This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




William Jordan, petitioner,


Gloria Jordan, Lower Court Petitioner,


Crystal Peterson,


Filed March 18, 1997


Amundson, Judge

Cook County District Court

File No. 16-C4-96-130

Sally L. Tarnowski, Johnson, Killen, Thibodeau & Seiler, P.A., 811 Norwest Center, Duluth, MN 55802 (for Respondent)

Patrick M. Spott, 1301 Miller Trunk Highway, #400, Duluth, MN 55811 (for Appellant)

Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Harten, Judge.



Appellant Crystal Peterson challenges the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of respondent William Jordan in Jordan's unlawful detainer action. Peterson argues that summary judgment was improper because: (1) an appeal of the Jordan's unsuccessful first unlawful detainer was pending when the district court granted the order; (2) the second unlawful detainer action was collaterally estopped by the first unlawful detainer action; and (3) the district court improperly found that the contract for deed had been cancelled. We affirm.


In 1990, respondent William Jordan and his wife Gloria Jordan sold a piece of property to appellant Crystal Peterson (then Crystal Lindskog) and her then-husband Rory Lindskog through a contract for deed. The purchase price was $27,000. Crystal and Rory divorced, and Rory transferred his interest in the property to Peterson in a quitclaim deed. In February 1996, after a lapse in payments, Jordan served Peterson with notice of cancellation of the contract for deed. The notice gave a 60-day notice period. Days after the notice period ended, Peterson orally offered to pay some of the funds owed. Jordan refused; evidently, Peterson had had several lapses of payments in the past.

On April 2, 1996, Peterson signed a purchase agreement for the property with third parties for $72,000.[1] Jordan brought an unlawful detainer action against Peterson. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Peterson.

Jordan brought a second unlawful detainer action against Peterson. It raised essentially the same issues as the first. However, it had corrected a flaw present in the first action. Meanwhile, Jordan filed an appeal with this court, challenging the decision in the first unlawful detainer action. In the second unlawful detainer action, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of Jordan. Jordan dismissed his appeal of the first action. Peterson now challenges the second unlawful detainer action.


In an appeal from summary judgment, this court asks two questions: (1) whether there are any genuine issues of material fact, and (2) whether the lower court erred in its application of the law. See State by Cooper v. French, 460 N.W.2d 2, 4 (Minn. 1990).

I. Jurisdiction During Appeal of First Action

Peterson argues that after Jordan had filed his appeal of the first unlawful detainer action, the district court had no jurisdiction over his second unlawful detainer action. This would be true if the two unlawful detainer actions were the same. They are, however, different, separate actions with different file numbers. The appeal of the first action has no effect on the ability of the district court to decide the second.

II. Collateral Estoppel

Collateral estoppel (issue preclusion) bars the litigation of an issue that has been adjudicated. The elements of collateral estoppel are: (1) the issue was identical to one in a prior adjudication; (2) there was a final judgment on the merits; (3) the estopped party was a party or in privity with a party to the prior adjudication; and (4) the estopped party was given a full and fair opportunity to be heard on the adjudicated issue. Ellis v. Minneapolis Comm'n on Civil Rights, 319 N.W.2d 702, 704 (Minn. 1982).

Collateral estoppel does not apply in this case. Both actions admittedly involve the same basic fact situation. However, in the first action, Jordan had mistakenly identified the action as an action brought under a rental agreement. In the second action, Jordan had corrected the error. Unlawful detainer actions have a limited collateral effect. See Provident Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Tachtronic Instruments, Inc., 394 N.W.2d 161, 166 (Minn. App. 1986). Bringing a revised unlawful detainer action when an earlier one has failed is very common. Thus, we conclude that the second action was not collaterally estopped by the first.

III. Cancellation of Deed

Peterson argues that the district court erred in finding that the Jordans had successfully cancelled their contract for deed. Peterson contends that the cancellation was not successful because: (1) Jordan failed to serve Rory Lindskog with notice; (2) Jordan failed to use 12-point type in typing "60"; and (3) equitable concerns make the cancellation a manifest injustice.


Peterson argues that Jordan's failure to give Lindskog, an original purchaser of the property, notice of the cancellation of the contract for deed renders it void because: (1) there is a fact question as to whether the quitclaim deed was valid; (2) Lindskog still has an obligation under the contract for deed and therefore he must be notified; and (3) Lindskog has an interest in seeing to it that his ex-wife's interest in the property is protected.

Minnesota law provides that

the seller may terminate the contract by serving upon the purchaser or the purchaser's personal representatives or assigns * * * a notice specifying the conditions in which default has been made.

Minn. Stat. § 559.21, subd. 2a (1994). Lindskog assigned his interest in the property to Peterson, and thus Jordan satisfied the statutory requirements by giving notice to Peterson.

Type Size

Peterson has repeatedly argued that Jordan's failure to use 12-point type for the number "60" in the redemption period renders it invalid. The statute does require the use of 12-point or larger type in a notice of cancellation of contract. Minn. Stat. § 559.21, subd. 3 (1994). However, this court has held that some trivial discrepancies in the notice will not render it defective. See Hoffman v. Halter, 417 N.W.2d 747, 750-51 (Minn. App. 1988) (failure to list the delinquent real estate taxes and the required payment of 2% of the amount in default in large capital letters), review denied (Minn. March 18, 1988). The notice, including the number "60," is clearly legible. Jordan's use of a non-conforming type size on the number "60" is not fatal to the notice.

Equitable Concerns

Peterson argues that the cancellation of the contract for deed constitutes a manifest injustice. She asserts that additional time would allow her to sell the property and then remit Jordan the entire purchase price.

Peterson's argument regarding the property's value and Jordan's possible unjust enrichment is misplaced here. This is an appeal of an unlawful detainer action, which involves right to possession, not the right to title.

Peterson cites a case in which this court affirmed the lower court's jury finding awarding unjust enrichment damages to a party against whom a cancellation of contract for deed was brought. See Anderson v. DeLisle, 352 N.W.2d 794 (Minn. App. 1984), review denied (Minn. Nov. 8, 1984). Anderson, however, revolved around very different facts. That case involved a cancellation of a contract for deed, not an unlawful detainer, because Anderson never took possession of the property. See id. at 795. In the contract for deed, the value of improvements made to the property by Anderson was specifically intended to offset a possible default in payment. Id. Anderson had made significant improvements and the jury found that the value of these improvements was $47,000 more than the amount suffered because of Anderson's default. Id.

Although Peterson was planning to sell the property for $72,000 (after having bought it at the purchase price of $27,000), she makes no explanations for the increase in value. There is no evidence in the record of improvements made by her or her ex-husband.

Peterson's assertion that the district court improperly found that the deed was cancelled does not have merit. There are no genuine issues of material fact and the district court did not err in its application of the law.


[ ]1 There is no explanation for the appreciation in value from $27,000 in 1990 to $72,000 in 1996.