Articles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court

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In May 2016 Walsh County, North Dakota notified Jann Thompson she failed to pay her 2013 property taxes. The notice stated the County would foreclose on the property unless Thompson paid the taxes by October 1, 2016. Thompson previously attempted to pay the taxes with promissory notes and other instruments; however, they were not accepted by the County. On October 6, 2016, the County recorded a tax deed for the property due to Thompson's failure to pay the 2013 taxes. The County informed Thompson she had the right to repurchase the property before the tax sale by paying all outstanding taxes and costs against the property. On November 2, 2016, Thompson paid the 2013, 2014 and 2015 taxes and redeemed the property. Before paying the outstanding property taxes, Daniel and Jann Thompson sued Defendants the County auditor, the State Attorney, and the County Board of Commissioners, claiming the State had no authority to tax their property, and county officials improperly refused payment by not accepting the Thompsons' promissory notes. The Thompsons also alleged fraud, inverse condemnation and slander of title. The Thompsons subsequently filed a number of other documents and motions relating to their complaint. Defendants denied the Thompsons' allegations, and requested dismissal of the complaint and denial of the additional civil filings and motions. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, dismissing the claims. Finding the trial court did not err by dismissing the Thompsons’ claims, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Thompson v. Molde" on Justia Law

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In August 2016, the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Revenue issued an order assessing personal liability against David Knapp, a North Dakota resident, for $65,843.80 in unpaid Minnesota sales and use taxes relating to his interest in a business in Bemidji, Minnesota. In December 2016, the Commissioner issued a third-party levy on securities held by broker Edward Jones for Knapp by sending a notice to Edward Jones at its Missouri office. The third-party levy said Edward Jones had to sell Knapp's securities under Minn. Stat. Ann. 270C.7101(7) and send the Minnesota Department of Revenue payment up to the amount due. The levy instructed Edward Jones not to send money that was exempt or protected from the levy and cautioned that state law allowed the Commissioner to assess debt to businesses, officers, or other individuals responsible for honoring the levy, including assessing the total amount due plus a twenty-five percent penalty. Knapp petitioned the district court to dissolve the levy and for a writ of prohibition against the Commissioner and Edward Jones to prohibit them from taking any further action to levy on his account. Knapp alleged that the Commissioner had no jurisdiction in North Dakota to levy on his North Dakota property and that his property was exempt from the levy. The district court issued a preliminary writ of prohibition to stay the levy pending the filing of an answer showing cause under N.D.C.C. 32-34-05, but later concluded Knapp failed to establish he was entitled to relief. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Knapp's petition for a writ of prohibition, and affirmed the judgment and the order. View "Knapp v. Commissioner of Minnesota Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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S&B Dickinson Apartments I, LLC, and Dickinson Properties, LLC, appealed a judgment affirming the Stark County North Dakota Board of Commissioners' denial of their requests for an abatement of property taxes for the year 2016. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not have jurisdiction and the appeals should have been dismissed because the statutory requirements for perfecting an appeal were not followed. The Court therefore reversed and remanded for entry of judgment dismissing the appeals. View "S&B Dickinson Apartments I, LLC v. Stark County Board of Commissioners" on Justia Law

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Plains Marketing, LP and Van Hook Crude Terminal, LLC, appealed an order affirming a Mountrail County Board of County Commissioners' decision to deny their application for an abatement of 2013 real estate taxes for three parcels of land in Mountrail County. They argued the North Dakota Supreme Court should reverse the County Board's denial of their application for an abatement because the County Board incorrectly applied the omitted property provisions in N.D.C.C. ch. 57-14. After review of the Commissioners' decision, the Supreme Court agreed and reversed the order. View "Plains Marketing, LP v. Mountrail Cty. Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs" on Justia Law

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Blume Construction, Inc. appealed a district court judgment affirming a Job Service North Dakota decision, finding Blume did not file a valid appeal and the agency's determination assigning Blume a final penalty tax rate. Blume received a notice of determination from Job Service informing Blume that it would be assigned a penalty tax rate for unemployment insurance. The notice stated the agency conducted an audit and concluded there was a transfer of ownership and payroll between Blume and another company that was knowingly done to obtain a lower tax rate for unemployment insurance. The notice informed Blume it would be assigned the highest tax rate assignable for the next three years. The notice advised Blume the determination would become final unless a written appeal was made to Job Service within fifteen days. Job Service received an electronic appeal request for Blume signed by Craig Fidler. Fidler was identified as a licensed attorney from Colorado. Fidler was not licensed to practice law in North Dakota. In approximately May 2014, Fidler notified the referee he was unable to secure a sponsoring attorney licensed in North Dakota. During that same time period, the referee was informed a North Dakota attorney would be representing Blume. Blume argued the referee erred in finding Blume's attorney engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and the appealed request the attorney filed was void. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Blume Construction, Inc. v. North Dakota" on Justia Law

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North Dakota Initiated Constitutional Measure 2, which would have abolished property taxes, was disapproved by the voters in the June 2012 primary election. Empower the Taxpayer ("Empower"), Charlene Nelson, and Robert Hale supported Measure 2. Before the election, Empower, Nelson, and Hale brought this action against numerous state and local government officials and other entities alleging violations of the Corrupt Practices Act, and sought injunctive relief, including prohibiting the defendants from "advocating any position on Measure 2" and declaring the defendants "no longer eligible to run for public office." The County Defendants sought sanctions against the plaintiffs and their attorney under N.D.R.Civ.P. 11, alleging the action against them was frivolous and that it had been brought for an improper purpose. The action was ultimately dismissed by the district court, and the Supreme Court affirmed on appeal. After the action was dismissed, the district court considered the County Defendants' motion for sanctions, concluding a competent attorney could not in good faith have believed that a cause of action existed against the County Defendants. The court therefore ordered reasonable attorney fees and costs for defending against the action and that the plaintiffs prepare a written retraction of their allegations of corruption and impropriety to be published in the major newspapers of the state. Upon review of the sanctions issue, the Supreme Court concluded the district court's orders did not provide an adequate explanation of the evidentiary and legal basis for its decision; the Court was unable to adequately understand the basis for the court's decision to review on appeal. Therefore, the case was reversed and remanded to the district court to clarify its opinion. View "Empower the Taxpayer v. Fong" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Sharon Wheeler appealed a judgment requiring her to pay assessments to Defendant Southport Seven Planned Unit Development ("Southport"). Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err finding Southport had authority to impose assessments against Wheeler as a property owner in Southport, the court did not err finding the amount Wheeler owed Southport and the court did not err in ordering Wheeler to pay Southport costs. View "Wheeler v. Southport Seven Planned Unit Dev." on Justia Law

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D&P Terminal, Inc., and Potter Enterprises appealed a district court judgment that affirmed the decision of the Board of City Commissioners of Fargo in approving special assessments against their property. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed, concluding the Fargo Special Assessment Commission did not use an inappropriate method to calculate the benefits to property included in the improvement district. View "D&P Terminal v. City of Fargo" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Erling "Curly" Haugland appealed and Defendant-Appellee City of Bismarck cross-appealed a grant of summary judgment that declared North Dakota's Urban Renewal Law constitutional, and Bismarck's implementation of an urban renewal plan and use of tax increment financing to fund urban renewal projects in its urban renewal area compliant with the Act. Plaintiff claimed the Act violates the gift clause provisions of N.D. Const. art. X, section 18, the requirements for imposing taxes in N.D. Const. art. X, sections 3 and 5, and the equal protection provisions of the state and federal constitutions. He also claimed Bismarck's implementation of a perpetual urban renewal plan violated the Act. Upon review, the Supreme Court held the Act is constitutional, but the summary judgment record in this case did not establish whether Bismarck's renewal plan complied with the provisions of the Act. View "Haugland v. City of Bismarck" on Justia Law

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Empower the Taxpayer, Charlene Nelson, and Robert Hale (collectively "Empower") appealed an order dismissing their request for injunctive relief against numerous state and local government officials and other entities. Empower supported North Dakota Initiated Constitutional Measure 2 to abolish property taxes which is on the June 2012 primary election ballot. In February 2012, Empower brought this action seeking injunctive relief against the defendants to prohibit them from, among other things, "advocating any position on Measure 2" and to declare them "no longer eligible to run for public office." Empower alleged the officials and entities had violated provisions of the Corrupt Practices Act by distributing false and misleading information about the effect of Measure 2. The district court dismissed the action, concluding "Empower lacks standing to bring this claim as the Corrupt Practices Act is a criminal law, the Defendants' actions did not violate Empower's legal rights, and the legislature did not imply a private right of action" for violation of the Act's provisions. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed, finding Empower failed to establish that there was a private right of action to enforce provisions of the North Dakota Corrupt Practices Act. View "Empower the Taxpayer v. Fong" on Justia Law