This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
VoiceStream Minneapolis, Inc.,
d/b/a T-Mobile, a Delaware corporation,
RPC Properties, Inc.,
Filed February 20, 2007
Ramsey County District Court
File No. C4-04-8028
Tamara O’Neill Moreland, Larkin, Hoffman, Daly & Lindgren, Ltd., 1500 Wells Fargo Plaza, 7900 Xerxes Avenue South, Bloomington, MN 55431-1194 (for respondent)
Lawrence H. Crosby, Jay D. Olson, Crosby & Associates, Roseville West, 2277 Highway 36 West, Suite 234E, St. Paul, MN 55113 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge; Wright, Judge; and Crippen, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant RPC Properties, Inc., made a motion to the district court seeking enforcement of a settlement agreement and requesting attorney fees and consequential damages. The district court granted the motion, awarded attorney fees and costs, but did not grant appellant’s request for consequential damages. Appellant now challenges (1) the adequacy of the district court’s order because it does not expressly state its reasoning for denying consequential damages; (2) the district court’s denial of appellant’s request for an additional evidentiary hearing; and (3) the denial of a consequential damages award. We affirm.
D E C I S I O N
In 2000, appellant and respondent contracted to permit respondent to place antenna equipment on the roof of appellant’s building. Subsequently, appellant alleged that respondent’s equipment had damaged the roof, causing it to leak. After respondent brought suit for breach of contract, the parties reached a mediated settlement that required respondent to remove its equipment to allow repairs to be made to the roof. But the agreement did not specify a time when respondent’s performance was due.
Four months after the settlement agreement, respondent’s equipment remained on appellant’s roof. Appellant brought a motion to enforce the settlement, requesting the prompt removal of the equipment and “monetary damages, to be established in a subsequent evidentiary hearing” or “such other relief as the Court is pleased to grant.” Appellant also submitted an affidavit, attesting to $68,225.30 in consequential damages resulting from respondent’s delay.
By the time the district court heard appellant’s motion a month later, respondent had removed the equipment in question. Although enforcement of the settlement agreement was no longer necessary, the issues of liability and damages remained.
The district court’s order concluded that the parties intended the obligations of the settlement agreement to be completed within a reasonable time and that a delay of five months after the settlement agreement was reached was “not a reasonable delay.” The district court granted appellant’s motion to enforce the settlement and granted attorney fees and costs to be established through the submission of an affidavit by appellant’s attorney, but did not mention consequential damages.
Appellant’s attorney submitted an affidavit setting forth attorney fees and costs totaling $2,550 and asked for a hearing “to examine the witnesses . . . in order to determine whether the damages flowed from the breach of the settlement agreement or were too remote.” Appellant attached affidavits from two of appellant’s tenants as evidence of the claimed damage.
Respondent objected to appellant’s request in a submission of its own noting that appellant was using the submission “as a second opportunity to request additional amounts not awarded in the Court’s . . . Order.” Respondent also stated that in order for appellant to be awarded any damages, it would need to provide evidence that:
1) Any damages claimed by [appellant] occurred after the Settlement Agreement. It appears that [appellant] is seeking reimbursement for property damage which was included in the original action and subject to the terms of the Settlement Agreement.
2) Any claimed damages were the result of [respondent’s] actions. Evidence in [respondent’s] possession demonstrates that the roof leaked prior to [respondent’s] occupancy . . . .
3) Any damages were submitted to [appellant’s] insurance and denied . . . as required by the Lease between the parties.
Appellant made subsequent submissions to the court asking for an additional hearing and consequential damages, which respondent opposed. On December 14, 2005, the district court awarded appellant its requested attorney fees, but did not award or discuss consequential damages.
Appellant argues that the district court’s silence as to consequential damages is error because the court “[a]bdicated [its] obligation to enter an adequately-founded decision.” We disagree.
An appeal from a decision on a motion to enforce a settlement agreement is reviewed under an abuse of discretion standard. Johnson v. St. Paul Ins. Cos., 305 N.W.2d 571, 573 (Minn. 1981). “Findings of fact and conclusions of law are unnecessary on decisions on motions pursuant to Rules 12 [(motion for judgment on pleadings)] or 56 [(summary judgment)] or any other motion.” Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01. And when a matter is decided on motions, written findings of fact are “not technically required.” Johnson v. Johnson, 232 N.W.2d 204, 205-06 (Minn. 1975). Here, the district court did not have an obligation to make findings of facts and conclusions of law regarding consequential damages under Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01, because the matter was before the court on a motion.
Furthermore, a district court’s silence in regard to requested relief may be deemed a denial of such relief. In Hughes v. Sinclair Mktg., Inc., 389 N.W.2d 194 (Minn. 1986), a party sought attorney fees and a 1.5 multiplier. Id. at 200. We found error in the district court’s failure to rule on the issue of the multiplier, but the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed, holding that the silence was a denial based on the wording of the petition and the court’s order. Id.
Here, appellant repeatedly informed the district court of its desire to pursue consequential damages and the district court explicitly acknowledged appellant’s request stating, “[S]o what you’re really asking for at this point is an opportunity to present to the Court any damages that may have been incurred as a result of the delay?” Following the September 29, 2005 order, appellant continued to request a hearing on consequential damages. Because appellant expressly and repeatedly made the court aware of its request for consequential damages or an evidentiary hearing on consequential damages and the district court expressly acknowledged these requests, we deem the district court’s silence as a denial of appellant’s request for consequential damages. Although we might prefer further explanation of the district court’s decision, the lack of such an explanation is not reversible error.
Appellant argues, without authority, that because the district court found that respondent’s performance was unreasonably late, the court had an obligation to determine the extent of damages to appellant stemming from the delay. We disagree.
Dispositive motions require the moving party to serve “[a]ny affidavits and exhibits to be submitted in conjunction with the motion” at least 28 days prior to the hearing. Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 115.03(a)(3). Nondispositive motions require such evidence to be submitted at least 14 days prior to the hearing. Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 115.04(a)(3). Further, “[n]o testimony will be taken at motion hearings except under unusual circumstances. Any party seeking to present witnesses at a motion hearing shall obtain prior consent of the court and shall notify the adverse party in the motion papers.” Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 115.08.
Here, appellant waited until the hearing on the motion to request an additional hearing to prove consequential damages. And nothing in the record indicates that the district court limited appellant’s presentation of evidence at the hearing on September 22, 2005. Because appellant’s motion to enforce the settlement agreement included a demand for consequential damages, the proper time and venue for appellant to present such evidence was at the hearing on September 22, 2005. We conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying appellant an additional hearing to establish consequential damages.
Appellant argues that sufficient evidence was before the court to warrant an award of consequential damages, and the failure to award such damages is error. Appellant also seems to assert that because respondent “made no effective effort to disprove” the damages alleged by appellant, the damages should have been granted. We disagree.
“[D]amages recoverable in contract actions are those arising naturally from the breach or those which can reasonably be supposed to have been contemplated by the parties.” Lassen v. First Bank Eden Prairie, 514 N.W.2d 831, 838 (Minn. App. 1994), review denied (Minn. June 29, 1994). Here, appellant seems to argue that because the district court order found that respondent unreasonably delayed its performance, respondent is liable for any alleged monetary losses incurred during the delay as a result of the leaking roof. But for this to be true, appellant must not only prove that respondent breached the settlement agreement, but also prove that the damages arose naturally from the breach.
Appellant submitted numerous affidavits showing that the building’s leaking roof resulted in monetary loss to appellant. But even after respondent asserted that an award of damages was premature absent a showing that they occurred after the settlement agreement or were the result of respondent’s actions, appellant failed to provide additional documentation regarding causation. And although the district court determined that respondent breached the settlement agreement due to its unreasonable delay, it did not make any findings regarding any damages that the delay may or may not have caused. Moreover, in a post-order submission, appellant seems to acknowledge that the evidence in the record did not mandate an award of damages when it sought an additional evidentiary hearing to determine whether the damages “flowed from the breach of the settlement agreement or were too remote.”
The district court was not obligated to conduct further evidentiary hearings on the issue of damages when appellant could have presented such evidence at the initial hearing on the motion. And the record here does not establish that appellant’s alleged damages were caused by respondent’s breach. Because the district court was under no obligation to grant appellant further evidentiary hearings and appellant did not submit evidence proving that its damages flowed from respondent’s unreasonable delay, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying appellant consequential damages.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.