Articles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court

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The Federal Arbitration Act does not preempt all state arbitration law. A party alleging an arbitration agreement is unconscionable must demonstrate some quantum of both procedural and substantive unconscionability. A party's failure to clearly object to a defect in arbitration proceedings prior to or during arbitration may constitute a waiver of the objection. Lynne Thompson appealed a district court order compelling arbitration, a judgment confirming the arbitration award, and an order denying her motion to vacate the judgment or for a new trial. Thompson sued Lithia ND Acquisition Corp. #1, seeking to rescind a contract to purchase a vehicle and for damages for unjust enrichment and unlawful sales practices. Lithia moved to dismiss Thompson's complaint and to compel arbitration, arguing there was an enforceable agreement to arbitrate. Thompson responded to the motion, arguing the arbitration agreement was unenforceable and unconscionable and claiming she was entitled to a jury trial on the issue of the enforceability. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, concluding the district court did not err in compelling arbitration or confirming the arbitrator's award. View "Thompson v. Lithia ND Acquisition Corp. #1" on Justia Law

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Trinity Health provided Charles Tuttle with $127,001.07 in medical services. Tuttle applied for financial assistance with Trinity, but was denied. Tuttle failed to pay the medical bill after Trinity demanded payment. Trinity subsequently assigned the debt to A.R. Audit Services. A.R. Audit sued Tuttle to collect the medical debt. Tuttle counterclaimed, alleging A.R. Audit failed to provide him thirty days to respond to the debt collection demand. A.R. Audit moved for summary judgment, arguing Tuttle was responsible for the entire debt because he failed to provide to Trinity information necessary to complete the application for financial assistance. Tuttle responded with a motion to dismiss, arguing Trinity should have sued him to collect the debt instead of A.R. Audit. He also claimed Trinity representatives told him he qualified for financial assistance with Trinity and would not owe any money to Trinity. The district court denied Tuttle's motion to dismiss, dismissed his counterclaims, and granted A.R. Audit's summary judgment motion, concluding Tuttle failed to show he was not responsible for the debt. Tuttle appealed. After review, the Supreme Court modified the judgment to reimburse Tuttle for paying A.R. Audit's $80 filing fee, and affirmed the judgment as modified. View "A. R. Audit Services, Inc. v. Tuttle" on Justia Law

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Steven and Connie Falkenstein appealed a district court judgment dismissing their claims against Jon W. Dill and Credico, Inc. for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"). The Falkensteins received medical services from Medcenter One but failed to pay the total balance due. The debt was assigned to Credico, Inc. for collection. Dill, an in-house attorney and employee of Credico, Inc., communicated with the Falkensteins regarding the debt. In March 2009, judgment was entered in favor of Credico, Inc. for the amount of the Falkensteins' debt, including interest. Upon review of the trial court record, the Supreme Court found no error with the district court's dismissal and affirmed. View "Falkenstein v. Dill" on Justia Law

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Defendant Helen Cupido appealed a trial court's summary judgment entered in favor of Recovery Resources, LLC. Helen and David Cupido married in January 1993. In March 2010, David Cupido incurred medical expenses at St. Alexius Medical Center. The parties divorced in April 2011. Under the divorce judgment, the trial court ordered David Cupido responsible for payment of the debt owed to St. Alexius Medical Center. The divorce judgment also required Helen and David to indemnify one another from any and all collection activities, which may arise regarding debts awarded to a party. Recovery Resources, LLC, a collection company, sued Helen and David for $9,494.61 owed to St. Alexius Medical Center for medical care provided to David while he and Helen were married and living together. David did not answer Recovery Resources' claim and a default judgment was entered against him. Helen answered denying liability and cross-claimed for indemnity against David. Helen then moved for summary judgment arguing she was entitled to judgment, as a matter of law, because the divorce judgment allocated the debt to David. Recovery Resources resisted and moved for summary judgment arguing it was entitled to judgment, as a matter of law, because Helen was liable for the debt. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Recovery Resources. On appeal, Helen contended the trial court erred: (1) by concluding she is jointly and severally liable for the debt David incurred, and (2) by failing to dismiss her from the lawsuit based on the indemnification language in the divorce judgment. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the indemnification language in the divorce judgment between Helen and David Cupido did not affect Recovery Resources' statutory right to recover the debt. Accordingly the trial court did not err in failing to dismiss Helen from the collection action. View "Recovery Resources, LLC v. Cupido" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Sean Weeks appealed a summary judgment that dismissed his claims against Michael Geiermann and Collection Center, Inc. (collectively "Collection Center") for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. In 2009, Plaintiff brought this action against the Center for its attempt to collect $3,034.21 in interest on a debt he owed to Medcenter One for clinic and hospital services. Plaintiff obtained medical services from Medcenter's clinic and hospital. According to billing records for the clinic, Plaintiff received services between 2002 and 2008 and was billed $6,752.46, of which his insurance paid $4,698.72. After an insurance adjustment of $1,427.26, Weeks was responsible for $626.48. Weeks paid $453.40, and after another adjustment of $2.03, $171.05 remained unpaid. In July 2009, attorney Geiermann on behalf of Collection Center sent Plaintiff a letter, demanding payment to the hospital for $4,481.22 and to the clinic for $171.05. The letter also demanded $3,003.28 in interest for the hospital and $30.93 in interest for the clinic. The district court granted Collection Center's summary judgment motion and dismissed Plaintiff's action, stating the case was "fairly straightforward." The court held there was no disagreement that Plaintiff had incurred a debt to Medcenter for medical services that remained unpaid which constituted a "legal indebtedness." The court further held that, according to Plaintiff's affidavit, he never received anything in writing from Medcenter indicating any interest would be assessed in the event of nonpayment of this debt after a specified period of time. The court concluded "as a matter of law, that [Collection Center was] rightfully entitled to collect interest from Weeks at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum on the legal indebtedness owed by Weeks to [Collection Center], as the assignee of Medcenter One." Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed, concluding that a "medical services provider," who does not make disclosures required under N.D.C.C. 13-01-15 to charge the "late payment charge" allowed under N.D.C.C. 13-01-14.1, is still entitled to prejudgment interest under N.D.C.C. 47-14-05 at the legal rate of six percent per annum. View "Weeks v. Geiermann" on Justia Law

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Defendant-Appellant Randall Peterson appealed the district court order that denied his motion for reconsideration of a judgment entered against him for credit card debt owed to Plaintiff-Appellee Citibank (South Dakota), N.A. (Citibank). Citibank sued Defendant alleging he failed to pay his bill. Defendant filed what he called a âspecial appearanceâ only to ask that the complaint be dismissed. The district court denied Defendantâs motion to dismiss. Subsequently Defendant filed a letter he had sent to the lawyer disciplinary board to the district court. The district court eventually entered a default judgment in favor of Citibank, and ordered Defendant to pay his bill. On appeal, Defendant argued that the two documents (the âspecial appearanceâ and the letter to the disciplinary board) were âbrush offsâ by the court, and constituted an abuse of discretion by the court in entering the default against him. The Supreme Court noted many of the technical problems with Defendantâs submissions to the lower court. Even in his application for appeal, Defendant addressed no errors at the lower court, and raised no real issues for the Courtâs review. Subsequently, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the lower court.