may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
John E. Miles, III,
Law Offices of James H. Cohen, P.C.,
a New Mexico professional corporation, et al.,
James H. Cohen,
Filed July 6, 1999
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 97447
J. Poage Anderson, Nichols Kaster & Anderson, 4644 IDS Center, 80 South Eighth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent)
Christopher M. Daniels, Katherine E. Rom, Caldecott, Wheeler & Searles, P.L.C., 10 South Fifth Street, Suite 900, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)
Julia A. Christians, Lapp Laurie Libra Abramson & Thomson, 120 South Sixth Street, Suite 2500, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (trustee for defendants)
Considered and decided by Crippen, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, Kalitowski, Judge.
Respondent John L. Miles prevailed in a lawsuit for job-related discrimination against the law offices of James H. Cohen, P.C., located in New Mexico, and the law offices of James H. Cohen, P.A., located in Minnesota. Following entry of the judgment, the district court granted respondent's motion under Minn. R. Civ. P. 60.02(c) to modify the judgment for fraud to remove the law office from liability and instead add appellant James H. Cohen as an individual judgment debtor. Cohen appeals and we affirm.
A district court's decision on a motion to vacate for fraud under Minn. R. Civ. P. 60.02(c) will not be reversed unless the court abused its discretion. In re J.L.B. v. T.E.B., 474 N.W.2d 599, 602 (Minn. App. 1991), review denied (Minn. Oct. 11, 1991). The decision as to whether such fraud exists is within the district court's "discretion as fact finder and evaluator of weight and credibility of evidence." Id. at 603.
A district court has inherent power to vacate or modify a judgment for fraud. Halloran v. Blue & White Liberty Cab Co., 253 Minn. 436, 442, 92 N.W.2d 794, 798 (1958). Such fraud exists when "a party intentionally misleads or deceives the court as to the identity of a litigant * * * ." Id. at 443, 92 N.W.2d at 798. Here, the district court found that appellant engaged in "fraudulent and unfair" conduct by misrepresenting his corporate status and asserting his Minnesota law office was properly registered, when it was not. Consequently, the court determined that appellant individually, rather than the Minnesota law office, was the appropriate judgment debtor.
Appellant raises numerous challenges to the district court's findings of fact, and objects to the district court's adoption of respondent's proposed findings. See Bliss v. Bliss, 493 N.W.2d 583, 590 (Minn. App. 1992) (cautioning that verbatim adoption could raise questions of whether court independently evaluated record), review denied (Minn. Feb. 12, 1993). But all of the relevant findings, including the determination of fraud, are supported by the record and are within the district court's discretion. Likewise, the district court's legal analysis is supported by caselaw. See Halloran, 253 Minn. at 442, 92 N.W.2d at 798 (finding the court may vacate for fraud if it has been misled as to material circumstances or its process has been abused, resulting in an unfair judgment); In re Conservatorship of Bromley, 359 N.W.2d 723, 724 (Minn. App. 1984) (holding rule 60.02 may be triggered when "a party intentionally misleads or deceives the court as to material circumstances"), review denied (Minn. Mar. 21, 1985).
Finally, we reject appellant's argument that the district court abused its discretion when it failed to award him sanctions under Minn. R. Civ. P. 11. See Uselman v. Uselman, 464 N.W.2d 130, 145 (Minn. 1990) (applying abuse of discretion standard in reviewing decisions pursuant to rule 11).