This opinion will be unpublished and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
Jill M. Houston,
Fineshelter Development Group, Inc., et al.,
Olmsted County District Court
File No. C0003913
Kenneth Griswold, 39094 West Arrowhead Drive, Pine River, MN 56474 (for appellant)
William J. Ryan, Dunlap & Seeger, P.A., 206 South Broadway, Suite 505, P.O. Box 549, Rochester, MN 55903-0549 (for respondents)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Hanson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant Jill Houston commenced an action alleging that real property owned by H&M Properties (H&M), a partnership of which she was a partner, was improperly condemned by the City of Rochester as a result of fraud by respondents. Appellant challenges the district court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of respondents, arguing that genuine issues of material fact precluded the district court from granting summary judgment on her fraud and tortious interference claims. We affirm.
Appellant contends there are genuine issues of material fact regarding whether respondents defrauded her by (1) purchasing real property previously owned by H&M from The Crystal; (2) failing to communicate their purchase of the property to her; (3) failing to notify the city that H&M should be a party to the condemnation proceeding; and (4) representing that it had marketable title to the property.
When deciding appeals from summary judgment, this court must consider whether there are any genuine issues of material fact and whether the lower court erred in its application of the law. State by Cooper v. French, 460 N.W.2d 2, 4 (Minn. 1990). The party that opposes summary judgment
may not rest upon mere averments or denials of the adverse party’s pleading but must present specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.
Minn. R. Civ. P. 56.05 (2000). A genuine issue for trial “must be established by substantial evidence.” DLH, Inc. v. Russ, 566 N.W.2d 60, 69-70 (quoting Murphy v. Country House Inc., 307 Minn. 344, 351, 240 N.W.2d 507, 512 (1976)).
[T]here is no genuine issue of material fact for trial when the nonmoving party presents evidence which merely creates a metaphysical doubt as to a factual issue and which is not sufficiently probative with respect to an essential element of the nonmoving party’s case to permit reasonable persons to draw different conclusions.
Id. at 71.
The elements of fraud are: a false representation dealing with a past or present material fact, which is susceptible of knowledge; the representer must know it is false or assert its truth without knowing its truth; the representer must intend to have the other person act and that person must in fact be induced to act; this action must be in reliance on the representation; and the actor must suffer damage attributable to the misrepresentation. Davis v. Re-Trac Mfg. Corp., 149 N.W.2d 37, 38-39 (Minn. 1967).
The district court properly determined that appellant failed to establish the elements of fraud with respect to the sale of the property. A claim for misrepresentation requires evidence to survive summary judgment. See Williams v. Tweed, 520 N.W.2d 515 (Minn. App. 1994), review denied (Minn. Oct. 27, 1994). Appellant failed to provide evidence of a false representation on the part of respondents toward appellant. Nor was there evidence satisfying the other elements. Importantly, appellant provided no evidence that respondents were involved in the sale of the property from H&M Properties to The Crystal, which preceded respondents’ acquisition of the property.
Appellant asserts the elements of fraud are met because respondents failed to inform the city that it should notify the partnership of the condemnation proceedings. But, appellant was not induced to act or rely on the representation made to the city. Moreover, appellant offers no evidence that respondents knew or should have known that H&M had a property interest.
Finally we note that the real property at issue was registered Torrens property. The Torrens Act provides that
every person receiving a certificate of title pursuant to a decree of registration and every subsequent purchaser of registered land who receives a certificate of title in good faith and for a valuable consideration shall hold it free from all encumbrances and adverse claims, excepting only the estates, mortgages, liens, charges, and interests as may be noted in the last certificate of title in the office of the registrar * * * .
Minn. Stat. § 508.25 (1996). The purpose of the Torrens system of land registration is to ensure that a person dealing with registered property “need look no further than the certificate of title for any transactions that might affect the land.” Mill City Heating & Air Cond. v. Nelson, 351 N.W.2d 362, 364-65 (Minn. 1984). The Torrens Act sets up a registered land ownership system where a “purchaser may accept [a certificate of title to registered land] as truly stating the title, and may disregard any claim not so appearing.” Kane v. State, 237 Minn. 261, 268-69, 55 N.W.2d 333, 338 (Minn. 1952) (quotation omitted).
Because neither H&M nor appellant were shown as having a registered interest in the property, appellant had no compensable interest in the property at the time of the condemnation and thus was not an appropriate party in that action.
Appellant argues that the district court erred by granting summary judgment to respondents on appellant’s claim of tortious interference. We disagree. To establish a claim for tortious interference of contract, a plaintiff must show: (1) the existence of a contract; (2) knowledge of the contract; (3) intentional procurement of the contract’s breach; (4) absence of justification; and (5) damages caused by the breach. Furlev Sales & Assoc., Inc. v. N. Am. Auto. Warehouse, Inc., 325 N.W.2d 20, 25 (Minn. 1982). A successful claim requires proof of all five elements. St. Jude Med., Inc. v. Medtronic, Inc., 536 N.W.2d 24, 30 n.6 (Minn. App. 1995), review denied (Minn. Oct. 27, 1995).
Appellant asserts that a provision in the contract between respondent Fineshelter and The Crystal referencing appellant constituted improper interference. But appellant is not a party to that contract and there is no evidence of a contract between appellant and Fineshelter. Thus, appellant failed to establish the first element of a tortious interference claim.
Appellant also asserted that Fineshelter knew appellant must agree to any sale of H&M property, and that Fineshelter knew appellant did not agree to the sale between H&M and The Crystal. But, appellant failed to show that Fineshelter knew that appellant did not agree to the sale. To the contrary, there was evidence implying that appellant knew of the sale and approved it. The record indicates that: (1) The Crystal leased the property for about two years sending part of the lease payments directly to appellant; (2) the payments were labeled “lease payment” and were endorsed and cashed by appellant; (3) following garnishment of these payments to satisfy a judgment in another matter, appellant brought a motion to stop the garnishment; (4) The Crystal made lease and mortgage payments to H&M; and (5) The Crystal renovated the property starting in 1995. Knowledge can be actual or constructive, and a party’s intention can be inferred from conduct. Carlson v. Doran, 252 Minn. 449, 456, 90 N.W.2d 323, 328 (1958). Because the evidence indicates that appellant accepted the benefits of the lease contract for almost two years, her knowledge and acceptance of the contract can be inferred.