This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).







County of Dakota,



Surayat Lola Horton,





Patrick Kunle Ayinde,




Filed October 18, 2005


Lansing, Judge


Dakota County District Court

File No. FX-03-3449



James C. Backstrom, Dakota County Attorney, Valisa L. McKinney, Assistant County Attorney, Dakota County Northern Service Center, One Mendota Road West, Suite 220, West St. Paul, MN 55118 (for respondent County of Dakota)


Sally K. Mortenson, 15025 Glazier Avenue, Suite 230, Apple Valley, MN 55124 (for appellant)


Patrick Kunle Ayinde, 17881 Jaguar Path, Lakeville, MN 55044 (pro se respondent)


            Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Stoneburner, Judge; and Worke, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


Surayat Horton, the obligee in an ongoing child-support proceeding, appeals the district court’s order directing Dakota County to release funds levied from Horton’s account to compensate the obligor, Patrick Ayinde, for child-support overpayments.  Because Horton’s challenge to the levy did not comply with the procedural  requirements for contesting a levy under Minn. Stat. § 552.06, subd. 5(b) (2004), the district court did not err in its equitable determination to release the levied funds to Ayinde.  We affirm.


            Patrick Ayinde and Surayat Horton are the parents of two children.  Ayinde paid child support to Horton and continued making the child-support payments even after the children moved from Horton’s home to Ayinde’s home in September 2002.  Horton was deported to Nigeria in August 2003.

            Ayinde moved to modify child support because of the changed circumstances.  The district court reserved child support effective September 1, 2002, and ordered the county to compute the overpayment of child support and institute automatic withholding from Horton.  Because Horton no longer earned wages in the United States, Dakota County imposed a support judgment levy on her bank account under Minn. Stat. § 552.06 (2004). 

Horton moved to vacate part of the order, specifically the part ordering the computation of Ayinde’s overpayment and the automatic withholding to recoup it. Conceding that the levy was not authorized by the statutory provisions for the summary execution for support judgment debts, Dakota County moved to vacate the same provisions and applied to the court for an order determining the appropriate party to receive the levied funds.  In a responsive motion, Ayinde requested that the court enforce the modification order and release the levied funds to him.  Horton also filed a responsive motion, requesting that the court order the funds be released to her.

The district court scheduled oral arguments on the disposition of the levied funds.  Following the hearing, the court issued an order observing that the county’s unauthorized levy deprived Ayinde of the opportunity to properly levy Horton’s account and directed Dakota County to release the levied funds to Ayinde.  Horton appeals that determination.


A support-judgment levy against an account at a financial institution may be challenged “on the limited grounds that the seizure or the amount seized is improper due to mistake of fact or that the funds held in the account are exempt from levy for child support purposes under state or federal law.”  Minn. Stat. § 552.06, subd. 5(b)(1) (2004).  The statute specifies the process available to contest an improper levy, which requires a motion alleging a mistake of fact or a basis for exemption.  Id., subd. 5(b)(2).  Statutory construction is a question of law subject to de novo review.  In re Welfare of A.A.E., 590 N.W.2d 773, 776 (Minn. 1999).

We note at the outset that Horton is correct that none of the applicable statutes authorizes Dakota County to levy her account, and Dakota County concedes it lacks legal authority for the levy.  See, e.g.,Minn. Stat. §§ 518.642 (authorizing only two methods to remedy child-support overpayment, neither of which is levying obligee’s account); 552.06, subd. 1(a) (2004) (permitting levy only against “judgment debtor who is in arrears in court-ordered support payments”).  But the statute is equally explicit in providing the methods for contesting a levy.  See Minn. Stat. § 552.06, subd. 5(b)(2)(i) (limiting process for challenging levy to motions to court administrator alleging mistake of fact or basis for exemption).  Consequently, we must first determine whether Horton properly complied with the procedural requirements to contest the levy.

Horton did not bring a motion directly challenging the lawfulness of the levy.  She neither alleged a mistake of fact nor a basis for exemption from the levy.  She also did not comply with the notice and other procedural requirements of challenging a levy under section 552.06.  Absent an account owner’s independent action for wrongful levy or a statutorily permissible challenge to the support levy, the district court’s obligation was to direct the appropriate release of the levied funds.

The limited determination of who is entitled to the levied funds in Dakota County’s possession is essentially a decision on the appropriate equitable remedy.  See Minn. R. Civ. P. 67.03 (stating that court may require party in possession of money that belongs to another to deposit money in court or deliver it to other party); Fritz v. Warthen, 298 Minn. 54, 61, 213 N.W.2d 339, 343 (1973) (observing that court has inherent power to release funds paid into court).  We review a district court’s order of equitable relief for abuse of discretion.  City of Cloquet v. Cloquet Sand & Gravel, Inc., 312 Minn. 277, 279, 251 N.W.2d 642, 644 (1977).  An equitable remedy for distribution may be based on unjust enrichment if a party knowingly receives a benefit that, under the circumstances, would be unjust to retain.  Southtown Plumbing, Inc. v. Har-Ned Lumber Co., 493 N.W.2d 137, 140 (Minn. App. 1992).  Thus, a district court may properly order equitable relief when a party receives money or property of another that in “equity and good conscience” should be repaid.  Klass v. Twin City Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass’n, 291 Minn. 68, 71, 190 N.W.2d 493, 494-95 (1971) (quotation omitted).

The record supports the district court’s determination that Ayinde overpaid child support and that Horton received approximately $4,750 to which she was not entitled.  Horton does not contend that she was entitled to the child-support payments; thus, it is undisputed that she knowingly received a benefit to which she is not entitled.  Dakota County, the current holder of the funds, explicitly acknowledges that it has knowingly received funds that it should not retain.  Neither Horton nor Dakota County presented an equitable basis for the release of the funds to them.  The district court reasonably considered that the children had resided with Ayinde during the time the support payments were made to Horton.  Based on these considerations, the district court made an equitable determination that Dakota County should release the funds to Ayinde.  In light of the record, this equitable remedy is not a legal error or an abuse of discretion, and we affirm the district court’s order.