This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






In re the Marriage of:

Randi Conner, petitioner,





Thomas Conner,



Filed June 13, 2006


Worke, Judge


Stevens County District Court

File No. F1-02-121


Elroy Hanson, P. O. Box 340, Mahnomen, MN  56557 (for respondent)


David M. Van Sickle, 413 Wacouta Street, #100, St. Paul, MN  55101 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge; Hudson, Judge; and Worke, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

WORKE, Judge

            On appeal from the district court’s denial of appellant’s motion to reopen a dissolution judgment, appellant argues that (a) the district court misread and misapplied Doering v. Doering, 629 N.W.2d 124 (Minn. App. 2001), review denied (Minn. Sept. 11, 2001); and (b) the spousal-maintenance award was improperly based on injuries allegedly suffered by respondent as a result of appellant’s conduct when appellant was precluded from entering evidence on the question.  Because the district court did not err, we affirm.


            Appellant Thomas Conner argues that the district court erred in denying his motion to reopen the dissolution judgment based on respondent Randi Conner’s misrepresentations of the nature and extent of her alleged injuries from an assault on her by appellant.  A district court’s decision whether to reopen a judgment will be upheld unless the court abused its discretion.  Harding v. Harding, 620 N.W.2d 920, 922 (Minn. App. 2001), review denied (Minn. Apr. 17, 2001).  The district court’s findings as to whether the judgment was prompted by mistake or fraud will not be set aside unless they are clearly erroneous.  Hestekin v. Hestekin, 587 N.W.2d 308, 310 (Minn. App. 1998).

            A district court may reopen the record and relieve a party from an order or grant other relief when it finds “fraud, whether denominated intrinsic or extrinsic, misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party[.]”  Minn. Stat. § 518.145, subd. 2(3) (2004).  When a motion to reopen a dissolution judgment is made within one year after the entry of the judgment, the legal standard to be applied is ordinary fraud, not fraud on the court.  Doering v. Doering, 629 N.W.2d 124, 130 (Minn. App. 2001), review denied (Minn. Sept. 11, 2001).  Under the ordinary-fraud standard, “failure of a party to a dissolution to make a full and complete disclosure constitutes sufficient reason to reopen the dissolution judgment[.]”  Id. at 129.  The supreme court has declined to articulate a precise definition of “fraud on the court,” but has indicated that the difference between ordinary fraud and fraud on the court “is primarily a difference of degree rather than kind” and that reopening a judgment for ordinary fraud requires satisfaction of a less-strenuous standard.  Maranda v. Maranda, 449 N.W.2d 158, 165 (Minn. 1989); see Doering, 629 N.W.2d at 128-29 (contrasting standards for ordinary fraud and fraud on the court).

            In January 2005, this court affirmed the district court’s denial of appellant’s motion to modify or terminate spousal maintenance.  See Conner v. Conner, No. A04-1065, 2005 WL 89487 (Minn. App. Jan. 18, 2005).  Following that appeal, a stipulated dismissal with prejudice was filed in the personal-injury action filed by respondent against appellant regarding injuries she received in an assault by appellant in February 2002.  Based on the dismissal of the personal-injury action, appellant moved to reopen the decree to vacate or modify spousal maintenance, alleging that respondent misrepresented the extent of her injuries from the assault in the dissolution proceeding and that the district court and court of appeals relied on those misrepresentations regarding the maintenance award.

            In denying appellant’s motion, the district court determined that appellant “failed to articulate how [respondent’s] alleged fraud (whether intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or other alleged misconduct rendered the existing order unjust or unfair.”  The district court concluded that:

There is no evidence that [respondent] intentionally misrepresented the nature of the assault or her injuries to [appellant], to this court, or to the Court of Appeals.  In short, the record simply does not support [appellant’s] assertion that this court or the Court of Appeals were fraudulently influenced by evidence of [appellant’s] assault on [respondent] as it relates to the award of maintenance. 


The decree was based on a marital termination agreement reached by the parties.  Therefore, there was no reliance by the district court on the representations made by respondent regarding her injuries.  Further, the district court denied appellant’s motion to modify or terminate spousal maintenance, concluding:

It is clear in this case that [respondent’s] monthly expenses have increased and continue to exceed her income, that there continues to be a gap in the parties’ respective earning capacities, and [respondent] still requires permanent maintenance.  Therefore, [respondent’s] increase in income does not render the original maintenance order unreasonable or unfair. 


There was no reference to respondent’s injuries in denying the motion.  Finally, while this court did refer to respondent’s injuries in its decision, the district court’s decision was affirmed based on the fact that the findings were sufficient, the correct legal standard was applied, and there was no abuse of discretion in balancing the income and expenses of the parties in the district court’s findings.  See Conner, 2005 WL 89487, at *2-*3.  There is nothing in the record to support appellant’s claims of fraud by respondent.  The district court’s finding of a lack of fraud on the part of respondent was not clearly erroneous.  The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying appellant’s motion to reopen the record.