This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

A06-1818

 

In re Conservatorship of

Ruth V. Hopkins,

Protected Person.

 

Filed September 18, 2007

Affirmed

Parker, Judge*

 

Hennepin County District Court

File No. 27-P8-97-1381

 

Jennie M. Brown, 17905 Cascade Drive, Eden Prairie, MN 55347 (for appellant Ruth Hopkins)

 

Stephen C. Fiebiger, Stephen C. Fiebiger & Associates, Chartered, 2500 West County Road 42, Suite 190, Burnsville, MN 55337 (for respondent Carol S. Giuliani)

 

††††††††††† Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Parker, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D†† O P I N I O N

 

PARKER, Judge

 

††††††††††† Appellant challenges a July 2006 district court order discharging respondent-conservator, arguing that her nursing home did not have authority to submit a receipt on her behalf for the balance due on her conservatorship accounts, the condition precedent for the conservatorís discharge.† We affirm.

D E C I S I O N

In 1997, the district court appointed respondent Carol S. Giuliani as co-guardian of the person and sole conservator of the estate of appellant Ruth Hopkins.† Appellant has a history of mental illness that manifests itself in a fixed false belief that she can communicate with other species, particularly mice and fruit flies.† Despite appellant's illness, her capacity to make medical decisions was restored in June 2003.†

Appellant possessed a life estate in a house previously owned by her mother. †In October 2003, respondent filed a petition to sell this real estate, claiming that appellantís personal property was insufficient to pay debts and other charges against the estate, or to provide for appellantís support and maintenance.† Respondent alleged that it was in the best interests of appellant to sell the real estate because appellant was no longer able to live independently at home.†

In May 2004, the district court granted respondentís petition to sell the real estate, and the home was sold in September 2004.† This court affirmed the district courtís denial of appellantís motion to vacate the May 2004 order allowing the sale of the real estate.† See In re Conservatorship of Hopkins, 2005 WL 1514441 (Minn. App. June 28, 2005).

In February 2006, the district court heard appellantís petition for an order restoring her to capacity as to her person and estate.† During the same hearing, respondent petitioned for an order allowing her fifth, sixth, seventh, and final accounts and discharging her as conservator.† Appellant objected to the accounts on the ground that respondent unconstitutionally deprived her of her property.

In May 2006, the district court filed an order for termination of guardianship and conservatorship, finding that a guardian or conservator would not be of any further assistance to appellant.† In a separate order, the court approved respondentís fifth, sixth, and seventh accounts.† The court amended respondentís final account and concluded that total receipts were $64,795.47, total disbursements were $63,527.88, and that the balance due appellant was $1,267.59, consisting of a computer, desk, chair, and $473.83 in cash.† The district court ordered that respondent conservator be discharged upon filing a receipt from appellant for the balance due.†

In July 2006, after appellant refused to sign the check for the remaining balance issued by respondent, respondent placed the remaining $473.83 balance in appellantís trust account at Chateau Health Center (CHC), where she resided.† Acting on behalf of appellant, an employee of the CHC filed a receipt with the district court for the balance due from respondentís final account of May 2006.† The district court discharged respondent as conservator.† This appeal followed.

Discharge of respondent-conservator

Appellant argues the district court abused discretion by (1) allowing CHC to accept appellantís balance-due funds and place them into her trust account after she had originally refused them; and (2) accepting a receipt from CHC for the balance due as its† basis for discharging respondent as conservator. ††This court reviews decisions related to the best interests of protected persons for an abuse of discretion.† In re Conservatorship of Brady, 607 N.W.2d 781, 784 (Minn. 2000).† The district courtís findings will not be set aside unless clearly erroneous. †Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01; see also In re Conservatorship of Moore, 409 N.W.2d 14, 16 (Minn. App. 1987) (stating that the district courtís approval of a conservatorís accounting for disbursements is reviewed for clear error).

Under Minn. Stat. ß 524.5-431(a) (2006), a conservatorship terminates upon order of the court.† ďThe order of termination must provide for expenses of administration and direct the conservator to execute appropriate instruments to evidence the transfer of title or confirm a distribution . . . and to file a final report and a petition for discharge upon approval of the final report.Ē† Id.at (e). †The court shall enter a final order of discharge upon the approval of the final report and satisfaction by the conservator of any other conditions placed by the court on the conservatorís discharge.† Id. at (f).†

Here, the conservator strictly followed the statutory requirements for terminating the conservatorship, and the district court accepted the receipt for discharge filed by the CHC, even though its termination order requested a receipt from appellant.† Further, appellant admits that she currently lives at CHC and has control over the funds in her trust account, including the balance due from respondent.† While appellant believes she was unjustly deprived of her home, she cannot thwart the discharge of respondent as her conservator when the statutory requirements for discharge have been fulfilled.† This appeal attempts to forestall the inevitable, namely, the eventual discharge of respondent as conservator.† On this record, the district court did not abuse discretion.


Sale of home

††††††††††† Appellant implies that because the district court ordered the sale of her home due to her mental illness, and then later granted her petition to terminate her guardianship, she was unjustly deprived of her property in violation of due process of law.[1]† Appellant made the same argument in her prior appeal, and the district court found that this court had addressed the issue.† See In re Conservatorship of Hopkins, 2005 WL 1514441 at *11.† Appellant did not seek review of our prior decision.† The district courtís decision to apply collateral estoppel will be reversed only upon a demonstrated abuse of discretion.†† Saudi Am. Bank v. Azhari, 460 N.W.2d 90, 92 (Minn. App. 1990).†

††††††††††† The application of collateral estoppel is appropriate where (1) the issue was identical to one in a prior adjudication; (2) there was a final judgment; (3) the estopped party was a party or in privity with a party to the prior adjudication; and (4) the estopped party was given full and fair opportunity to be heard on the adjudicated case.† Ellis v. Mpls. Commín on Civil Rights, 319 N.W.2d 702, 704 (Minn. 1982).† †

††††††††††† The record supports the district courtís finding.† An examination of the opinion from the prior appeal suggests the same due process issues were raised that appellant presents here.† The parties in the prior appeal were the same, they were in privity through the conservatorship, and appellantís motions and appeal were considered by the relevant courts.† Appellantís counsel concedes that the issues related to the homeís sale have already been litigated.† On this record, the district court did not abuse discretion by applying collateral estoppel.

††††††††††† Affirmed.

 



* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, ß 10.

 

[1] Appellant also states she was deprived of due process because she was not given notice about the sale of her home.† This argument is not developed in the brief and, therefore, is waived.† State, Depít of Labor & Indus. v. Wintz Parcel Drivers, Inc., 558 N.W.2d 480, 480 (Minn. 1997).†