This opinion will be unpublished and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
Friendly Chevrolet, Inc.,
Anoka County District Court
File No. C5001225
John G. Westrick, Tammy L. Merkins, Westrick & McDowall-Nix, P.L.L.P., 400 Minnesota Building, 46 East Fourth Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for appellant)
Karen Melling van Vliet, Johnson & van Vliet, 332 Minnesota Street, First National Bank Building, Suite West 975, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Peterson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant Deanna Dorosh contends the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of respondent Friendly Chevrolet, Inc. We affirm.
D E C I S I O N
On an appeal from summary judgment, we ask two questions: (1) whether there are any genuine issues of material fact and (2) whether the lower courts erred in their application of the law.
State by Cooper v. French, 460 N.2d 2, 4 (Minn. 1990) (citation omitted).
Appellant contends that the district court erred as a matter of law in determining that collateral estoppel bars her current lawsuit against respondent. We disagree. “On a given set of facts the appellate court applies de novo review to questions of collateral estoppel * * * .” G.A.W., III v. D.M.W., 596 N.W.2d 284, 287 (Minn. App. 1999) (citations omitted), review denied (Minn. Sept. 28, 1999). If this court “determine[s] that collateral estoppel is available, the decision to apply the doctrine is left to the [district] court’s discretion.” Regents of the Univ. of Minn. v. Medical, Inc., 382 N.W.2d 201, 207 (Minn. App. 1986) (citation omitted), review denied (Minn. Apr. 18, 1986).
For collateral estoppel to apply, the following elements must be present:
(1) the issue was identical to one in a prior adjudication; (2) there was a final judgment on the merits; (3) the estopped party was a party or in privity with a party to the prior adjudication; and (4) the estopped party was given a full and fair opportunity to be heard on the adjudicated issue.
A&H Vending Co. v. Commissioner of Revenue, 608 N.W.2d 544, 547 (Minn. 2000) (quotation omitted). “Collateral estoppel * * * operates only as to matters actually litigated, determined by, and essential to a previous judgment.” In re Application of Hofstad to Register Title to Certain Land, 376 N.W.2d 698, 700 (Minn. App. 1985) (citation omitted).
Here, respondent claimed in conciliation court that appellant rented a car from its dealership and was responsible for rental fees pursuant to a rental agreement entered into evidence. Respondent further alleged that because appellant failed to return the car after numerous requests, respondent reported the car as stolen to the police. A default conciliation court judgment was entered against appellant for rental fees after she delayed the date of three hearings and failed to show up for a subsequent hearing.
In appellant’s current lawsuit, her complaint raises the identical issue that was resolved against her in the conciliation court judgment by again claiming the car in her possession was a rental. Appellant’s complaint repeatedly refers to the car as a loaner, claims the conciliation court judgment is “bogus,” and alleges that respondent sued appellant
after admitting that it had ‘loaned’ the vehicle to [appellant] and knowing that it had no contract to support the allegations contained in the conciliation court document.
Because appellant’s allegations rely on the underlying assumption that the car was a loaner and not a rental, we conclude the district court did not err in determining that appellant’s current lawsuit was barred by collateral estoppel or abuse its discretion in granting respondent’s motion for summary judgment.