This opinion will be unpublished and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
In re Conservatorship of
Ruth V. Hopkins,
Filed September 18, 2007
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 27-P8-97-1381
Jennie M. Brown,
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.
††††††††††† 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 (
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 (
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†
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.
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.† 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 (
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 (
††††††††††† 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.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, ß 10.
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,