This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Republic Leasing Corporation,
Harold E. Farnes, et al.,
Harold E. Farnes,
Third Party Plaintiff,
Fred H. Bame,
Third Party Defendant,
Third Party Defendant,
Filed April 25, 2000
Reversed and remanded
Hennepin County District Court
File No. MC 98-7084
Richard A. Saliterman, Floyd E. Siefferman, Jr., Boris Parker, Saliterman & Siefferman, P.C., Suite 1000, Northstar Center East, 608 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55402-1917 (for respondent)
Timothy C. Matson, Abdo and Abdo, P.A., 710 Northstar West, 625 Marquette Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Klaphake, Judge.
Joanna Bame appeals from the district court order enforcing a settlement agreement and requiring her to execute two residential mortgages on her homestead to provide security for a note and an equipment lease with respondent Republic Leasing Corporation (Republic). Bame contends that the district court erred because (1) she never waived the homestead exemption, (2) the settlement agreement did not require security for the equipment lease, and (3) the district court failed to credit her for amounts paid under the equipment lease. Because there is no evidence that Bame waived the homestead exemption, we reverse. We remand to allow the district court to consider again the motion to enforce the settlement agreement or declare it unenforceable.
This court need not defer to district court determinations on questions of law. Frost-Benco Elec. Ass’n v. Minnesota Pub. Utils. Comm’n, 358 N.W.2d 639, 642 (Minn. 1984).
The parties engaged in litigation after Bame and her husband defaulted on their personal guarantee of an equipment lease with Republic. As part of the settlement agreement, the Bames agreed to pay $70,000 to Republic pursuant to a note, “provided the Bames provide adequate security for their obligations under the note.” The settlement did not specifically define “adequate security.”
The determinative issue here is whether the district court properly enforced the settlement by requiring Bame to execute mortgages on her homestead. Bame argues that the district court cannot force her to waive her homestead exemption.
Generally, a debtor’s house and surrounding land are exempt from seizure or sale for debt as to the amount and value authorized by law. Minn. Stat. § 510.01 (1998). “The homestead exemption is a constitutional right in Minnesota.” In re Guardianship of Huesman, 381 N.W.2d 73, 75 (Minn. App. 1986) (citing Minn. Const. art. I, § 12). There are strong social policies supporting the securing of a debtor’s home “against the uncertainties and misfortunes of life.” Title Ins. Co. v. Agora Leases, Inc., 320 N.W.2d 884, 885 (Minn. 1982) (citation omitted). Even this constitutional right may be waived, but only “by an act which evidences an unequivocal intention to do so.” Huesman, 381 N.W.2d at 76 (citation omitted). Such unequivocal intention may be found, for example, when the parties enter into a general indemnity agreement that includes a specific waiver of the homestead exemption. Argonaut Ins. Co. v. Cooper, 261 N.W.2d 743, 745 (Minn. 1978). Where there is no express waiver or other showing of an intent to waive the homestead exemptions, the district court’s finding of a waiver will be reversed. Huesman, 381 N.W.2d at 77.
Here, there are no facts to support a determination that Bame waived the homestead exemption; to the contrary, she asserted it. Without a showing of a specific and clear intention to consent to the waiver, the district court does not have authority to order a party to waive the homestead exemption. Consequently, we reverse and remand to allow the district court to reconsider the motion to enforce the settlement agreement or to declare it unenforceable. In light of this decision, it is unnecessary to address the other issues raised.
Reversed and remanded.