This opinion will be unpublished and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
Ran Mart Stucco, Texture & Drywall, Incorporated,
Danna Homes, Inc., et al.,
Danna, Inc., et al.,
QSSC, Inc., d/b/a Quality Scaffolding
Solutions, intervening defendant,
Filed September 19, 2006
Hennepin County District Court
File No. LN 05-9912
Kurt J. Erickson, McCollum,
Crowley, Moschet & Miller, Ltd., 700 Wells
David G. Hellmuth, Christopher P. Parrington, Hellmuth & Johnson, PLLC, 10400 Viking Drive, Suite 500, Eden Prairie, Minnesota 55344 (for respondents Danna Homes, Inc., et al.)
Martin D. Kappenman, Moore,
Costello & Hart, PLLP,
Considered and decided by Worke, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Hudson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
On appeal from the district court’s sua sponte dismissal of a mechanic’s lien action and the district court’s subsequent refusal to reopen the judgment, appellant argues that the district court (1) erred by dismissing its claim without first giving appellant notice; (2) violated its due process rights; and (3) erred by denying appellant’s motion to reopen the judgment. Because the district court abused its discretion when it denied appellant’s motion to reopen the judgment, we reverse and remand. Because we reverse on that basis, we do not reach appellant’s due process claim.
district court may “upon its own initiative, or upon motion of a party, and
upon such notice as it may prescribe, dismiss an action or claim for failure to
prosecute or to comply with these rules or any order of the court.”
On September 13, 2005, the district court dismissed appellant’s claim without prejudice because appellant failed to comply with the deadline to submit an informational statement. Therefore, the district court dismissed appellant’s claim for failure to comply with a court order or rule, rather than, as suggested by the parties, failure to prosecute.
Rule 41.02(a) grants the district court discretion to prescribe the amount of notice necessary for an involuntary dismissal, but this court has previously determined that rule 41.02(a) “does not provide that the court may dismiss a case without any notice to a party.” Chisholm v. Foley, 427 N.W.2d 278, 281 (Minn. App. 1988) (reversing the district court’s involuntary dismissal under rule 41.02 for failure to provide written notice to a party). Appellant argues its claim was dismissed without proper notice. We disagree.
Shortly after appellant filed its claim, the district court issued a notice of judicial officer assignment, a document that contained a paragraph instructing the parties to file an informational statement within 60 days in accordance with rule 111.02 of the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts. The notice of judicial officer assignment constituted sufficient notice within the meaning of rule 41.02(a) and Chisholm. It clearly informed both parties that filing an informational statement was required and explicitly stated that “[f]ailure to timely file any required document or other failure to comply with the general rules of practice for the district courts may result in the imposition of sanctions, including possible dismissal of the case or striking of the answer.” (Emphasis added.) We conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by dismissing appellant’s claim pursuant to rule 41.02(a), and we decline to reverse on these grounds. Nonetheless, once the district court notified respondents of its sua sponte decision to dismiss, the proper course of action would have been to notify appellants as well.
motion by a party, rule 60.02 permits a court to reopen a judgment for various
reasons, including “mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect.”
To satisfy the first prong of the Finden test, a party must demonstrate the existence of “a debatably meritorious claim.” Charson, 419 N.W.2d at 492. The record shows that a subcontract agreement existed between the parties, and that the parties dispute whether that contract was properly terminated and whether appellant is owed compensation for work performed. Based on the record, we conclude appellant has satisfied this requirement.
With regard to the second prong, appellant argues that its failure to file the informational statement was excusable neglect. Appellant explains that it intentionally did not file an informational statement and did not intend to file one until after the hearing on respondent’s motion to stay litigation and compel arbitration, reasoning that if the case moved into arbitration the informational statement would become moot. We agree with the district court’s characterization of this argument as unpersuasive. Moreover, apart from the merits of appellant’s position, inexplicably, appellant did not notify the district court or respondent of its rationale for not filing the informational statement.
With regard to the third prong of the Finden test, we conclude that appellant acted with due diligence when it moved for reconsideration one day after it received notice of the dismissal and, therefore, satisfied the third prong of the Finden test.
regard to the final prong of the Finden
test, appellant argues that reopening the judgment would not have caused respondent
to suffer substantial prejudice. Here,
the district court dismissed appellant’s claim one day after the deadline to
file an informational statement. Had the
district court reopened the judgment upon appellant’s motion, the resulting delay
would have been minimal. Prejudice results
from every delay,
court has previously held that a weak showing on one factor of the Finden test can be balanced against a
strong showing on the other three factors.
Riemer v. Zahn, 420 N.W.2d
659, 661–62 (
Reversed and remanded.