This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat.§. 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).






In Re the Marriage of: Paula Sue Millunzi,

n/k/a Paula Sue Reese, petitioner,





Jeffrey Andrew Millunzi,



Filed August 14, 2001

Affirmed; motion denied

Toussaint, Chief Judge


Anoka County District Court

File No. F98415570


Ellen Dresselhuis, Dresselhuis Law Office, P.A., 2738 Winnetka Avenue North, New Hope, MN  55427-2850 (for respondent)


Jeffrey Andrew Millunzi, 1819 West Old Shakopee Road, Suite 120, Bloomington, MN  55419 (pro se appellant)


Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Crippen, Judge and Anderson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N


TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge


            Appellant Jeffrey Andrew Millunzi argues that the district court erroneously applied equitable principles to modify the 1985 judgment dissolving his marriage to respondent Paula Sue Reese.  Respondent moves for an order striking the reply brief.  Because the district court properly applied equity in implementing the judgment, we affirm.  Respondent’s motion is denied.


            The parties ended their marriage pursuant to a marital settlement agreement that was incorporated into a judgment entered on April 5, 1985.  The judgment gave physical custody of the children to respondent and obligated appellant to pay child support.  Respondent received the homestead, subject to a lien in favor of appellant. 

            The judgment contemplated that the parties would resolve the lien issue without court intervention.  Appellant’s lien was to be satisfied upon the occurrence of one of several events, including respondent’s remarriage or when no minor child resided in the homestead.  Certain items were to be deducted from the sale price or fair market value of the home before appellant’s one-half share of the proceeds was calculated.  The parties agree that child support arrearages of $25,254 were to be deducted from appellant’s share.

              Fifteen years after entry of the judgment, appellant moved for an order directing the sale of the homestead satisfying his lien.  Respondent moved for an order directing that appellant sign a quit claim deed and a lien release in respondent’s favor and, upon execution of those documents, granting appellant satisfaction of all judgments for child support arrearages. 

            The district court ordered the release of the lien for satisfaction of the child support judgments.  The district court subsequently denied appellant’s request for an evidentiary hearing.   This appeal followed.



            “Granting equitable relief is within the sound discretion of the trial court.  Only a clear abuse of that discretion will result in reversal.”  Nadeau v. County of Ramsey, 277 N.W. 2d 520, 524 (Minn. 1979) (citation omitted).

            It is well established that district courts are “guided by equitable principles in determining the rights and liabilities” of parties to a marital dissolution proceeding.  DeLa Rosa v. DeLa Rosa, 309 N.W.2d 755, 758 (Minn. 1981) (citation omitted).  The district court also has “inherent equitable power to enforce and interpret the dissolution judgment.”  Haala v. Haala, 387 N.W.2d 678, 679 (Minn. App. 1986) (citation omitted). 

            Here, the district court clearly based its decision on equity.  The district court found:

in light of the delay in seeking enforcement of his lien and the substantial improvements made by [respondent] to the property, it would be inequitable for [appellant] to share in the present enhanced value of this home.


 The district court further found that respondent was ready and willing to resolve this matter nine years ago, but that appellant refused to cooperate.  In this regard, respondent produced a 1991 market analysis of the home and a federal tax lien notice on the property against appellant.  The district court concluded that appellant’s delay justified crediting respondent for the home improvements that had been made since 1991.  Appellant brought this motion nine years after respondent made substantial improvements and argued that he should benefit from the appreciated value of the home.  Appellant failed to contribute to the maintenance of the home and failed to pay child support when the respondent had custody of the children.  We conclude that the record fully supports the district court’s decision. 

            Appellant contends that the effect of the court’s order was to modify the judgment.  He argues that the district court effectively added a clause crediting respondent for home improvements.  The passage of time and the actions of the parties, however, changed the circumstances contemplated when the judgment was entered.  See Graff v. Graff, 472 N.W.2d 882, 884 (Minn. App. 1991) (affirming trial court’s interpretation of divorce decree after unforeseen factors arose), review denied (Minn. Sept. 13, 1991).  Here, equity demanded that respondent receive credit for her home improvements.  The district court did not abuse its discretion by fashioning an equitable solution and interpreting the judgment to allow respondent to receive credit for her home improvements.


            Appellant argues that he should have been allowed an evidentiary hearing.    Appellant brought his motion for an order directing the sale of the home supported only with bare assertions set out in his affidavit.  He made no effort to obtain a professional appraisal of the home or to resolve the matter extrajudicially as contemplated by the judgment.  Under Minn. Gen. R. Prac. 303.03(d), motions shall be submitted on affidavits, exhibits, memoranda, and arguments of counsel “unless otherwise ordered by the court for good cause shown.”  Appellant has not shown the district court or this court good cause to deviate from the general rule and require an evidentiary hearing.


            “The purpose of a reply brief is to respond to new arguments contained in respondent’s brief.”  Frank v. Winter, 528 N.W.2d 910, 913 (Minn. App. 1995), review denied (Minn. Apr. 27, 1995); Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 128.02, subd. 3.  Respondent correctly states that appellant’s reply brief simply reiterates the same arguments and rebuttals in a more argumentative tone.  Nevertheless, absent prejudice to respondent, we will allow this as a “reasonable accommodation” to a pro se litigant.  Kasson State Bank v. Haugen, 410 N.W.2d 392, 395 (Minn. App. 1987).  Therefore, respondent’s motion is denied.  

            Affirmed; motion denied.