This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






Alice M. Lambrecht, et al.,


Patricia Bjur-Johnson, et al.,


Filed August 28, 2002

Reversed and remanded

Peterson, Judge

Chisago County District Court

File No. CX99718


Robert C. Bell, James C. Erickson, Jensen, Bell, Converse & Erickson, P.A., 1500 Minnesota World Trade Center, 30 East Seventh Street, St. Paul, MN  55101 (for respondents)


Suzanne W. Kvas, Owen L. Sorenson, Stringer & Rohleder, Ltd., 55 East Fifth Street, Suite 1200, St. Paul, MN  55101 (for appellants)


            Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Minge, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


Appellants Patricia Bjur-Johnson and Leonard Beaulieu successfully defended themselves against negligence claims in an action that arose out of an automobile accident.  In this appeal from a judgment for costs and disbursements, appellants argue that the district court erred in awarding them only $300 of $17,064.03 claimed for costs and disbursements.  We reverse and remand.


            An automobile crash occurred on a foggy morning at the intersection of two highways in Chisago County.  One of the highways is a through highway, and movement from the other highway onto the through highway is controlled by a stop sign at the intersection.  Appellants were traveling on the through highway.  Respondent Alice M. Lambrecht was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Lorraine Johnson on the other highway.  Respondent Robert E. Lambrecht is Alice Lambrecht’s husband. 

            Respondents alleged that appellants’ vehicle was being operated without its headlights on.  To prove this allegation, respondents hired an accident reconstructionist to analyze the headlights.  The accident reconstructionist opined that the headlights of appellants’ vehicle were not on at the time of the accident.  To respond to this expert opinion, appellants hired Roger Burgmeier, an expert who performed an accident reconstruction and analyzed the headlights of appellants’ vehicle.  Burgmeier opined that appellants’ headlights were on at the time of the accident.

            Alice Lambrecht also alleged that she suffered serious and permanent injuries as a result of the accident, and Robert Lambrecht alleged loss of consortium.  Appellants arranged for Dr. Paul Yellin to perform an independent medical examination of Alice Lambrecht.  Appellants took Yellin’s deposition before taking the deposition of respondents’ medical expert, Dr. Jeffrey D. Ley.  After hearing Ley’s testimony, appellants chose not to introduce Yellin’s deposition testimony at trial.

            The jury found that appellants were not negligent.  Respondents did not file any posttrial motions.  Appellants filed a bill of costs and disbursements and notice of taxation requesting the taxation of costs in the amount of $17,064.03.  Of this amount, $12,115.38 was for Burgmeier’s services. Respondents objected to the request, and the trial court scheduled a hearing on the request.  Following the hearing, the trial court awarded appellants $300 for Burgmeier’s services, denied all other costs and disbursements, and judgment was entered in favor of appellants in the amount of $300.


            Before addressing the merits of this appeal, we will address respondents’ claim that the appeal is untimely because it was filed ten months after the judgment in favor of appellants was entered following the jury’s verdict that appellants were not negligent.  Respondents are correct that an appeal from the original judgment would be untimely.  Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 104.02 provides that the “[t]ime to appeal from the judgment * * * shall not be extended by the subsequent insertion therein of costs and disbursements.”  But this appeal does not involve any issues decided in the original judgment.  The appeal involves only issues related to costs and disbursements.

            The district court entered a separate judgment regarding costs and disbursements, rather than amending the original judgment as contemplated by Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 104.02. 

Generally, the scope of review on appeal from an amended judgment is limited to issues directly affected by the amended judgment, which were not reviewable on appeal from the original judgment.


Geckler v. Samuelson, 438 N.W.2d 740, 741 (Minn. App. 1989) (citation omitted).

            Because the original judgment did not include costs and disbursements, appellants could not have sought review of costs and disbursements on appeal from that judgment.  Appellants prevailed at trial and had no reason to appeal until the district court’s ruling on costs and disbursements was reduced to judgment.  Entry of the original judgment on the merits did not define the period during which appellants could appeal.  Because the appeal is from the later judgment, we will limit our review to issues directly affected by that judgment and not reviewable on appeal from the original judgment. 

In actions commenced in the district court, costs shall be allowed as follows:  * * *

To defendant: Upon discontinuance or dismissal or when judgment is rendered in the defendant’s favor on the merits, $200.


Minn. Stat. § 549.02, subd. 1 (2000).

            Respondents concede that because appellants were defendants in the district court and judgment was entered in their favor, the district court erred when it failed to award appellants costs of $200 pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 549.02, subd. 1.

Minn. Stat. § 549.04 (2000) provides that “[i]n every action in a district court, the prevailing party * * * shall be allowed reasonable disbursements paid or incurred.”

The determination of what costs are reasonable is left to the discretion of the trial court.  We will reverse the trial court only for an abuse of this discretion.  The trial court does not have discretion to deny costs and disbursements to the prevailing party.


Quade & Sons Refrigeration, Inc. v. Minn. Mining & Mfg. Co., 510 N.W2d 256, 260 (Minn. App. 1994) (citations omitted), review denied (Minn. Mar. 15, 1994).

Minn. Stat. § 357.25 (2000) provides:

The judge of any court of record, before whom any witness is summoned or sworn and examined as an expert in any profession or calling, may allow such fees or compensation as may be just and reasonable.


“A discretionary award of expert fees will only be disturbed if there has been an abuse of discretion.”  Stinson v. Clark Equip. Co., 473 N.W.2d 333, 337 (Minn. App. 1991), review denied (Minn. Sept. 13, 1991).

Under [the abuse-of-discretion] standard, a matter will not be disturbed on appeal unless the trial court abused its discretion, exercised its discretion in an arbitrary or capricious manner, or based its ruling on an erroneous view of the law.


Montgomery Ward & Co.  v. County of Hennepin, 450 N.W.2d 299, 306 (Minn. 1990) (citations omitted); see also Cooter & Gell v. Hartmarx Corp., 496 U.S. 384, 405, 110 S. Ct. 2447, 2461 (1990) (“A district court would necessarily abuse its discretion if it based its ruling on an erroneous view of the law * * *.”).

The memorandum that accompanied the district court’s order states, in its entirety:

[Appellants’] motion seeks fees of $16,557.03 as taxation of costs and disbursements.  The bulk of the costs is from Roger Burgmeier in an amount of $12,115.38 for his testimony and evaluation.  [Appellants] also seek fees for Dr. Paul Yellin whom did not testify but rather provided an I.M.E. and a deposition.


Under Minn. Gen. R. 127 and Minn. R. Civ. P. 54.04 and Minn. Stat. § 549.02 and 549.04 and § 357.25 the court may allow $300.00 per day on affidavit showing that a fee equaling or exceeding $300.00 has been billed.  This may be increased or decreased by the court and shall be in an amount deemed reasonable in the area.  No allowance shall be made for preparation or in conducting of experiments outside the courtroom.  The costs and disbursements must be in detail and verified by affidavit.  Stinson v. Clark Equipment Co., 473 N.W.2d 333 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).  The award of costs and disbursements is within the district court’s discretion and will not be reversed on appeal unless there is an abuse of discretion.  Streibel v. Minnesota State High School League, 321 N.W.2d 400, 403 (Minn. 1982).  The key in determining whether an abuse of discretion has occurred is whether the costs are “reasonable and necessary.”  Id.


The amounts claimed by [appellants] are well beyond reasonable costs for the amounts billed, the work performed including depositions as well as the collision analysis when looked at in the light of the trial testimony provided.


            This memorandum does not address the reasonableness of several of the costs and disbursements that appellants sought, and the court made no separate findings.  Also, the memorandum misstates the law in two respects.  First, the memorandum states, “No allowance shall be made for preparation or in conducting of experiments outside the courtroom.”  In Mohwinkel v. City of N. St. Paul, this court stated:

District Court Code Rule 11[1] cannot be held to disallow compensation for all preparations outside the courtroom.  Minn. Stat. § 357.25 provides the trial court with the discretionary authority to award an expert witness just and reasonable compensation.  Its exercise of discretion under § 357.25 is expected to be based in part on pretrial preparation required in order to give this testimony.  Rule 11 may disallow fees for outside preparations which are merely convenient, but it does not disallow those necessary for testimony.


357 N.W.2d 174, 177 (Minn. App. 1984) (quotation omitted), review denied (Minn. Feb. 19, 1985).

            Second, citing Striebel v. Minn. State High Sch. League, 321 N.W.2d 400, 403 (Minn. 1982), the memorandum states, “The key in determining whether an abuse of discretion has occurred is whether the costs are ‘reasonable and necessary.’”  In Jonsson v. Ames Constr., Inc., 409 N.W.2d 560, 563 (Minn. App. 1987), review denied (Minn. Sept. 30, 1987), this court noted that Minn. Stat. § 549.04 had been amended and that Striebel

applied the pre-1983 standard of necessity.  The trial court’s discretion is now addressed to the reasonableness of disbursements paid or incurred.


* * * The statute is clear “[t]he prevailing party * * * shall be allowed reasonable disbursements.”  The standard by which the court’s discretion is measured is whether expenditures are reasonable.   Therefore, absent a specific finding that the costs were unreasonable, the court shall approve recovery of disbursements.


            Because the district court’s memorandum indicates that the court based its ruling on an erroneous view of the law, we conclude that the court abused its discretion.  Therefore, we reverse the denial of appellants’ motion for costs and disbursements and remand to permit the district court to determine whether the costs and disbursements appellants requested, including disbursements for pretrial preparation, are reasonable.  Also, because judgment was rendered in appellants’ favor on the merits, we direct the district court to award appellants $200 in statutory costs pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 549.02, subd. 1.

Reversed and remanded.   

[1] District Court Code Rule 11 is the predecessor to Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 127, the rule cited by the district court.  The language of Rule 127 is not identical with the language of Rule 11, but there is not a substantive difference between the two rules.