This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).






Gloria A. Fritz,





Mary Lee Wolff, et al.,

as Trustees of the Thomas A. Wolff Revocable Trust,



Filed January 25, 2005

Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded

Gordon W. Shumaker, Judge


Ramsey County District Court

File No. C0-02-011410



Robert W. Due, Susan A. Daudelin, Katz, Manka, Teplinsky, Due & Sobol, Ltd., Suite 4150, 225 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 555402 (for appellant)


James R. Doran, 416 East Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for respondents)


            Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge; Randall, Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


In this quiet title action, appellant mortgagor claims the examiner of titles and the district court erred by failing to apply a credit against the outstanding balance of a mortgage now held by the mortgagee’s heirs.  We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.


This is a quiet title action brought to determine the amount of indebtedness secured by a real estate mortgage appellant Gloria Fritz executed in favor of her creditor, Thomas O. Wolff, now deceased.  The respondents are the trustees of Wolff’s trust.

Fritz does not dispute the facts found by the examiner of titles after an evidentiary hearing, which were adopted by the district court.  Rather, Fritz contends that the examiner and the court improperly failed to apply a $59,000 credit that respondents conceded Fritz was entitled to receive.

The undisputed facts show that in March 1994, Wolff extended a line of credit to Fritz.  Fritz borrowed money against that credit line and repaid various amounts.

On May 19, 1998, Fritz executed a mortgage in favor of Wolff on her property on Summit Avenue in St. Paul.  A recital on the instrument indicated that the mortgage was given to secure $130,000.  Fritz contends that this was the maximum line of credit Wolff had agreed to extend.

Fritz was the contract-for-deed vendee of real estate commonly known as 1084 Jackson Street in St. Paul.  In September 1998, Fritz transferred this property to Wolff for a credit of $59,000 against her indebtedness to Wolff.  The examiner of titles found that respondents conceded this credit.

On September 20, 2001, Fritz and respondents entered a Subordination Agreement.  That agreement provided in part that the trustees and Fritz “agree that the current balance of said mortgage, including all accrued interest but excluding any credits to which Gloria A. Fritz may be legally entitled and excluding the payment of $30,000 described below, is $176,455.56 with interest calculated through September 30, 2001.”

The examiner’s findings show various credits against Fritz’s indebtedness to Wolff throughout the years, including $79,137, $5,000, $350, $18,950, and $30,000.  But nowhere is the $59,000, conceded to be a proper credit to Fritz, adequately accounted for.

The examiner noted that Wolff kept meticulous records through March 16, 1996, but that evidence as to the loans and payments is scant thereafter.  In his memorandum, the examiner explained that Fritz failed to keep records and was untruthful about values of assets and other matters.  He then set forth payments and credits after the Subordination Agreement.  These included “conceded credits,” but there is no mention of the $59,000, which was a conceded credit.  Fritz contends that the examiner and the district court erroneously omitted that credit, and she appeals.


Because Fritz either concedes or fails adequately to support challenges to the findings of the examiner and the court that the mortgage of May 19, 1998, is valid; that Fritz did not enter the Subordination Agreement under duress; that the Subordination Agreement is valid; and, before credits, the balance of Fritz’s indebtedness as reflected in the Subordination Agreement was $176,455.56, those determinations are affirmed.

            When reviewing findings of fact, our usual standard of review is that of clear error.  Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01.  But when findings are insufficient to facilitate meaningful review, we are unable to apply our usual standard.  Rapacke v. Rapacke, 442 N.W.2d 340, 343 (Minn. App. 1989).  In such case, a remand for additional findings is necessary.

            We know from the undisputed evidence that Fritz was entitled to a $59,000 credit against her indebtedness and that the Subordination Agreement recited a balance owing exclusive of credits to which Fritz was entitled.  It is also clear that no finding or conclusion accounts for the $59,000 credit or shows when or how or to what it might have been applied.  Perhaps the examiner treated this issue as a failure of proof, but a conceded credit need not be proved and we are unable to determine from this record what legal effect, if any, the examiner and the court gave to the conceded $59,000 credit.

          Fritz also contends that the examiner erroneously received into evidence an Affidavit and a Notice by Wolff respecting Fritz’s debt balance.  Both predated the Subordination Agreement.  The admission of evidence is discretionary with the court.  Kroning v. State Farm Auto. Ins. Co., 567 N.W.2d 42,45-46 (Minn. 1997).  We will not reverse an evidentiary ruling absent abuse of discretion.  Lindberg v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 498 N.W.2d 301, 303 (Minn. App. 1993).

            Fritz did not object to the admission of the Notice and thus, unless its admission was plain error, she has waived her right to have the issue of the admissibility of the Notice reviewed on appeal.  Van Buren v. State, 556 N.W.2d 548, 551 (Minn. 1996).  The plain-error standard requires that Fritz show that the admission of the Notice was error, that the error was plain, and that the error affected a substantial right.  Bernhardt v. State, 684 N.W.2d 465, 475 (Minn. 2004).  Fritz has failed to show that the admission of the Notice affected a substantial right.

            Although the Notice dated March 19, 1999, refers to a balance of $141,136.37, Fritz signed the Subordination Agreement on September 20, 2001, stating that the controlling balance, before credits, “is $176,455.56 with interest calculated through September 30, 2001.”  The Notice does not refer to any credit that might be applied against the balance in the Subordination Agreement.

            Fritz did object to the Affidavit dated December 8, 1998.  The Affidavit refers to a balance of $129,000.  Because the Affidavit was acknowledged, it was admissible over a foundational objection as a self-authenticated document.  Minn. R. Evid. 902(8).  We are not persuaded that the content of the Affidavit was admissible over a hearsay objection.  But we need not consider the issue further because, like the Notice, the debt balance in the Affidavit was superseded by the Subordination Agreement.  Nothing in the Affidavit could fairly be construed as a credit against the balance reflected in the Subordination Agreement.  Thus, even if the admission of the Affidavit was erroneous, it did not result in a material error.  See Minn. R. Civ. P. 61 (requiring harmless error to be ignored).

            All findings and conclusions except those that implicate the $59,000 credit are affirmed.  Because the $59,000 credit might be implicated in the balance finally adjudged, that portion of the judgment must be reversed, and the issue of the $59,000 credit is remanded for additional findings.  The examiner and the court shall have leave to reopen the record as may be appropriate,

            Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.