This opinion will be unpublished and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
Brian J. Peterson,
Filed May 16, 2006
Crow Wing County District Court
File No. C3-03-1646
Brian J. Peterson, 6445 Baycliffe Drive, Excelsior, MN 55331 (pro se respondent)
Mark E. Fuller, Mark Fuller & Associates, Ltd., 7301 Ohms Lane, Suite 325, Edina, MN 55439 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Willis, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
In this attorney’s-lien-foreclosure action, the district court granted respondent two liens for attorney fees against appellant Lee Miller’s property. Appellant argues that the statute of limitations bars respondent’s attempts to establish and foreclose attorney’s liens. We affirm.
D E C I S I O N
construction and applicability of a statute of limitations is a question of law
that this court reviews de novo. Benigni v.
No lien against real property shall be enforced unless the lienholder, by filing either a complaint or an answer with the court administrator, asserts a lien within one year after the filing of the notice of intention to claim a lien, unless within the one-year time period the owner has agreed to a longer time period to assert the lien . . . . In no event may the lien be asserted more than three years after filing. No person is bound by any judgment in the action unless made a party to the action within the time limit.
Minn. Stat. § 481.13, subd. 3 (2004) (emphasis added) (as amended 2002).
In addition, the session laws prescribed the effective date for the amendment:
This section is effective August 1, 2002, and applies to a notice of intention to claim a lien filed on or after that date. Subdivision 3 of this section applies to notices of intention to claim a lien filed prior to August 1, 2002. These liens expire on August 1, 2003, unless prior to August 1, 2003, the lienholder complies with the provisions of subdivision 3 by filing either a complaint or an answer with the court administrator and filing with the county recorder or registrar of titles, where appropriate, a notice of lis pendens of the action.
Here, respondent filed notices of attorney’s liens in 1991 and 1994. He then commenced an action to foreclose on the liens in July 2003, a month before the liens would expire under Minn. Stat. § 481.13, subd. 3. Appellant contends that respondent’s claims are barred by the six-year statute of limitations under Minn. Stat. § 541.05, subd. 1 (2004). We disagree.
the plain language of Minn. Stat. § 481.13 and the session laws as enacted in
2002 provide a statute of limitations for attorney’s-lien actions. If an attorney filed a notice of attorney’s
lien before August 1, 2002, that attorney had until August 1, 2003, to file a
complaint or an answer. 2002
Second, the legislature’s combined actions of enacting a statute of limitations for attorney’s liens and implementing an expiration date for outstanding but unenforced attorney’s liens indicates that no previous statute of limitations existed. It is reasonable to conclude that by amending Minn. Stat. § 481.13, the legislature was attempting to remedy a problem of outstanding attorney’s liens.
Minnesota Title Standard No. 107 (Title Standard No. 107) is consistent with
the plain language of Minn. Stat. § 481.13.
In conclusion, because respondent filed a complaint to enforce the notices of attorney’s liens before August 1, 2003, respondent’s attorney’s-lien claims did not expire under the attorney’s-lien statute of limitations. Therefore, the district court did not err in hearing the case on the merits and deciding in favor of respondent.