This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

C9-01-965

 

 

In re: Robyn Gayle Nagle n/k/a Robyn Gayle Brown,

petitioner,

Respondent,

County of Chisago,

Respondent,

 

vs.

 

James Joseph Nagle,

and

Kevin Shoeberg

Appellants.

 

 

Filed February 12, 2002

Affirmed as modified

Anderson, Judge

 

Chisago County District Court

File No. FX94571

 

Robyn Gayle Brown, 15057 Forest Blvd., #77, Forest Lake, MN† 55025 (pro se respondent);

 

Alfred S. Alliegro, Chisago County Attorney, Chisago County Government Center, 313 North Main Street, Room 373, Center City, MN† 55012-9663 (for respondent County of Chisago);

 

Kevin K. Shoeberg, Kevin K. Shoeberg, P.A., 1805 Woodland Drive, Suite 600, Woodbury, MN† 55125 (for appellant husband and himself)

 

††††††††††† Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Anderson, Judge.

 

U N P U B L I S H E D† O P I N I O N

 

G. BARRY ANDERSON, Judge.

This case comes before this court after several motions by the parties and orders by the district court over the last six years.† This appeal centers around two judgments entered on April 6, 2000, and April 9, 2001, respectively.† Because we find that the district court properly interpreted its own March 25, 1997 order and imposed sanctions, but erred in calculating arrearages in its April 2001 judgment, we affirm as modified.†

FACTS

††††††††††† The marriage of James Nagle (appellant/father) and Robyn Gayle Brown (respondent/mother) was dissolved by a September 1995 Chisago County judgment.† Almost immediately, however, the parties began a parade of court appearances culminating in this appeal.†

††††††††††† Most of the dispute before this court centers around two judgments, the first entered on April 6, 2000, and the second entered on April 9, 2001.

††††††††††† In its April 6, 2000 judgment, the district court found that fatherís child support arrearages totaled $4,981.70.†

††††††††††† Father moved the district court to vacate the April 6, 2000[1] judgment.† He also sought to require Chisago County to disburse $4,999 in tax refunds.† He asked the district court to order the county to satisfy any liens against him and repair his credit report.† He also sought $7,000 in attorney fees against the county and $181 per month in child support from mother.† The county asserted lack of jurisdiction as a defense.†

The district courtís most recent judgment was entered on April 9, 2001.† This order (1) entered judgment in favor of mother for $3,233.85 in child support arrearages (taking into account the errors outlined in a Chisago County letter to the court)[2]; (2) denied a motion to vacate its sanctions order against appellant Kevin Shoeberg, fatherís attorney; (3) denied fatherís motion to vacate an award of attorneys fees to mother in the amount of $300; (4) denied fatherís request that respondent Chisago County satisfy liens against him and repair his credit history; (5) denied fatherís motion that sought $7,000 in attorney fees against Chisago County; and (6) ordered mother to pay child support to father.† Further, the district court used March 1, 1996 as the date from which child support would be calculated.† Father and Kevin Shoeberg now appeal.†

D E C I S I O N

I.

††††††††††† Father contends that the district court erred in its April 9, 2001 judgment because that judgment uses March 1, 1996 as the date from which child support obligations should be calculated, rather than the October 1, 1996 date stated in the March 25, 1997 order.

††††††††††† The April 9, 2001 judgment merely interprets, rather than modifies or corrects, the district courtís earlier March 25, 1997 order.† The April 9, 2001 judgment explains that the March 25, 1997 order inadvertently used the incorrect date and reaffirms that March 1, 1996 was the date from which child support accrued and that the district court would use that date in setting child support retroactively.† ďWe defer to a district courtís interpretation of its own order.Ē† LaChapelle v. Mitten, 607 N.W.2d 151, 162 (Minn. App. 2000) (citation omitted), review denied (Minn. May 16, 2000).† Therefore, we defer to the district courtís interpretation of it own order as to the date from which child support began to accrue.

††††††††††† Father also argues error on the part of the district court in interpreting its March 25, 1997 order because, in calculating fatherís arrearages, the district court failed to take into account childcare contributions that mother was required to make.† It is clear from the record that the district court thoroughly reviewed the partiesí submissions and evidence submitted by Chisago County showing that a discrepancy existed, and that the district court prepared a detailed summary outlining all of motherís childcare obligations.† We defer to the district courtís interpretation of its own order, and refuse to disturb that order on this issue.† See id.

II.

††††††††††† Father argues that the district court erred by not including medical expenses for one of the children in its arrearages calculation.† Father presented evidence to the district court that he paid $425.67 to fix the teeth of one of his children.† Father claims that he and mother were to share this expense.† Assuming father is correct, mother owes him $212.84.† On this record, this is a de minimis amount and does not warrant a remand.† See Wibbens v. Wibbens, 379 N.W.2d 225, 227 (Minn. App. 1985) (refusing to remand for district courtís de minimis error); see also Minn. R. Civ. P. 61 (harmless error ignored).††

III.

Father challenges the district courtís arrearages calculation.† The district court thoroughly analyzed the partiesí financial information and made detailed findings.†

We conclude that two errors were made in the district courtís otherwise thorough and detailed arrearages calculation.† First, the district courtís summary shows a cost-of-living adjustment occurring in May 1997, when the cost-of-living adjustment was actually entered a year later, in May 1998.†

††††††††††† In its final calculation, the district court concluded father owed $2,416.50 for 1996, $7.76 for 1997, $1,226.06 for 1998, and had a credit of $732 for 1999; thus fatherís total arrearages were $2,918.32.† Because the district court incorrectly used May 1997 instead of May 1998 as the cost-of-living-adjustment date, fatherís total arrearages should have been $2,774.32 ($2,918.32 minus the $144 one year cost-of-living adjustment).†

††††††††††† Second, the district court found that mother had a credit of $2,190.35 for 1996, no balance or credit for 1997, owed $726.24 for 1998, and owed $1,724.82 for 1999.† Mother therefore owed total arrearages of $260.71.† But the district court found that mother had overpaid $335.14 in childcare payments.† The district court incorrectly carried $576.24 (the total payments by mother for childcare in 1996) as the overage.† Therefore, the court subtracted $260.71 (arrearage owed by mother) from $576.24 for a total credit of $315.53.† This was incorrect.† The court should have subtracted $260.71 (arrearage owed by mother) from the correct childcare-payment overage of $335.14 for a total credit of $74.43 for mother.†

††††††††††† The district court concluded father owed a total arrearage of $3,233.85 ($2,918.32 owing plus motherís credit of $315.53).† The correct amount should be $2,848.75 (fatherís total arrearage of $2,774.32 plus motherís total credit of $74.43).† Therefore, we affirm the district courtís arrearages findings as modified and conclude that father owes mother total arrearages of $2,848.75.

IV.

††††††††††† Father contends that the district court erred by not vacating its April 6, 2000 judgment when it entered its April 9, 2001 judgment.† The district court ordered arrearages against father in the amount of $4,981.70 on April 6, 2000, but it revised the arrearages amount in its April 9, 2001 judgment.

††††††††††† Although the district court did not vacate its original arrearages award, it is clear that the district court intended to replace its April 6, 2000 arrearages award with its April 9, 2001 award.† The judgments cover the same time period and address the same arrearages.† Therefore, the court implicitly vacated its April 6, 2000 judgment by entering its April 9, 2001 judgment.† ď[W]e will not reverse a correct decision simply because it is based on incorrect reasons.Ē† Katz v. Katz, 408 N.W.2d 835, 839 (Minn. 1987) (citation omitted).† Therefore, we vacate the original arrearages award in favor of the later, corrected award, as modified by this court.

V.

††††††††††† Next, father argues the district court erred by refusing to grant him relief against respondent Chisago County.† Father demands that the county: (1) pay him $7,000 in attorney fees; (2) satisfy any liens against him; and (3) repair his credit history.† We decline to do so.

††††††††††† First, the county was not a party to the action.† Because the district court lacked jurisdiction, it could not order the county to do anything.† See Pugsley v. Magerfleisch, 161 Minn. 246, 247-48, 201 N.W. 323, 323-24 (1924) (holding that the district court was without personal jurisdiction to render judgment against defendant, therefore judgment was void).†

††††††††††† Second, even if we were to consider fatherís contentions that the county should be required to act in this case, he cites no authority for the proposition.† Assignments of error in a brief based on ďmere assertionsĒ and not supported by argument or authority are waived unless prejudicial error is obvious on mere inspection.† State v. Modern Recycling, Inc.,558 N.W.2d 770, 772 (Minn. App. 1997) (quoting Schoepke v. Alexander Smith & Sons Carpet Co., 290 Minn. 518, 519-20, 187 N.W.2d 133, 135 (1971) (per curiam)).† We cannot say that the district courtís failure to order a nonparty to provide funds and other relief to father was error or that he suffered any prejudice as a result.

VI.

††††††††††† Two sanctions are at issue in this case.† Appellant Shoeberg was sanctioned $300 for filing frivolous motions and $50 for violating Minn. Gen. R. Pract. 303.03(c).†

††††††††††† First, Shoeberg claims that the $300 sanction issued by the district court was issued pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. P. 11, and that the district court was powerless to sanction him under rule 11.† We are limited to an abuse-of-discretion review of the district courtís order.† Douglas v. Schuette, 607 N.W.2d 142, 148 (Minn. App. 2000), review denied (Minn. May 16, 2000).

††††††††††† Here, the district court found that fatherís motion to require that respondent Chisago County repair his credit history and pay him $7,000 in attorney fees was not supported by law.† Because the law did not support fatherís motions and the relief requested by Shoeberg, the court was within its discretion in imposing sanctions.† The comments to Minn. R. Civ. P. 11 address the authority of the court to sanction either the party or the attorney.† Moreover, the 1985 Advisory Committee Note to rule 11 states that the court is ďencouraged to impose sanctions against the * * * attorneyĒ in these situations.† Minn. R. Civ. P. 11, 1985 advisory comm. note.†††

††††††††††† Second, Shoeberg argues that he did not violate Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 303.03(c) and thus should not have been sanctioned $50.† The rule requires that a moving party certify to the court that it has initiated settlement efforts.† Shoeberg admits that he and father brought the motions at issue.† It was Shoebergís duty to certify compliance with the rule.† He did not do so.†

††††††††††† Shoeberg argues that the only remedy for this violation is for the district court to not hold a hearing until compliance with the rule occurs.† But this argument fails to take into account the language in Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 303.03(b), which states that the court can take ďother appropriate actionĒ if there is a failure to comply.† We cannot say that Shoeberg has shown that sanctions for failing to comply with the rule are an inappropriate remedy.† Therefore, Shoeberg has not shown that the district court abused its discretion by ordering sanctions against him.

VII.

††††††††††† ďOn review, this court will not reverse a trial courtís award or denial of attorney fees absent an abuse of discretion.Ē† Becker v. Alloy Hardfacing & Engíg Co., 401 N.W.2d 655, 661 (Minn. 1987) (citation omitted).† ď[O]nly rarely will a trial courtís decision regarding attorney fees be overturned on appeal.Ē† Burns v. Burns, 466 N.W.2d 421, 424 (Minn. App. 1991) (citation omitted).†

††††††††††† Fee awards under Minn. Stat. ß 518.14 may be based on the impact a partyís behavior has had on the costs of the litigation regardless of the relative financial resources of the parties.†

 

Dabrowski v. Dabrowski, 477 N.W.2d 761, 766 (Minn. App. 1991) (citation omitted).† Here, the district court awarded $300 to mother in attorney fees and required father to pay those fees.† The court was well within its discretion to do so.† Mother requested fees on multiple occasions and fatherís argument that notice was not given is without merit.

††††††††††† Affirmed as modified.



[1] Father refers to the April 6, 2000 judgment as the March 30, 2000 order.† It is clear that the April 6 judgment was signed on March 30, but was entered on April 6, 2000.† For conformity, we refer to it as the April 6 judgment.

[2] This was a modification of the original judgment for arrearages that was entered on April 6, 2001, but the district court failed to vacate the original judgment.††