Articles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court

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Chance Innis, Cammie Wold, and Roadrunner Hotshot & Services, LLC ("RHS"), appealed a judgment awarding Louis Tornabeni $145,536.53 from Innis, and awarding Tornabeni $477,521.49, jointly and severally, from Wold and RHS. Innis and Wold were brother and sister. Innis operated a sole proprietorship doing business as Roadrunner Hotshot, which initially delivered goods to, and cleaned shacks at, oil rigs in western North Dakota and later began renting equipment to oil companies including Continental Resources. Wold operated Roadrunner Hotshot for Innis until April 11, 2011, when he transferred the business to her and she renamed and reorganized the company as Roadrunner Hotshot & Services, LLC. DTC Consulting employed Tornabeni as a drilling consultant in western North Dakota and assigned him to work on oil rigs operated by Continental Resources as part of his employment with DTC Consulting. Tornabeni and Wold began a romantic relationship in late 2009 or early 2010. According to Tornabeni, he met with Innis, Wold, and Nick Barker at a Williston, North Dakota, restaurant in the spring of 2010. Tornabeni testified he and Innis orally agreed that Tornabeni would provide equipment to Innis, and Innis, through his business, would then rent the equipment to Continental Resources under a Master Service Agreement. According to Tornabeni, the parties agreed he would receive ninety percent of the rental profits, and Innis would receive ten percent of the rental profits. Tornabeni provided equipment to Innis from July 2010 until Innis transferred his business to Wold in April 2011. Tornabeni continued to provide the equipment rented by Continental Resources after Innis transferred his business to Wold. According to Tornabeni, he arranged the equipment rentals to Continental Resources and for the payments by Continental Resources to RHS. Tornabeni's involvement with equipment rentals to Continental Resources ended on January 1, 2013, and his romantic relationship with Wold ended in June 2013. Tornabeni sued Innis, Wold, and RHS, alleging Innis breached their oral contract requiring Innis to pay Tornabeni ninety percent of rental income generated from equipment owned by Tornabeni and rented to Continental Resources from July 2010 through April 11, 2011. Tornabeni also alleged that after Innis transferred his business to Wold, Wold and RHS were unjustly enriched by the rental of equipment to Continental from April 2011 through December 2012. The district court determined that Innis and Tornabeni had an oral contract requiring Innis to pay Tornabeni ninety percent of the rental profit from equipment rentals and that Innis breached the oral contract. Finding no reversible error in the district court's judgment, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed judgment against Innis, Wold and RHS. View "Tornabeni v. Wold" on Justia Law

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Shannon Bakke appeals a judgment in favor of Magi-Touch Carpet One Floor & Home, Inc. and denial of her motion to amend her complaint. Bakke entered into a contract with Magi-Touch for the installation of floor tiles, a shower base, and related products in a bathroom within Bakke's home. Magi-Touch arranged to have the shower base and tile installed by VA Solutions, LLC, an independent contractor. Bakke contended the shower door was improperly installed; the improper installation resulted in the shower door imploding, and the implosion caused damage to property in and around the shower requiring the bathroom door and trim to be repainted. Bakke argued the district court erred in concluding she could not pursue a claim against Magi-Touch because Magi-Touch was not liable for the acts of its independent contractor. Bakke also asserts the district court erred in denying, as futile, her motion to amend her complaint to assert a contract claim against Magi-Touch. Assuming Bakke properly asserted a claim for breach of the parties' contract, the North Dakota Supreme Court held the delegation of Magi-Touch's obligation to provide labor to VA Solutions did not preclude a cause of action against Magi-Touch for a breach of the contract. Further, the Court held the existence of the independent contractor did not relieve Magi-Touch of its obligation to perform under the terms of its contract with Bakke. In the context of a claim for a breach of the parties' contract, the amendment was not futile and should have been allowed. The Court affirmed as to all other issues, and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Bakke v. Magi-Touch Carpet One Floor & Home, Inc." on Justia Law

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Hurley Oil Properties, Inc. and Bill Seerup appealed a judgment awarding money damages instead of specific performance for Orville Hiepler's breach of contract, the Mineral Deed, conveying real property. Seerup and Hurley argued the mineral deed signed by Hiepler was enforceable and required Hiepler to convey the real property currently held by the revocable trust of which he is a settlor, trustee, and beneficiary. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the mineral deed signed by Hiepler, settlor of the revocable trust, required conveyance of the property and accordingly, the district court erred in refusing to grant specific performance. View "Dale Exploration, LLC v. Hiepler" on Justia Law

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The Johnston Law Office appeals from a judgment dismissing its claims against Jon Brakke and Vogel Law Firm (collectively "Vogel"). Johnston argued the district court erred in granting summary judgment and dismissing its claims. Vogel represented PHI Financial Services, Inc. in an action against Johnston to recover damages for a fraudulent transfer. The district court entered judgment against Johnston in that action. In April 2016 Johnston sued Vogel for tortious interference with a business relationship, tortious interference with attorney-client business relationships, and abuse of process. Johnston alleged Vogel violated state law while attempting to execute on the judgment entered against Johnston. Johnston claimed Vogel improperly attempted to garnish funds from Johnston's lawyer trust account, operating account and fees owed by Johnston's clients, and Vogel's unlawful actions interfered with Johnston's business relationships with its lending bank and clients. In July 2017 Vogel moved for summary judgment, arguing Johnston was unable to prove the required elements of its claims and Vogel was entitled to dismissal of the claims. Vogel also moved to quash a subpoena duces tecum Johnston served on PHI Financial seeking billing information between Vogel and PHI Financial. The district court granted Vogel's motion as to all claims. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed dismissal. View "Johnston Law Office, P.C. v. Brakke" on Justia Law

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Robert Post Johnson and A.V.M., Inc. ("Johnson and A.V.M.") appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Statoil Oil & Gas LP and others ("Statoil"). Johnson and A.V.M. argued the district court incorrectly determined the primary three-year terms of two oil and gas leases were extended by continuous drilling operations clauses within the lease agreements. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the Pugh clauses in the pertinent leases at issue here were irreconcilable with the habendum and continuous drilling operations clauses, and the Pugh clauses controlled: the Pugh clauses terminated the leases with regard to the disputed units at the end of the primary three-year period because of the lack of oil or gas production in paying quantities within those units. The Court therefore found the district court's determination that the leases could be extended by drilling was not correct. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court. View "Johnson v. Statoil Oil & Gas LP" on Justia Law

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Borsheim Builders Supply, Inc., doing business as Borsheim Crane Service, ("Borsheim") appealed a declaratory judgment granting summary judgment to Mid-Continent Casualty Company and dismissing Borsheim's claims for coverage. After review of the facts presented, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in concluding Construction Services, Inc. ("CSI"), and Whiting Oil and Gas Corporation were not insureds entitled to defense and indemnity under the "additional insured" endorsement in the commercial general liability ("CGL") policy Mid-Continent issued to Borsheim. Furthermore, the Court concluded the court erred in holding Mid-Continent had no duty to defend or indemnify Borsheim, CSI, and Whiting under the CGL policy for the underlying bodily injury lawsuit. View "Borsheim Builders Supply, Inc. v. Manger Insurance, Inc." on Justia Law

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Jacob Greer, doing business as Greer Farm, appealed from a judgment dismissing his claims against Global Industries, Inc. and Nebraska Engineering Co. ("NECO"), an unincorporated division of Global Industries (collectively "Global"). Greer argued the district court erred in granting summary judgment dismissal of his claims against Global because there were genuine issues of material fact about whether Advanced Ag Construction Incorporation, also a party to this action, was Global's agent when Advanced Ag sold a grain dryer to Greer. The North Dakota Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, concluding certification under N.D.R.Civ.P. 54(b) was improvidently granted. View "Greer v. Global Industries" on Justia Law

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Francis Franson appealed after the district court granted Hess Corporation’s (“Hess”) motion for summary judgment and Agri Industries, Inc.’s (“Agri”) motion for prejudgment interest. Hess cross-appealed parts of the district court’s judgment rejecting Hess’ alternative arguments for dismissal. In 2008, Hess hired Geokinetics USA, Inc. to complete seismographic testing on Franson’s property. Shortly after, Franson noticed a loss of pressure from his water well between December 2008 and January 2009. Franson hired Agri to drill a new well in January 2009. In March 2013, Agri sued Franson for not paying for its well-drilling services. The district court determined Hess was not entitled to dismissal under the statute of limitations and Franson’s third-party complaint was adequate under N.D.R.Civ.P. 8 and 14. However, the district court granted Hess’ motion for summary judgment, concluding Hess could not be held liable for the negligence of its independent contractor and Franson did not comply with N.D.C.C. 38-11.1-06, which required a certified water test to recover against a mineral developer for damage to a water supply. The district court held a jury trial on the remaining issues between Agri and Franson, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of Agri in the amount of $77,924.85, the exact amount invoiced to Franson for the services. The jury verdict did not mention interest. Agri moved for an award of prejudgment interest. The district court determined Agri was entitled to prejudgment interest because the damages were certain or capable of being made certain by calculation. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the portion of the district court’s judgment granting summary judgment to Hess. The Court reversed the portion of the district court’s judgment granting Agri’s motion for prejudgment interest. "A district court errs by granting a motion for prejudgment interest when the unobjected-to jury instruction on awarding interest became the law of the case." View "Agri Industries v. Franson" on Justia Law

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Defendants A&M Structuring, LLC, and Edward Couture, individually and as manager of A&M Structuring appealed a judgment entered in favor of Lynn Flaten and from a post-judgment order denying their motions to amend the judgments and "regarding ownership or interest in levied property." Flaten sued for claims of breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and fraud. Flaten alleged he agreed to sell certain real property located in Williams County to defendants for $275,000 in February 2012, defendants paid $50,000 as a down payment, but failed to pay the remaining amounts due for the property. Flaten also alleged the defendants agreed to sell him certain real property located in McKenzie County, consisting of three individual lots. Flaten alleged defendants never delivered the property. After review of the trial court record, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in granting partial summary judgment or abuse its discretion in denying the post-judgment motions. View "Flaten v. Couture" on Justia Law

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Defendants A&M Structuring, LLC, and Edward Couture, individually and as manager of A&M Structuring appealed a judgment entered in favor of Lynn Flaten and from a post-judgment order denying their motions to amend the judgments and "regarding ownership or interest in levied property." Flaten sued for claims of breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and fraud. Flaten alleged he agreed to sell certain real property located in Williams County to defendants for $275,000 in February 2012, defendants paid $50,000 as a down payment, but failed to pay the remaining amounts due for the property. Flaten also alleged the defendants agreed to sell him certain real property located in McKenzie County, consisting of three individual lots. Flaten alleged defendants never delivered the property. After review of the trial court record, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in granting partial summary judgment or abuse its discretion in denying the post-judgment motions. View "Flaten v. Couture" on Justia Law