may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1994).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In Re: Receivership of Big League Game Company,
a Minnesota Corporation,
d/b/a Arrowhead Trading Company.
Filed November 26, 1996
St. Louis County District Court
File No. C1-95-600622
Conrad M. Fredin, Conrad M. Fredin Law Office, 612 First Bank Place, Duluth, MN 55802 (for respondents Kent Henricksen, Keith Henricksen and Conrad Fredin)
Stanley R. Henricksen, 209 E. Superior St., Duluth, MN 55802 (Pro Se appellant)
Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Huspeni, Judge, and Foley, Judge.[*]
Appellant contests the district court's denial of his motion to hold respondents in contempt for failing to comply with a court order granting the owners of several showcases located on the premises of a dissolved corporation the right to take possession of their property. Appellant contends that as lessee of the showcases, he had the right to take possession of the property, but respondents prevented it. Because we find the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying appellant's motion, we affirm.
[t]he owners of personal property located at 123 W. Superior Street and 209 East Superior Street not owned by the corporation, including, but not limited to, inventory and fixtures owned by Doug Moen and Rodney Henricksen shall be entitled to access to the premises, upon reasonable notice, to take possession of their property.
Appellant offered a document purporting to be a lease for several of the showcases. He argued that the lease gave him the right to possess the cases and the court's order gave him the right to reclaim the property. Appellant stated that he attempted to retrieve the property several times, but respondents Kent Henricksen, Keith Henricksen and Conrad Fredin prevented him from doing so. When appellant moved the court to find respondents in contempt, they argued they did not violate the court order and that they also had a lease for the showcases.
The district court denied appellant's motion because the prior order was only directed to the "owners" of the disputed property, not a lessee. The trial court noted that appellant "is, at best, a lessee, and may be nothing more than a permissive user." Further, the court recognized that competing leases appear to exist for the property and that other litigation, rather than contempt proceedings, would be the appropriate method for resolving the dispute. Appellant challenges the district court's decision.
On appeal from a contempt order, the reviewing court may determine the reasonableness, arbitrariness, or discriminatory character of the order and may reverse or modify if the trial court abused its discretion. Minnesota State Bar Ass'n v. Divorce Assistance Ass'n, Inc., 311 Minn. 276, 284, 248 N.W.2d 733, 740 (1976). The record indicates that appellant and respondents asserted conflicting tenancy interests in the showcases. Because appellant had an unclear interest, respondents could not be found in contempt for refusing to allow him access as an "owner." Thus, the court properly concluded that resolution of the tenancy and ownership issues required other "appropriate litigation, not contempt proceedings."
Moreover, a court order may not be enforced through contempt proceedings unless it clearly defines the acts to be performed. See Mr. Steak, Inc. v. Sandquist Steaks, Inc., 309 Minn. 408, 411, 245 N.W.2d 837, 838 (1976); Hopp v. Hopp, 279 Minn. 170, 174, 156 N.W.2d 212, 216 (1968); State by Johnson v. Sports & Health Club, Inc., 392 N.W.2d 329, 335 (Minn. App. 1986). Even if appellant had a clear lease interest in the showcases, the prior order did not directly state that a lessee would be entitled to the same rights as an owner. Because the order did not clearly direct that a lessee be permitted to take possession of the property, respondents could not be found in contempt for failing to allow appellant to take the showcases. The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying appellant's motion.
[ ]* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
[ ]1 The only items in this dispute appear to be those birch showcases owned by Rodney J. Henricksen.