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Blume Law Firm, PC v. Pierce

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

December 4, 2007, Filed

A06-2311

Opinion

 [*923]  LANSING, Judge

The district court denied Raymond and Linda Pierce's motion to vacate an Arizona judgment docketed in Minnesota under the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act. We conclude that the district court properly rejected the Pierces' jurisdictional argument. But because the record indicates that the Arizona judgment may have been obtained through fraud, we reverse and remand.

 [*924]  FACTS

Raymond and Linda Pierce are Minnesota residents who occasionally visit their son who resides in Arizona.  [**2] During one of their visits, Raymond Pierce purchased a motorcycle. The motorcycle's title lists Raymond Pierce with an Arizona address.

In 2004 the Pierces' son obtained legal services from the Blume Law Firm. The son pledged the motorcycle as security for the firm's legal fees. The Pierces apparently had no contact with the law firm or connection to the security agreement until after the Blume Law Firm sued.

In June 2005 the Blume Law Firm sued the son and the Pierces in Arizona superior court for unpaid legal fees. The complaint raised four counts. The first three counts relate to legal fees owed to the law firm. The fourth count involves the title to the motorcycle. The Pierces submitted an answer in which they denied that the Arizona court had jurisdiction over them. The Blume Law Firm then brought a summary-judgment motion and submitted an affidavit claiming that both the son and Raymond Pierce had agreed to be responsible for the attorneys' fees and had signed a promissory note and security agreement. The Pierces failed to respond to the summary-judgment motion.

The Arizona court granted the law firm's motion and awarded the law firm $ 28,000 in damages and $ 1,500 in legal fees.  [**3] The district court order provided that the law firm could apply for transfer of title to the motorcycle. The Pierces did not appeal.

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741 N.W.2d 921 *; 2007 Minn. App. LEXIS 153 **

Blume Law Firm PC, an Arizona professional corporation, Respondent, vs. Jason E. Pierce, et al., Defendants, Raymond R. Pierce, et al., Appellants.

Subsequent History: Review denied by Blume Law Firm PC v. Pierce, 2008 Minn. LEXIS 74 (Minn., Feb. 19, 2008)

Prior History:  [**1] Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CV-05-18631. Hon. Marilyn Brown Rosenbaum.

Disposition: Reversed and remanded.

CORE TERMS

law firm, personal jurisdiction, district court, vacate, promissory note, motorcycle, waived, full faith and credit, foreign judgment, attorney's fees, security agreement

Business & Corporate Compliance, Judgments, Enforcement & Execution, Foreign Judgments, Civil Procedure, Preclusion of Judgments, Full Faith & Credit, Enforcement of Judgments, Relief From Judgments, Vacation of Judgments, General Overview, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Questions of Fact & Law, In Rem & Personal Jurisdiction, In Personam Actions, Challenges, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction Over Actions, Responses, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Waiver & Preservation of Defenses, Federal & State Interrelationships, Choice of Law, Minimum Contacts, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Preservation for Review, Fraud, Misconduct & Misrepresentation