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MN Supreme Court June Calendar

Wednesday, May 23, 2018  
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June 2018
Summaries prepared by the Supreme Court Commissioner’s Office
Click here to watch oral arguments livestreaming

Monday, June 4, 2018
Mark Jerome Johnson, Appellant vs. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case No. A17-0842, A17-0883:In 2010, appellant Mark Johnson pleaded guilty to and was convicted of first-degree test refusal. At his plea hearing, Johnson admitted that on July 30, 2009, he was arrested on suspicion of driving while impaired and that he refused to submit to a warrantless blood or urine test for the presence of alcohol. In 2015, Johnson again pleaded guilty to and was convicted of first-degree test refusal. At his plea hearing, Johnson admitted that on June 20, 2014, he was arrested on suspicion of driving while impaired and that he refused to submit to a warrantless blood or urine test for the presence of alcohol.

On December 7, 2016, Johnson filed two petitions for postconviction relief, one for his 2010 test-refusal conviction and one for his 2015 test-refusal conviction. In both, Johnson argued that Birchfield v. North Dakota, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S. Ct. 2160 (2016), State v. Thompson, 886 N.W.2d 224 (Minn. 2016), cert. denied, 137 S. Ct. 1338 (2017), and State v. Trahan, 886 N.W.2d 216 (Minn. 2016), created substantive rules with retroactive effect and that his test-refusal convictions should be vacated. The district court denied both petitions.

Johnson appealed the denial of both postconviction petitions. The court of appeals consolidated the appeals and affirmed the denial of both postconviction petitions.

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether Johnson’s convictions for test refusal must be reversed because BirchfieldThompson, and Trahan established new substantive rules prohibiting prosecution for refusing a warrantless blood or urine test, absent the existence of exigent circumstances, that apply retroactively to cases on collateral review; and (2) whether Johnson forfeited his right to challenge his test-refusal convictions based on Fourth Amendment grounds by pleading guilty to the offenses. (Ramsey County)

Nonoral: Eddie Hudson, Respondent vs. Trillium Staffing and XL Insurance, with Claims Administered by CorVel Corporation, Relators, and Medica Health Plans/Optum, et al., Intervenors – Case No. A18-0330: In June 2017, respondent Eddie Hudson filed a petition to vacate a June 2015 award on stipulation in a workers’ compensation matter, alleging “a substantial change in medical condition” under Minn. Stat. § 176.461 (2016). The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) referred the matter to the Office of Administrative Hearings for an evidentiary hearing and findings on the following issues:

(1) Whether the employee’s April 16, 2014, work injury is a substantial contributing factor to the employee’s current total inability to work?

(2) Whether and to what extent the employee’s permanent partial disability [is] causally related to the employee’s April 16, 2014, work injury?

(3) Whether the medical opinions regarding return to work and/or permanent partial disability are supported by adequate foundation?

Relators Trillium Staffing and XL Insurance appealed the WCCA’s order.

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether the WCCA erred by deciding that the employee has a “current total inability to work” and a “permanent partial disability”; (2) whether the WCCA abused its discretion by referring the matter of medical opinion foundation to the Office of Administrative Hearings; and (3) whether the WCCA failed to follow Minn. Stat. § 176.461. (Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals)

Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Depositors Insurance Company, Appellant vs. Craig Dollansky, Respondent – Case No. A17-0631Respondent Craig Dollansky rented a recreational vehicle from Karavan Trailers, Inc., under a rental agreement that provided that Dollansky would be responsible for all damage or loss to the vehicle while he rented it and that required him to carry insurance covering the vehicle. While Dollansky was renting the vehicle, it caught fire from unknown causes, leading to significant damage. Karavan submitted a claim to Dollansky’s insurer, which did not pay the claim in full. Karavan then submitted a claim to its own insurer, appellant Depositors Insurance Company. Depositors paid Karavan’s claim and then sued Dollansky on theories of breach of contract and bailment, asserting a right to recover from Dollansky as a subrogee of Karavan.

The district court granted Dollansky’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that Karavan’s suit is barred by Minnesota’s anti-subrogation rule.Specifically, the district court concluded that Dollansky was an “insured” under Karavan’s policy with Depositors based on a provision in the policy that extended coverage to permissive use drivers. Therefore, the district court ruled that Depositors’ suit against Dollansky is barred by Minn. Stat. § 60A.41(a) (2016), which provides that “[a]n insurance company providing insurance . . . may not proceed against its insured in a subrogation action where the loss was caused by the nonintentional acts of the insured.” The court of appeals affirmed.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is the scope of the prohibition in Minn. Stat. § 60A.41(a) against an insurance company proceeding against “its insured” in a subrogation action. (Sherburne County)

Keith Daniel, Appellant vs. City of Minneapolis, Respondent – Case No. A17-0141:Appellant Keith Daniel worked as a firefighter for respondent City of Minneapolis. During the course of his employment, Daniel suffered numerous work-related injuries. In 2014, Daniel sustained an ankle injury for which he filed a workers’ compensation claim. After this injury, Daniel engaged in prolonged discussions with the Minneapolis Fire Department about the shoes he could wear in the station house to accommodate his injury, but they were never able to agree on a shoe that satisfied both parties. In 2016, following several more injuries, Daniel resigned from his position by accepting “Duty Disability Retirement”; he also stipulated to a settlement of his workers’ compensation claims.

Before his employment ended, Daniel sued the City of Minneapolis. Among other claims, Daniel asserted disability discrimination and retaliation claims under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), Minn. Stat. §§ 363A.01–.44 (2016). The district court denied the City’s motion for summary judgment, which argued in part that the district court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over the MHRA claims due to the exclusive-remedy provision of the Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA), Minn. Stat. § 176.031 (2016). The court of appeals reversed and remanded, concluding that “the district court does not have subject-matter jurisdiction over Daniel’s MHRA claims” because they are “based on a workplace injury that is compensable under the WCA.”

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether the exclusive remedy provision of the WCA bars Daniel’s claim for disability discrimination under the MHRA; and (2) whether the exclusive remedy provision of the WCA bars Daniel’s claim for retaliation under the MHRA.(Hennepin County)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Tracy R. Eichhorn-Hicks, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 0026128 – Case No. A17-1039:An attorney discipline case that presents the question of what discipline, if any, is appropriate based on the facts of the matter.

State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Antionette Rie Johnson, Appellant – Case No. A17-1410Following a jury trial, appellant Antionette Johnson was convicted of aiding first-degree premeditated intentional murder and aiding second-degree intentional murder for her role in the shooting death of Renaldo McDaniel in the parking lot of an auto parts store in Saint Paul. The district court sentenced Johnson to life in prison without the possibility of release.

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether the district court committed prejudicial error by denying Johnson’s motion to suppress her statement to the police; (2) whether the district court committed prejudicial error by failing to obtain Johnson’s consent on the record to a no-adverse inference instruction; and (3) whether the prosecutor committed prejudicial misconduct during closing argument by commenting on Johnson’s failure to follow up with a police sergeant after an interview, which she contends was an indirect comment on her failure to testify at the trial.(Ramsey County)

Monday, June 11, 2018
State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Keith Lee Scovel, Appellant – Case No. A16-1931: On September 7, 2016, pursuant to a plea agreement, appellant Keith Scovel pleaded guilty to second-degree sale of a controlled substance. At the plea hearing, Scovel admitted that he sold 5.4 grams of methamphetamine on March 15, 2016. The district court accepted Scovel’s guilty plea and sentenced him to 70 months in prison. The district court determined Scovel had a criminal-history score of two. It assigned Scovel one point for his prior misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors and assigned him 0.5 points for his 2007 and 2012 felony convictions for fifth-degree controlled-substance crime, for a total of one felony point.

Scovel argued to the court of appeals that he was sentenced using the wrong criminal-history score. Scovel contended that an offense may be assigned felony points when calculating a criminal-history score only if the offense is a felony based on the law at the time of sentencing. Scovel claimed that under section 7 of the 2016 Drug Sentencing Reform Act, see Act of May 22, 2016, ch. 160, § 7, 2016 Minn. Laws 576, 583-85 (codified at Minn. Stat. § 152.025, subd. 4(a) (2016)), his 2007 conviction for fifth-degree controlled-substance was no longer a felony under current law. The court of appeals affirmed Scovel’s sentence.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether Scovel was sentenced based on an incorrect criminal-history score because the district court assigned him 0.5 felony points for his 2007 conviction for fifth-degree controlled substance crime. (Itasca County)

In re OCC, LLC, Petitioner vs. County of Hennepin, Respondent – Case No. A18-0526: Petitioner OCC’s notice to remove the judge assigned to its pending tax cases, filed under Minn. R. Civ. P. 63.03, was not honored once the court determined that it was not practicable to do so. OCC filed a petition for a writ of mandamus with the supreme court, asking the court to vacate the tax court’s order and direct that court to assign a new judicial offer.

The issues presented are: (1) whether OCC’s Notice to Remove was timely; (2) whether, assuming extraordinary relief is available, prohibition or mandamus is the appropriate relief; and (3) whether OCC is entitled to extraordinary relief. (Minnesota Tax Court)

Nonoral: Terrance W. Sargent, Relator vs. Commissioner of Revenue, Respondent – Case No. A18-0216: Relator Terrance Sargent did not file Minnesota individual income tax returns for tax years 2010 through 2014. Sargent claims that a state tax on wages is unconstitutional. In 2016, respondent Commissioner of Revenue issued an order assessing him Minnesota individual income tax, penalty, and interest. Sargent appealed, and the dispute ultimately reached the tax court. The tax court granted summary judgment to the Commissioner, concluding that Minnesota’s income tax is constitutional.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is the constitutionality of Minnesota’s income tax. (Minnesota Tax Court)

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