STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Welfare of:
Filed June 13, 2006
Washington County District Court
File No. 82-16144Y; J5-02-051546
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Douglas H. Johnson, Washington County Attorney, Erin A. Johnson, Assistant Washington County Attorney, 14949 62nd Street, North, P.O. Box 6, Stillwater, MN 55082-000650 (for respondent)
G. Tony Atwal, Assistant State Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Chief Judge Toussaint, Presiding Judge; Ross, Judge; and Minge, Judge.
S Y L L A B U S
The depletion of accrued employment leave can be a compensable economic loss recoverable through restitution.
O P I N I O N
Appellant M.R.H. is an adjudicated delinquent who challenges the district court’s order for restitution, arguing that the restitution impermissibly duplicates damages that M.R.H. paid in a civil settlement and is based on losses known to the victims at sentencing. M.R.H. also challenges the portion of the restitution that compensates one of the victims for the value of accrued employment leave that the victim expended to tend to a different, hospitalized victim of M.R.H.’s delinquent conduct. We affirm.
A dispute about a fireworks incident escalated into an argument between appellant M.R.H. and Benjamin Kloos on June 28, 2002. M.R.H. punched Kloos in the face. Kloos fell backwards, dashing the back of his head on the pavement. The sudden impact fractured Kloos’s skull, requiring emergency brain surgery and three weeks’ hospitalization. During this period Kloos underwent additional surgery to replace a portion of his skull and spent ten days in a medically induced coma. Benjamin Kloos’s parents spent considerable time tending to him throughout his treatment and recovery. This required them to be away from work, so Benjamin’s father, Michael Kloos, expended “flex leave” and “comp leave” that he had accrued through his employment.
The state filed a delinquency petition charging M.R.H. with first-degree assault, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.221, subd. 1 (2000). He pleaded guilty and the district court adjudicated him delinquent. The court imposed a 48-month stayed sentence of incarceration, placed M.R.H. on probation, and ordered M.R.H. to pay restitution to Benjamin Kloos and his family for expenses they incurred as a result of the assault. The district court noted that the Kloos family had submitted a restitution affidavit claiming $21,619.97 of expenses not covered by insurance, and, apparently relying on Minnesota Statute section 611A.04, subdivision 1, the district court commented that restitution is limited to out-of-pocket expenses and losses, “not includ[ing] any other types of damages that the Kloos family could pursue in a civil action.” Because the Klooses’ restitution request had not yet been investigated, the district court reserved deciding the restitution amount.
Benjamin Kloos served a civil lawsuit against M.R.H. and against M.R.H.’s parents in April 2003, alleging that M.R.H. was liable for damages from the assault and that his parents were liable as M.R.H.’s guardians under Minnesota Statutes section 540.18. On September 12, 2004, Benjamin Kloos settled his lawsuit for $50,000, and he released M.R.H. and M.R.H.’s parents from all claims arising from the assault.
Benjamin Kloos’s parents, Michael and Lori Kloos, however, were parties neither to the lawsuit nor to the settlement agreement. Michael and Lori Kloos submitted a restitution request for $21,800.21 in December 2004. They attached a list of losses almost identical to those they originally requested in 2002, including the value of Michael Kloos’s lost wages. M.R.H. contested the propriety of restitution and the amount requested. The district court ordered M.R.H. to pay Michael and Lori Kloos $10,663.49 in restitution. M.R.H. appeals that order.
Did the district court abuse its discretion by ordering M.R.H. to pay $10,663.49 in restitution?
M.R.H. maintains that the
district court abused its discretion by ordering him to pay Michael and Lori
Kloos $10,663.49 in restitution. A crime
victim has the right to restitution as part of the disposition of a juvenile-delinquency
proceeding that results in an adjudication of delinquency. Minn. Stat. § 611A.04, subd. 1(a) (2004). “A request for restitution may include, but is
not limited to, any out-of-pocket losses resulting from the crime,” including medical
costs and the replacement of wages and services.
argues first that the restitution award is duplicative because the $50,000
settlement of Benjamin Kloos’s civil action compensated Michael and Lori Kloos for
the same losses. M.R.H. misreads the
scope of the civil suit and its settlement agreement. It is true that the damages Benjamin Kloos claimed
in his civil action rest in part on the expenses that Michael and Lori Kloos later
requested as restitution. But Michael
and Lori Kloos were not parties to Benjamin Kloos’s civil action or to the
settlement agreement. A settlement agreement is a contract. Ittel
v. Pietig, 705 N.W.2d 203, 207 (Minn. App. 2005), review denied
Even if Michael and Lori Kloos had been parties to their son’s lawsuit, the settlement agreement itself is too limited to foreclose restitution. The agreement provides that Benjamin Kloos will “release, acquit and forever discharge [M.R.H. and his parents] . . . of and from any and all actions, claims, damages, costs, loss of service, expenses and compensation” resulting from the assault. As consideration for this release, M.R.H. and his parents paid Benjamin Kloos $50,000. Nothing in the settlement agreement or in the record before us establishes that M.R.H. directed any portion of the $50,000 payment to cover the expenses that Michael and Lori Kloos later claimed in their restitution request. As the agreement expressly declares, the $50,000 payment was consideration for the release of claims, not compensation for the injuries alleged in the lawsuit. Payment under the settlement specifically resolves “a doubtful and disputed claim” and that “payment is not to be construed as an admission of liability.” That M.R.H. had the opportunity to—but did not—incorporate into that agreement a link between the settlement and the parental claims for restitution further undercuts his argument that the settlement should have reduced his obligation to Benjamin Kloos’s parents.
Because Michael and Lori Kloos are not bound by or entitled to the proceeds from the settlement agreement, and because no portion of the $50,000 settlement is attributed to the expenses claimed by Michael and Lori Kloos in their restitution request, settlement of the civil action did not require the district court to limit the amount of restitution awarded to them. The record does not show that any payment compensated Michael and Lori Kloos for their losses arising from the assault. We conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by calculating restitution to them without regard to the settlement among M.R.H., M.R.H.’s parents, and Benjamin Kloos.
M.R.H. next argues that the
restitution order is statutorily barred because it is based on losses known by
the Kloos family at sentencing. A
district court may order restitution after the sentencing or dispositional
hearing if, among other requirements, the extent of the victim’s loss was
unknown at the time of the sentencing or dispositional hearing. Minn. Stat. § 611A.04, subd. 1(b)(3)
(2004). But it is the district court’s lack of knowledge that allows it to amend or
issue a restitution order after sentencing, not the victim’s. Mason v. State, 652 N.W.2d 269, 272
(Minn. App. 2002) (construing subdivision 1(b)(3) to
“mean that the court’s knowledge, rather than the victim’s or the state’s,” is
determinative), review denied
argues also that the restitution that compensates Michael Kloos for the time he
missed from work is improperly awarded because Michael Kloos did not suffer any
economic loss. We reject this
argument. We have mentioned Benjamin
Kloos’s serious injury, his hospitalization, his surgeries, and his coma. The record shows that Michael Kloos expended accrued
leave from his employment to tend to Benjamin in the hospital while he was
recovering from the assault and consequent surgeries. The operative statute provides that “restitution
may include, but is not limited to,
any out-of-pocket losses resulting from the crime, including medical and
therapy costs, replacement of wages and services.”
not persuaded otherwise by M.R.H.’s assertion that Michael Kloos’s employer
continued to pay his wages during the time Kloos missed work on his son’s
behalf. We have previously offered, at
least as dictum, that restitution for the expenditure of accrued sick leave “is
clearly related to [the victim’s] economic losses.” State
We affirm the restitution order. Because Michael and Lori Kloos were not parties to the settlement agreement among Benjamin Kloos, M.R.H., and M.R.H.’s parents, the restitution award was not duplicative. And because Michael Kloos’s use of his accrued employment leave is an economic loss caused by M.R.H.’s assault on Benjamin Kloos, the district court may order restitution to compensate for that loss.