant of his right to counsel. The court concluded that, by failing to read the advisory, the deputy failed to allow Defendant to vindicate his right to counsel prior to testing. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because the officer did not read the implied-consent advisory in this case, under Friedman, the limited right to counsel was not triggered; and (2) therefore, the district court erred in suppressing the urine test results on that ground. View "State v. Hunn" on Justia Law

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The clear-and-convincing standard applies when determining the existence of an oral contract for the conveyance of farmland when only money damages are sought for the claimed breach of that contract. Plaintiff argued that the Estates of his parents were obligated under an oral contract for the sale of land to convey farm property to him. After a second trial, the jury found by a preponderance of the evidence that an oral contract existed between Plaintiff and his parents and awarded Plaintiff damages for the breach of that contract. The Estates moved for judgment as a matter of law and a new trial, arguing that the district court instructed the jury on the incorrect standard of proof. The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the matter to the district court for a new trial, holding (1) the clear and convincing evidence is required to prove that an oral contract for the sale of land existed, regardless of whether the party seeks damages or specific performance; and (2) therefore, the district abused its discretion in denying Plaintiff’s motion for a new trial. View "Christie v. Estate of Dilman Christie" on Justia Law

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Claims brought against the manufacturer of a component part of an improvement to real property fell under an exception to the ten-year statute of repose because the improvement was “machinery installed upon real property.” See Minn. Stat. 541.051. Appellant manufactured the motor in a home’s heat-recovery ventilator. Sixteen years after the ventilator was installed, a fire started in the ventilator, causing property damage to the home. Respondent, the insurer of the homeowners, brought this subrogation action against Appellant. The district court granted summary judgment for Appellant, concluding that the ten-year statute of response for improvements to real property barred every claim except the claim alleging a post-sale duty to warn, which claim it dismissed upon summary judgment. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) under the plain language of section 541.051, the ventilator containing Appellant’s motor was “machinery installed upon real property,” and therefore, the court of appeals properly reinstated Respondent’s breach of warranty, negligence, and product liability claims; and (2) Appellant did not have a duty to warn consumers of its product’s alleged defect after the time of sale. View "Great Northern Insurance Co. v. Honeywell International, Inc." on Justia Law

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Claims brought against the manufacturer of a component part of an improvement to real property fell under an exception to the ten-year statute of repose because the improvement was “machinery installed upon real property.” See Minn. Stat. 541.051. Appellant manufactured the motor in a home’s heat-recovery ventilator. Sixteen years after the ventilator was installed, a fire started in the ventilator, causing property damage to the home. Respondent, the insurer of the homeowners, brought this subrogation action against Appellant. The district court granted summary judgment for Appellant, concluding that the ten-year statute of response for improvements to real property barred every claim except the claim alleging a post-sale duty to warn, which claim it dismissed upon summary judgment. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) under the plain language of section 541.051, the ventilator containing Appellant’s motor was “machinery installed upon real property,” and therefore, the court of appeals properly reinstated Respondent’s breach of warranty, negligence, and product liability claims; and (2) Appellant did not have a duty to warn consumers of its product’s alleged defect after the time of sale. View "Great Northern Insurance Co. v. Honeywell International, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decisions of the court of appeals and district court that Respondent’s due process rights were violated when he was read an inaccurate implied consent advisory after his arrest on suspicion of driving while impaired. Respondent refused to submit to either a urine or a blood test. Thereafter, the Commissioner of Public Safety revoked Respondent’s driver’s license for refusing to submit to a test. Relying on McDonnell v. Commissioner of Public Safety, 473 N.W.2d 848 (Minn. 1991), the district court rescinded the revocation after finding that the implied consent advisory violated Respondent’s due process rights because it incorrectly stated that refusal to submit to a urine test was a crime. The court of appeals affirmed on the basis that the threat of legally impossible criminal charges for refusal to submit to a urine test violated due process. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because Respondent did not rely on the implied consent advisory to his detriment, and instead refused to submit to testing, no due process violation occurred under McDonnell. View "Johnson v. Commissioner of Public Safety" on Justia Law