This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Filed January 10, 2006
Fillmore County District Court
File No. CX-02-472
Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Wright, Judge.
Because the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying appellant’s posttrial motions, we affirm.
Appellant argues that he is entitled to reconsideration or a new trial because “the only defense offered by [respondent as of] the date of trial was that money and property given [to her by appellant] were [i]rrevocable gifts” and that no other defense was raised in respondent’s answer. Appellant insists that in this defense, respondent “admits [that] she took the property as gifts.” Appellant further insists that he was surprised by respondent’s trial testimony, which denied the existence of these gifts and which he claims constituted perjury.
complaint alleged that during the parties’ engagement, he allowed certain
assets to be kept by respondent in anticipation of marriage and claimed that
these gifts should be returned to him as the grantor. As such, his claims appear based on the
doctrine set out in Benassi v. Back &
Neck Pain Clinic, Inc., 629 N.W.2d 475, 483-86 (
to reconsider is “prohibited except by express permission of the [district]
court, which will be granted only upon a showing of compelling
Even if we liberally construe appellant’s motion as raising specific grounds, we cannot conclude that the district court abused its discretion in denying him a new trial. See, e.g., Minn. R. Civ. P. 59.01(a) (irregularity of proceedings “whereby the moving party was deprived of a fair trial”), (b) (misconduct of prevailing party), (c) (surprise “which could not have been prevented by ordinary prudence”), (d) (“[m]aterial evidence newly discovered, which with reasonable diligence could not have been found and produced at the trial”). As the district court recognized, the majority of appellant’s arguments “boil down to him being unprepared for trial and not having any rebuttal witnesses available or ready to testify.” The district court noted that appellant “had ample opportunity to prepare for the [October 2003] court trial” because the original complaint was filed in August 2002. The court further noted that even though appellant was appearing pro se, it was his duty to present his case and submit evidence. The court finally noted that because the evidence appellant sought to submit was known to him at the time of trial, appellant’s request to reopen the case for additional discovery would be denied.
litigants are generally held to the same standards as attorneys and must comply
with court rules. Fitzgerald v. Fitzgerald, 629 N.W.2d 115, 119-20 (
A district court nevertheless has a duty to ensure fairness to a pro se litigant by allowing reasonable accommodation so long as the adverse party is not prejudiced. Kasson State Bank v. Haugen, 410 N.W.2d 392, 395 (Minn. App. 1987) (reversing grant of summary judgment against pro se litigant where litigant requested continuance at hearing after learning of summary judgment motion day before). The district court here provided reasonable accommodation to appellant, and, as the court indicated, it was “as patient as possible in its dealings with” appellant. Contrary to appellant’s argument on appeal, the district court did not violate Minn. Code of Jud. Conduct, Canon 3, which requires a judge to perform his duties impartially and diligently; to be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants; and to accord every person the right to be heard.
Finally, it should be noted that appellant does not really challenge the district court’s findings as not reasonably based on the evidence and testimony that was presented at trial. The district court specifically found respondent’s testimony to be more credible than appellant’s. See Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01 (providing that fact-finder has ability to judge credibility of witnesses). The findings made by the district court are reasonably based on the evidence, not clearly erroneous, and support the court’s conclusions and its decision to dismiss appellant’s claims against respondent.