This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Gary W. Polzin,
d/b/a Polzin Glass,
Thomas W. Polzin,
d/b/a Polzin Auto Glass,
Filed June 19, 2001
Rice County District Court
File No. C3961060
Paul T. Dietz, Nikolai, Mersereau & Dietz, P.A., International Centre, 900 Second Avenue South, Suite 820, Minneapolis, MN 55402-3813 (for appellant)
Jeffrey M. Johnson, Schurhammer & Johnson, P.A., 25 N.W. Second Street, Faribault, MN 55021 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Stoneburner, Judge.
In this post-judgment action in a deceptive trade practices suit, appellant Gary Polzin challenges the denial of his motion to reopen the judgment for an award of damages and for contempt based on respondent Thomas Polzin’s alleged violations of the previously granted injunction. Because there is no basis for an award of damages and the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to find respondent in contempt, we affirm.
Despite the assortment of issues raised by appellant, this appeal is nothing more than a claim for damages under the same or related facts that formed the basis for appellant’s original suit. Where the same nucleus of operative facts from a prior case forms the basis for a subsequent suit, the doctrine of claim preclusion, or res judicata, applies. United States v. Gurley, 43 F.3d 1188, 1195 (8th Cir. 1994); G.A.W., III v. D.M.W., 596 N.W.2d. 284, 287 (Minn. App. 1999) (res judicata applies where there has been final adjudication on merits and subsequent suit involves same cause of action and identical parties), review denied (Minn. Sept. 28, 1999). The doctrine also covers issues that have been or could have been litigated. G.A.W., III, 596 N.W.2d at 287.
Although appellant has described incidents occurring since the original suit was tried before the district court in 1997, he relies on the same nucleus of facts. Appellant sought damages in the original action and the district court ruled then that he had no basis for damages. On appeal to this court, appellant alleged that the injunctive relief granted by the district court was inadequate and the attorney fees insufficient, but he failed to raise the issue of damages. This court affirmed the district court, and the supreme court denied review. Polzin v. Polzin, No. C9-97-2211 (Minn. App. Aug. 11, 1998), review denied (Minn. Oct. 20, 1998). Appellant then attempted to resurrect his damages claim in a suit in federal court, which the district court and the Eighth Circuit concluded was barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion. Polzin v. Polzin, No. 99-233 (D. Minn. Apr. 29, 1999), aff’d, 221 F.3d 1343 (8th Cir. 2000).
Thus, appellant has received a final judgment on the issue of damages. The doctrine of res judicata is based on the policy that litigation should be brought to a “definite conclusion with reasonable dispatch.” Mattson v. Underwriters at Lloyds of London, 414 N.W.2d 717, 720 (Minn. 1987). Appellant’s continuing attempts to raise a claim that has been finally decided is precisely the situation to which res judicata applies.
Appellant also challenges the district court’s refusal to hold respondent in contempt and to award appellant damages for contempt. A district court’s decision concerning the exercise of contempt powers is reversed only for an abuse of discretion. Mower County Human Servs. v. Swancutt, 551 N.W.2d 219, 222 (Minn. 1996). Contempt is one weapon in the court’s arsenal to uphold its authority. See Hon. D.D. Wozniak & Cynthia Lehr, Dealing with a Double-Edged Sword: A Practical Guide to Contempt Law in Minnesota, 18 William Mitchell L. Rev. 7 (1992). Where, as here, the court addresses the challenged behavior by modifying the injunction in a manner calculated to clarify any confusion about its scope and declines to use its contempt power, there is no abuse of discretion.
Because appellant has provided no factual or legal basis for this court to reopen an issue that has been litigated and rejected by both the state and federal courts, we affirm the district court’s decision.