Jane Doe, Appellant, vs. Jeffrey Anderson, et al., Respondents, and Craig J. Tabery, Appellant, vs. Frank L. King, Respondent.
This opinion will be unpublished and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
James E. Scott,
Foreign Affairs of Duluth, Inc.,
Foreign Affairs of Duluth, Inc.,
James E. Scott,
Filed August 22, 2000
St. Louis County District Court
File No. S298601678
Peter J. Nickitas, Nickitas Law Office, 1507 Tower Avenue, Suite 301, Superior, WI 54880-2562 (for appellant)
John H. Bray, Clure, Eaton, Butler, P.A., 222 West Superior Street, Suite 200, Duluth, MN 55802 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Anderson, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Amundson, Judge.U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
This case, arising out of an ordinary dispute over an automobile repair bill, has taken on a life of its own encompassing three court files and two appeals. Appellant James Scott challenges the district court's denial of his motion to vacate a conciliation court judgment in favor of respondent Foreign Affairs of Duluth, Inc. Scott also challenges the actions of the district court and court administrator on constitutional and jurisdictional theories. We conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Scott's motion to vacate. We also decline to review the merits of the constitutional and jurisdictional claims because Scott has inadequately briefed the issues and because he has not established prejudice. Accordingly, we affirm the district court.FACTS
Foreign Affairs performed repair work on Scott's automobile from November 19, 1996, through August 20, 1997. Scott, dissatisfied with the work, paid approximately one-third of the amount billed by Foreign Affairs. Consequently, on June 18, 1998, Foreign Affairs filed a conciliation court action seeking recovery for the unpaid bills. On September 8, 1998, the conciliation court ruled in favor of Foreign Affairs.
Entry of judgment in the conciliation court action was stayed until October 2, 1998, to allow Scott time to appeal the decision to district court for a trial de novo. On October 12, 1998, the court entered judgment. Two days later, Scott wrote a letter to the conciliation court judge, requesting that the judgment be vacated because he had not received notice of the court's decision prior to the entry of judgment. The conciliation court denied the motion.
On October 30, 1998, Scott filed a conciliation court action against Foreign Affairs. Because the case was the same as the previously litigated conciliation court action, the St. Louis County Court Administrator notified Scott that the hearing on the case had been cancelled. In response, Scott filed a demand for limited removal to district court for a hearing on whether the conciliation court judgment should be vacated allowing Scott to proceed with the second conciliation court action. On November 30, 1998, the district court held a hearing on Scott's motion. On December 10, 1998, the district court denied Scott's request to vacate the judgment.
In 1999, Scott filed a complaint in district court against Foreign Affairs. Scott's complaint involved the same repair work that was litigated in the original conciliation court action. Foreign Affairs filed a motion for summary judgment that was granted by the district court.
Scott appealed the summary judgment and the denial of his motion to vacate. This court affirmed the district court's rulings by unpublished decision in Scott v. Foreign Affairs of Duluth, Inc., No. CX-99-1752 (Minn. App. Apr. 11, 2000). On November 29, 1999, while his appeal was pending, Scott again filed a motion to vacate the original conciliation court judgment on the grounds that Foreign Affairs had misrepresented the repairs it had made. On January 3, 2000, the district court denied Scott's motion, finding that his claims were untimely and without merit.D E C I S I O N
Scott moved to vacate the conciliation court judgment pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. P. 60.02, clauses (b), (c), and (f). The district court ruled that the motion was untimely under clauses (b) and (c), and that the argument for relief under clause (f) was without merit. Whether to grant a motion to vacate rests within the discretion of the district court and will not be reversed absent an abuse of that discretion. Safeco Ins. Co. v. Dain Bosworth, Inc., 531 N.W.2d 867, 873 (Minn. App. 1995), review denied (Minn. July 20, 1995).
In relevant part, rule 60.02 provides:
On motion and upon such terms as are just, the court may relieve a party or the party's legal representatives from a final judgment (other than a marriage dissolution decree), order, or proceeding and may order a new trial or grant such other relief as may be just for the following reasons:
* * * *
(b) Newly discovered evidence which by due diligence could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial pursuant to rule 59.03;
(c) Fraud * * * misrepresentation, or other misconduct of adverse party;
* * * *
(f) Any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment.
The motion shall be made within a reasonable time, and for reasons (a), (b), and (c) not more than 1 year after the judgment, order, or proceeding was entered or taken.
(Emphasis added.) The conciliation court judgment in this case was entered on October 12, 1998. Scott filed his motion to vacate the judgment on November 29, 1999. Because the motion was filed more than one year after entry of judgment, it was untimely under the grounds stated in clauses (b) and (c). Cf. Chapman v. Special Sch. Dist. No. 1, 454 N.W.2d 921, 923 (Minn. 1990) (motion based on clause (a) of rule 60.02 is untimely if not made within one year of judgment).
The district court also rejected Scott's claim under rule 60.02(f), which does not set a specific time limitation for bringing a motion to vacate. Clause (f) of rule 60.02 is a residual clause for reasons justifying relief other than the reasons specified. If a party's reason for vacating a judgment falls under a specified ground, he may not avoid the one-year time limit by asserting that the residual clause is applicable. Chapman, 454 N.W.2d at 924 ("Clause (f) has been designated a residual clause, designed only to afford relief in those circumstances exclusive of the specific areas addressed by clauses (a) through (e)."). In the present case, Scott's reason for vacating the judgment fell under the fraud clause and, accordingly, Scott may not escape the consequence of his failure to file a timely motion by relying on clause (f).
Scott argues that he was denied his rights to due process and equal protection as a result of "invidious inequity," ex parte contacts, and decisions made without hearings. Scott's argument, however, lacks any citation to constitutional law or constitutional analysis. We therefore decline to consider those constitutional issues. See Ganguli v. University of Minn. 512 N.W.2d 918, 919 n.1 (Minn. App. 1994) (declining to consider appellant's due process arguments because he did not "support those allegations with constitutional analysis or citation").
Scott argues that the court administrator did not have subject matter jurisdiction to cancel his conciliation court hearing. But because Scott was provided a hearing to determine whether he would be able to assert a claim against Foreign Affairs just 26 days after the cancellation of his original hearing, he cannot establish that he was prejudiced by the actions of the county court administrator. See Bloom v. Hydrotherm, Inc., 499 N.W.2d 842, 845 (Minn. App. 1993), (to prevail on appeal, appellant must show not only error but prejudice as well) review denied (Minn. June 28, 1993).