This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Bonnie Jean Alama,
Melvin Patrick Alama,
Filed June 17, 2003
Wright County District Court
File No. F7001469
Brian M. Olsen, Brian M. Olsen Law Office, Post Office Box 988, Cokato, MN† 55321 (for appellant)
Rhonda L. Pagel, Shadduck Young & Brown, LLP, 63 Oak Avenue South, Post Office Box 859, Annandale, MN† 55302 (for respondent)
††††††††††† Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Hudson, Judge.
††††††††††† In this child support modification matter, appellant Bonnie Jean Alama challenges the district courtís orders denying her attorney fees, awarding attorney fees to respondent Melvin Patrick Alama, and imposing discovery sanctions that prevented her from introducing documentary evidence at the hearing.
††††††††††† Because the record supports the district courtís determinations regarding attorney fees and the imposition of discovery sanctions, we affirm.
††††††††††† The district courtís award of attorney fees will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion.† Gully v. Gully, 599 N.W.2d 814, 825 (Minn. 1999).†† Attorney fees may be either need-based or conduct-based.† Minn. Stat. ß 518.14, subd. 1 (2002).† In order to award need-based fees, the district court must find that (1) the fees were necessary for a good-faith assertion of a partyís rights; (2) the party ordered to pay fees has the means to pay them; and (3) the party to whom the fees are awarded does not have the means to pay them.† Id.† The district court may, in its discretion, order the payment of additional, conduct-based fees where one party has contributed to the length or expense of the overall proceeding.† Id.†
††††††††††† In addition to making findings that would support an award of need-based fees, the district court also found:
This award of attorneysí fees is conduct-based due to the failure of [appellant] to timely respond to the discovery requests of the Respondentís attorney and, in particular, the failure of [appellant] and her attorney to provide a witness list and copies of exhibits as required by the Courtís Order filed September 12, 2002.
Because this finding supports an award of conduct-based fees, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in making such an award.
††††††††††† Appellant argues that the district court could not award fees because respondent failed to comply with rules that require the party seeking attorney fees to file a motion, including an affidavit and memorandum.† Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 119.01, .02, .04.† A separate motion, however, is not required if the request is for less than $1,000.† Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 119.01.† Here, each request, including the final award, was for less than that.
††††††††††† In addition, the requirements of rule 119 are ďnot intended to limit the courtís discretion, but [are] intended to encourage streamlined handling of fee applications and to facilitate filing of appropriate support to permit consideration of this issue.Ē† Gully, 599 N.W.2d at 826.† The district court may waive rule 119 requirements where it is ďfamiliar with the history of the case and has access to the partiesí financial information.Ē† Id.† Here, the district court was familiar with the case and the financial status of the parties.† We therefore conclude that the fee award to respondent was not an abuse of discretion.† Nor was the district courtís failure to award attorney fees to appellant an abuse of discretion where her attorney failed to respond to respondentís requests for clarification, timely complete discovery, or comply with the district courtís order respecting trial management issues.
††††††††††† The district court may also sanction a party for failing to comply with a discovery order by prohibiting the party from entering designated matters into evidence.† Minn. R. Civ. P. 37.02(b).† Although such a sanction is severe, when the district court has issued a clear warning of its intent to sanction the non-complying party, a sanction may be deemed appropriate.† See Sudheimer v. Sudheimer, 372 N.W.2d 792, 795 (Minn. App. 1985).† Here, the district court, both orally in court and by subsequent written order issued the following day, set specific dates and gave detailed instructions for the production of documents.† Appellant met none of these requirements.† The district court ameliorated its order by permitting appellant to testify orally.† Although this sanction is severe, it was within the district courtís discretion to impose it.