This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Larry Kramer, et
Filed January 19, 1999
Redwood County District Court
File No. C5-97-209
John H. Schnobrich, Estabo, Schnobrich, Frank & Sole, Ltd., 315 Washington
St. S., Redwood Falls, MN 56283 (for respondent)
John E. Mack, Ralph Daby, Mack & Daby, 26 Main St., P.O. Box 302, New
London, MN 56273 (for appellants)
Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellants Larry and Kerry Kramer challenge the trial court's
valuation of a John Deere 4440 tractor owned by respondent Dale Kramer and sold
on his behalf by appellants. Appellants also claim that the evidence was
insufficient to hold Kerry Kramer and appellant K-Lynn Farms, a farming
corporation in which Kerry Kramer has an interest, liable in this action for
breach of contract. Because the evidence supports the trial court's valuation
and because appellants admitted in their answer that they received the tractor,
D E C I S I O N
Upon our review of the record, we conclude that the evidence supports
the trial court's valuation of the John Deere 4440 tractor at $27,000. Dale
Kramer allowed appellants to trade in the tractor and apply its value toward
the purchase of a new John Deere 8100 tractor. The evidence on valuation
presented at trial established: (1) the "blue book" value of the tractor was
$27,000; (2) the tractor was sold by the implement dealer for $30,000 one week
after it was traded in; (3) the implement dealer told Dale Kramer that he
valued the trade-in at $29,000; and (4) the $27,000 value approximately
represents the difference between the $80,360 list price of the John Deere 8100
tractor and the $51,950 "out-of-pocket" amount that Larry and Kerry Kramer paid
for it. Thus, there is substantial evidence to support the valuation figure
arrived at by the trial court. See Hertz v. Hertz, 304 Minn.
144, 145, 229 N.W.2d 42, 44 (1975) (appellate court will not overturn trial
court's valuation of asset unless clearly erroneous, and trial court's market
valuation will be sustained if it falls within limits of credible estimates
made by competent witnesses); Snesrud v. Instant Web, Inc., 484
N.W.2d 423, 428 (Minn. App. 1992) (factual findings reversed only if appellate
court is of "definite and firm conviction * * * mistake has been made"; on
appeal, evidence must sustain findings and findings must support conclusions
made by trial court), review denied (Minn. June 17, 1992).
While the record evidence does not firmly establish the features of
the business relationships between appellants Larry and Kerry Kramer and K-Lynn
Farms, their joint admissions as "Defendants" in their answer provide
sufficient evidence of their involvement in this action. They admit that Dale
Kramer "allowed the Defendants to use the tractor as a trade-in on the purchase
of certain equipment that the Defendants were intending to buy" and that they
"did obtain $17,000" as a trade-in allowance for the John Deere 4440 tractor.
Having admitted these facts in their answer, appellants may not now argue that
Dale Kramer failed to prove these facts or subsidiary matters, such as whether
Larry and Kerry Kramer had a partnership agreement or the extent of K-Lynn
Farms' involvement in the sale. See Phelps v. Benson, 252 Minn.
457, 476, 90 N.W.2d 533, 546 (1958) (when essential facts admitted by
pleadings, they are no longer at issue unless litigant apprises court and
adversary that he wishes to abandon position); Wilson Storage &
Transfer Co. v. Geurkink, 242 Minn. 60, 65, 64 N.W.2d 9, 14 (1954)
(factual matters alleged in pleadings constitute admissions of party at trial).
Appellants' admissions thus establish their liability in this action.
[*] Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.