This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).




Ronald VanLerberghe, et al.,



Joint Judicial Ditch #10 Drainage Authority,


In re: Improvement of Lyon County Ditch #7,

Joint Judicial Ditch #10 Drainage Authority

and Ruth Stensrud,

(Lower Court Appellants).

Filed January 12, 1999

Affirmed; motion granted

Shumaker, Judge

Lyon County District Court

File No. CX-97-348

Arvid L. Wendland, David R. Wendorf, Wendland, Beattie, Timmerman, 825 East Second Street, P.O. Box 247, Blue Earth, MN 56013 (for appellants)

James H. Malecik, Steven J. Vatndal, Gislason, Dosland, Hunter & Malecki, 75 Teton Lane, P.O. Box 4157, Mankato, MN 56002-4157 (for respondents)

Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and Holtan, Judge.[*]



Appellants Ronald VanLerberghe, et al., and Lyon County Ditch No. 7 Drainage Authority challenge the trial court's denial of their motions to dissolve a temporary injunction and dismiss respondent Joint Judicial Ditch No. 10 Drainage Authority's counterclaim on the ground that respondent has no standing to sue. Appellants also contend that the trial court erred in failing to make factual findings supporting its order allowing respondent to alter a drainage outlet without posting a bond and denying appellants' motion to dissolve the injunction. We affirm.


Lyon County Ditch No. 7 and Joint Judicial Ditch No. 10 are connected by a culvert. The Lyon County Drainage Authority ordered an improvement of Ditch No. 7. Ditch No. 10 Drainage Authority contended that no improvement could be made to Ditch No. 7 without its consent. The Lyon County Drainage Authority disagreed and brought a declaratory judgment action to resolve the controversy. Ditch No. 10 counterclaimed for injunctive relief.

The trial court granted a temporary injunction, authorized Ditch No. 10 to place a partial cap on the Ditch No. 7 outlet, and required that Ditch No. 10 provide a $500,000 bond for any damages caused by the capping of the outlet.

Ditch No. 7 then moved to dissolve the temporary injunction and dismiss the counterclaim, arguing that Ditch No. 10 had no standing to sue. Ditch No. 7 also requested a postponement of the trial date. In its order of April 20, 1998, the trial court granted Ditch No. 7's postponement request but denied its other motions. The trial court also authorized Ditch No. 10 to reduce the diameter at the end of the connecting culvert and vacated the requirement that Ditch No. 10 provide security for the alteration. This appeal followed.


Capacity to Sue

Appellants correctly contend that the drainage statutes do not expressly confer upon a drainage authority the capacity to sue or to be sued. See Minn. Stat. §§ 103E.005 -.881 (1996). However, Minn. Stat. § 103E.011, subd. 1, provides in part that "[t]he drainage authority may make orders to: (1) construct and maintain drainage systems * * *"; and Minn. Stat. § 103E.705, subd. 1, requires that, once a drainage system has been completed, "the drainage authority shall maintain the drainage system that is located in its jurisdiction * * *." A "drainage authority" includes a joint county drainage authority having jurisdiction over a drainage system. Minn. Stat. § 103E.005, subd. 9.

Proceeding from the presumption that, in enacting legislation, the "legislature does not intend a result that is absurd, impossible of execution, or unreasonable * * *," we infer that the statutory power to make orders for the construction and maintenance of drainage systems necessarily carries with it standing to seek judicial protection, enforcement and vindication of such orders. Minn. Stat. § 645.17(1) (1996).

We have also previously held that a county board acting as a drainage authority had standing to maintain a declaratory judgment action. McLeod County Bd. of Comm'rs as Drainage Auth. for McLeod County Ditch No. 8 v. State, Dep't of Natural Resources, 549 N.W.2d 630, 633 (Minn. App. 1996), review denied (Minn. Aug. 20, 1996). Applying the statutory definition of "drainage authority" in Minn. Stat. § 103E.005, subd. 9, we held:

Thus, we agree with the district court that the statute confers standing on the county to assert the right of the landowners to have the ditch maintained.


Appellants' reliance on Petition of Abel, 253 Minn. 452, 92 N.W.2d 800 (Minn. 1958), to demonstrate that a drainage district lacks standing to sue is misplaced. The supreme court held in that case that, since the county acted solely as a tribunal and was neither a petitioner nor an appellant in the district court, the county could not be an aggrieved party. Abel does not address the standing issue raised in this case involving a drainage authority that actively participates as a formal party to a lawsuit. See, generally, Chapman v. Dorsey, 230 Minn. 279, 288, 41 N.W.2d 438, 443 (1950) (prior cases are not authority on the issue of appealability if that issue was not presented to the court).

Findings of Fact

Appellants challenge the trial court's lack of findings of fact to support its order denying appellants' motion to dissolve the temporary injunction. The trial court issued the temporary injunction in its order of December 1, 1997. The court's accompanying memorandum sets forth its factual and legal analysis of the requirements for injunctive relief. Appellants have not appealed from that order. Rather, they have challenged only the order declining to dissolve the injunction. We are aware of no authority, and appellants have cited none, that requires findings of fact to support a denial of a motion to dissolve a temporary injunction. Presumably, if one or more of the factual or legal bases for the issuance of the injunction ceases to exist, the injunction would be dissolved. Appellants have made no such showing, however.

Appellants next contend that the trial court failed to make findings as to the permitted capping of the outlet and as to the vacation of the bond requirement.

The initial capping permission was contained in the order of December 1, 1997. Appellants have not appealed from that order and thus we do not review the propriety of permitting capping. In the order under review, the trial court permitted capping that would reduce the diameter at the end of the culvert from 48 inches to 30 inches. In the order of December 1, 1997, the permitted reduction was from 48 inches to 22 inches.

The court stated its findings as to the capping alteration and the bond vacation orally on the record. Such oral statements are adequate findings for purposes of appellate review. See Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01 (it is sufficient if findings of fact and conclusions of law are stated orally and recorded following the close of evidence).

The capping alteration and the bond vacation arose in the context of appellants' motion to postpone the trial. The court granted the motion and stated that the original capping and bond requirements were premised on the arrival of an early winter, uncertainty as to the spring weather, and the possibility of a substantial amount of drainage that would affect properties and people downstream of Ditch No. 7. None of the concerns or uncertainties materialized. The court reasoned, therefore, that the bond to protect against damage from excessive spring water was not necessary and that the cap could be widened. A trial court's findings of fact and conclusions of law will be upheld on appeal unless clearly erroneous. See Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01. We find no clear error in the trial court's findings or conclusions.

Finally, appellants contend that Ditch 10 Drainage Authority was unlawfully constituted. The trial court reserved its ruling on that issue. Therefore, that issue is not properly before us for review. See Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 582 (Minn. 1988) (appellate court generally will not review matters not considered by trial court). Additionally, appellants move to strike the appendix to respondent's brief, the section labeled "Facts" and the references to those facts in respondent's brief, all relating to the reserved issue regarding the legality of the Ditch 10 Drainage Authority. The motion is granted.

Affirmed; motion granted.

[*] Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.