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John D. Erickson, Richard B. Dregseth, and Jon A. Ramsey v. Randy Brown

February 27, 2012

JOHN D. ERICKSON, RICHARD B. DREGSETH, AND JON A. RAMSEY,
PLAINTIFFS RICHARD B. DREGSETH,
APPELLANT
v.
RANDY BROWN,
DEFENDANT AND APPELLEE AND
CAPITAL HARVEST, INC.,
DEFENDANT



Appeal from the District Court of Grand Forks County, Northeast Central Judicial District, the Honorable Karen Kosanda Braaten, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Crothers, Justice.

N.D. Supreme CourtErickson v. Brown,

2012 ND 43

This opinion is subject to petition for rehearing. [Go to Documents]

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AFFIRMED.

Opinion of the Court by Crothers, Justice.

[¶1] Richard Dregseth appeals the district court's judgment dismissing his equitable claims against Randy Brown. Dregseth argues the district court erred by (1) failing to make findings of fact in compliance with N.D.R.Civ.P. 52(a)(1), (2) failing to reject Brown's testimony and (3) dismissing Dregseth's promissory estoppel, equitable estoppel and unjust enrichment claims. We affirm.

I

[¶2] Our prior decision in this case contains the relevant facts, and we will not repeat them except as necessary to resolve the issues raised in this appeal. See Erickson v. Brown ("Erickson I"), 2008 ND 57, ¶¶ 3-11, 747 N.W.2d 34. In 1999, Dregseth left his job at Bremer Bank to work for Brown at Capital Harvest, Inc., a captive finance company for AGSCO, Inc., a corporation owned Brown. Dregseth worked for Brown until 2003, first at Capital Harvest then at AGSCO. In 2005, Dregseth and two former Capital Harvest employees, John D. Erickson and Jon A. Ramsey, sued Brown and Capital Harvest for breach of contract, fraud, deceit, promissory estoppel, equitable estoppel, unjust enrichment and breach of fiduciary duty. Dregseth claimed he was entitled to be paid the value of an ownership interest in Capital Harvest that Brown promised to provide as part of Dregseth's compensation.

[¶3] Prior to the last appeal, the district court dismissed all of Dregseth's claims before trial except those against Brown for breach of contract and for what a majority of this Court called fraud. The jury found Brown did not enter into a contract with Dregseth, and the district court entered a final judgment dismissing all of Dregseth's claims against Capital Harvest and Brown. Dregseth appealed.

[¶4] In Erickson I, we affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded for further proceedings on Dregseth's deceit and equitable claims. Those claims were based on allegations that Brown initially agreed to "give" Dregseth an ownership interest but subsequently and unilaterally decided to allow Dregseth to "earn" an ownership interest if Capital Harvest was profitable. Dregseth claimed Brown first offered Dregseth a 5 percent ownership interest in Capital Harvest. Dregseth claimed he countered by requesting an 8 percent ownership interest. Dregseth claimed Erickson, acting on Brown's behalf, accepted Dregseth's proposal, giving rise to Brown's first alleged promise to give Dregseth an 8 percent ownership interest. Dregseth claimed Brown then unilaterally changed the agreement requiring Dregseth to earn the ownership interest under Erickson's written transfer schedule. We affirmed dismissal of the claims based on the alleged promise to earn an interest but remanded for further proceedings on Brown's alleged promise to give Dregseth an interest.

[¶5] Before trial, the parties stipulated to dismissal of Dregseth's deceit claim against Brown and all of his claims against Capital Harvest. On June 8-10, 2010, the district court conducted a bench trial on Dregseth's promissory estoppel, equitable estoppel and unjust enrichment claims against Brown. Dregseth, Brown, Erickson and two economists testified at trial. On January 26, 2011, the district court issued an order dismissing Dregseth's remaining claims. Judgment was entered on March 11, 2011, and amended judgment was entered on July 1, 2011. Dregseth took a timely appeal from the judgment.

II

[ΒΆ6] Dregseth argues the district court failed to comply with N.D.R.Civ.P. 52(a)(1) because its written decision is unclear whether the "Facts" section constitutes the court's specific findings. Dregseth requests remand for new findings of fact and conclusions of law. Brown responds that no remand is necessary because the district court's ...


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