This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Russell Grant Limited,
Scott Equipment Company,
Filed May 30, 2006
Scott County District Court
File No. 70-2005-04032
Pearson, Dorsey & Whitney, LLP,
Michael D. Schwartz, Michael D. Schwartz, P.A., 455 Pond Promenade, Suite 210, P.O. Box 219, Chanhassen, MN 55317 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Shumaker, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant contends that the district court abused its discretion in denying appellant’s motions to vacate a foreign judgment and to stay execution of that judgment. Appellant argues that the judgment was obtained by fraud. Because the court did not abuse its discretion in its rulings, we affirm.
This appeal calls into question the legitimacy of a British judgment for damages against the appellant, who claims that the judgment was the product of the respondent’s fraud on both the appellant and the British court.
Russell Grant Limited (RGL) is a
RGL negotiated with SEC for the purchase and installation of fish-drying equipment to be used in RGL’s business. The parties reached an oral agreement, subject to a written memoralization, and RGL made a down payment of 50,000 pounds sterling. Shortly thereafter, the parties signed a written agreement, and SEC installed the equipment. It was agreed that the fish waste that RGL would process “shall contain at least 80% water and . . . shall be of the species haddock melanogrammus aeglefinus or cod gadus morhua.”
RGL began to use the drying equipment but found that it frequently caught on fire and had other alleged defects. The parties disputed the adequacy of the equipment and SEC’s contention that the fish RGL was processing were too oily for the proper operation of the equipment. Unable to resolve the dispute, RGL sued SEC for breach of contract and misrepresentation.
case was tried for 15 days in Her Majesty’s High Court of Justice, Queen’s
At trial, SEC contended that RGL had defrauded it through the omission of the conditions of sale on page one. In its findings, the court noted that SEC invited it to infer that the parties had agreed that all three pages of the standard conditions of sale were to be incorporated into the contract, subject only to the amendments on page two, and that it was merely a clerical oversight that page one was not made a physical part of the contract. RGL’s countervailing evidence on this issue was that page one contained some conditions unacceptable to RGL and other terms in conflict with the second-page amendments. From a drafting standpoint, RGL thought it best to eliminate the first page altogether. SEC contended at trial that this explanation was against the probabilities and should be rejected. Although the court found that RGL deliberately failed to call to SEC’s attention the elimination of page one when it returned a revised draft of the contract to SEC, the court was persuaded as to the truth of RGL’s drafting solution, stating:
A facile, rough and ready solution to the problem was to have page one omitted altogether. Thus the need for sophisticated re-drafting was obviated, speedy progress towards their mutually desired early formation of a contract was maintained—and [RGL’s] interests were served by the omission of certain potentially adverse terms.
the conclusion of the trial, the
the pendency of the appeal, RGL docketed the judgment in
British appellate court affirmed the
After the British appellate court issued its final decision, SEC moved for a further stay of enforcement of the judgment, arguing that, if a further stay were not granted, there would be a conflict between the British judgment and the judgment SEC anticipated obtaining against Derek Grant. The district court denied the motion for further stay, and RGL garnished certain funds of SEC on deposit at a bank.
SEC appeals the denials of the motions to vacate the judgment and to stay enforcement of the judgment.
D E C I S I O N
essence of this appeal is SEC’s contention that it established in the
Mercantile Court RGL's fraud in the inducement and formation of the contract that
the parties entered and that the
a money judgment is final, conclusive, and enforceable in a foreign country in which
it is entered, it is recognized as conclusive and enforceable in the
And Minn. R. Civ. P. 60.02 provides that a court may relieve a party from a final judgment if the judgment resulted from fraud.
contends that the standard of review under rule 60.02 is that of abuse of
discretion, but that a review of a foreign country’s judgment is de novo
because it involves a question of law.
For this latter proposition, SEC cites a single authority, Nicol v. Tanner, 310
SEC claims it was denied due process
by a “local jurist” who engaged in “egregious and flagrant conduct” and who “rewarded”
RGL’s fraudulent conduct with “a judgment against the foreign Appellant.” This sarcastic “hometown decision” argument
is without merit. It is readily apparent
that during 15 days of litigation SEC was afforded a complete and unfettered
opportunity to present and argue its case and an equal opportunity to oppose RGL's
case. And, in detailed findings, the
SEC directs invective toward the
trial judge but fails to articulate any deficiency or irregularity whatsoever
in notice, jurisdiction, or opportunity to present its case as fully and
effectively as it was able. Thus, the
The district court acknowledged its discretion to refuse to enforce a foreign judgment obtained through fraud but denied SEC’s motion to vacate the British judgment because SEC did “not allege facts sufficient to support its allegation of fraud.”
SEC contends that it was induced to
enter the contract with RGL because of RGL’s misrepresentation of the type of
fish it intended to process and its fraudulent omission of the conditions of
sale on page one of the three pages of standard conditions. These issues were fully litigated, and the
Furthermore, we do not take the
phrase that “the judgment was obtained by fraud” in Minn. Stat. § 548.35,
subd. 4(b)(2), to refer to a fraud allegation that was clearly and consciously
litigated on its merits by the parties.
Rather, that phrase refers to deceit or distortion or concealment as to
some matter that caused a court to issue a judgment it would not have issued
had it not been duped. See Halloran v. Blue & White Liberty Cab
SEC has failed to show any type of
fraud on the
The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying SEC’s motion to vacate the British judgment and in refusing to continue to stay the enforcement of that judgment.