This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Hamoudi Sabri and Omar Investments, Inc.,
d/b/a SAFA, Inc.,
Hennepin County District Court
File No. CT9819819
Lisa M. Elliot, Elliot Law Offices, P.A., 304 York Business Center, 3209 West 76th Street, Edina, MN 55435 (for respondent)
Mark A. Carter, 33 Tenth Avenue South, Suite 110, Hopkins, MN 55343 (for appellants)
Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Hanson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
The trial court ordered that cash bail posted for appellant Hamoudi Sabri, a corporate agent for Omar Investments, Inc., and SAFA, Inc., be forfeited and released to respondent, judgment creditor Diem Design, in satisfaction of a judgment against the two corporations. The bail deposit was furnished on a bench warrant issued on an accusation of contempt of court in post-judgment enforcement proceedings. Appellants Sabri and the two corporations assert to this court that the trial court could not order forfeiture of the bail deposit, authorized by statute for bail posted in these circumstances as a result of being “cited for civil contempt,” without adjudicating that defendant was in contempt of court. Because the statute contains no requirement for such an adjudication, we affirm.
Respondent sued and obtained a judgment against appellants Omar Investments, Inc., and SAFA, Inc., in the amount of $7,999. Appellant Sabri, a corporate agent for both corporations, was named as a defendant in respondent’s lawsuit. The trial court found Sabri not personally liable for the judgment.
When the judgment was not satisfied, respondent requested and received an order for disclosure against Sabri on behalf of the corporations. Sabri did not respond to the order. Two months later, respondent requested and received an order to show cause requiring that Sabri appear in court to show cause why he, on behalf of the corporations, should not be adjudged in contempt of court for failure to provide the information requested by the earlier request for disclosure. When Sabri did not appear at the scheduled contempt hearing, the trial court issued a bench warrant for his arrest. After Sabri was arrested, cash bail was set at $9,000 and was deposited.
The parties appeared at a contempt proceeding following Sabri’s release from jail. Respondent requested that the trial court release the bail money in satisfaction of its judgment against Omar Investments and SAFA. Appellants requested an evidentiary hearing on the issue of whether there was any basis for releasing the bail money to respondent. Resolving the matter without an evidentiary hearing, the court issued an order granting respondent’s request. The court ordered the bail money applied against the judgment, including interest and costs, with any surplus returned to Sabri. The merits of the contempt accusation were not adjudicated.
D E C I S I O N
Appellants argue that the forfeiture of cash bail under Minn. Stat. § 550.011 (2000) can only occur if the debtor is cited for contempt and, because Sabri was not found in contempt, the trial court’s order that the cash bail be forfeited and released to respondent was erroneous.
This is an issue of statutory interpretation, which is a question of law subject to de novo review. Lolling v. Midwest Patrol, 545 N.W.2d 372, 375 (Minn. 1996). The object of statutory interpretation is to ascertain and effectuate legislative intent. Minn. Stat. § 645.16 (2000).
Minn. Stat. § 550.011 provides that cash bail posted as a result of being “cited” for civil contempt of a court order under this section may be ordered payable to the creditor to satisfy the judgment. The trial court, by ordering that the cash bail be forfeited and released to Diem Design, implicitly interpreted “cited for civil contempt” to mean the assertion that contemptuous conduct had occurred. The unstated but necessary implication of appellants’ argument is that the phrase requires that the act of contempt be adjudicated by the trial court.
In construing a statute, words should be given their ordinary meanings unless the legislature has specifically provided otherwise. Summers v. R & D Agency, Inc., 593 N.W.2d 241, 244 (Minn. App. 1999). If a statute does not specifically define its terms, this court turns to an examination of the common and approved usage of those terms. State v. Hicks, 583 N.W.2d 757, 759 (Minn. App. 1998), review denied (Minn. Oct. 20, 1998). The common and approved usage of “cite” is “to summon [a person] before a court of law.” Black’s Law Dictionary 237 (7th ed. 1999). “Cited for civil contempt” in this sense means charged with contempt.
This interpretation is consistent with the legislative intent of Minn. Stat. ch. 550 to provide procedures for judgment creditors to be paid by judgment debtors. If a judgment debtor or its agent violates an order for disclosure and is subsequently charged with contempt, arrested on a bench warrant, and then posts cash bail, that bail constitutes an asset that can be used to satisfy some or all of the judgment. Minn. Stat. § 550.011 provides a procedure that betters the alternative remedy of attempted execution proceedings following the release of the bail deposit.
Appellant Sabri, on behalf of the two corporations, was charged with contempt of court when the court issued an order to show cause. Because we interpret “cited for civil contempt” to refer to the occurrence of a contempt charge, the trial court did not err on this ground.
Appellants argue, in addition, that Sabri was entitled to an evidentiary hearing. A person accused of civil contempt is entitled to due process, including notice and an opportunity to be heard. Mower County Human Servs. ex rel. Swancutt v. Swancutt, 551 N.W.2d 219, 223 (Minn. 1996). But the bail-forfeiture provision of Minn. Stat. § 550.011 does not rest on an adjudication of contempt. An evidentiary hearing was not needed to determine the statutory circumstances of a bail deposit that entitle the trial court to forfeit the deposit in favor of the judgment creditor.
Finally, appellants argue that the trial court erred in forfeiting the bail of a person who was not “the judgment debtor,” the person individually liable on the judgment. But as a corporate agent, there is no question that Sabri was a person who could be required to answer for Omar Investments and SAFA. Child v. Washed Sand & Gravel Co., 181 Minn. 559, 562, 233 N.W. 586, 587 (1930) (finding corporate agent may be punished for contempt for failure to appropriately respond to judicial order to corporation). As such, Sabri’s bail deposit was subject to the powers of the court provided by Minn. Stat. § 550.011. There is no requirement that the court first make a determination that the bail deposit was a corporate asset.
In its letter argument, respondent requests an award of attorney fees. Because a party seeking fees on appeal must submit a separate motion, Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 139.06; Illinois Farmers Ins. Co. v. Neumann, 596 N.W.2d 685, 689 (Minn. App. 1999) (denying motion for attorney fees because motion did not comply with rule 139.06), review denied (Minn. Sept. 14, 1999), we decline to grant respondent’s request for attorney fees on this appeal.