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Balvitsch v. Dakota Burger N Fries Corp.

Supreme Court of North Dakota

February 18, 2014

Jason BALVITSCH and Chad Weisgram, Plaintiffs and Appellees
v.
DAKOTA BURGER N FRIES CORPORATION and Jon Tollefson, Defendants. Jon Tollefson, Appellant.

Page 909

Michael L. Gust (argued) and Tyler S. Carlson (on brief), Fargo, N.D., for plaintiffs and appellees.

Jon R. Tollefson, Detroit Lakes, Minn., defendant and appellant; self-represented.

KAPSNER, Justice.

[¶ 1] Jon Tollefson appeals from a district court order holding him in contempt of court and ordering him to pay $750 in attorney's fees to Jason Balvitsch and Chad Weisgram. We reverse, concluding Tollefson did not have adequate notice of the contempt proceeding.

I

[¶ 2] Balvitsch and Weisgram sued Tollefson for breach of contract, conversion, unjust enrichment, and other claims. The district court held a scheduling conference on February 8, 2013.

[¶ 3] On April 12, 2013, Balvitsch and Weisgram moved to hold Tollefson in contempt, alleging Tollefson failed to obey a February 8, 2013, order instructing Tollefson not to make any further attacks on the parties and other non-party individuals during the course of the litigation. Balvitsch and Weisgram alleged the court ordered Tollefson at the scheduling conference to stop all attacks against a non-party individual and to stick to the facts of the case during the litigation. They alleged Tollefson ignored the court's order by threatening to launch websites defaming Weisgram and the non-party individual. Balvitsch and Weisgram filed an affidavit with attached exhibits to support their allegations.

[¶ 4] On April 12, 2013, the court entered an order to show cause. The order to show cause noted the time and place for the contempt hearing and ordered that Tollefson appear and show cause " why an Order should not be had and why you should not be held and charged to be in Contempt of Court, for your failing to obey a court Order issued February 8, 2013, instructing you to make no further attacks on parties and non-party individuals."

[¶ 5] On April 29, 2013, the court held a hearing on the order to show cause. After the hearing, the court found Tollefson was in contempt and ordered sanctions, stating:

Based upon the filings on record with the Court, including, but not limited to, [Balvitsch and Weisgram's] Motion for Contempt and the Affidavit of [Balvitsch and Weisgram's attorney], as well as the arguments during the hearing of April 29, 2013, the Court hereby finds Jon

Page 910

Tollefson to be in contempt of court. As a sanction for Jon Tollefson's contempt, Tollefson must pay attorney's fees to [Balvitsch and Weisgram] in the amount of $750 within fourteen (14) days of the date of this Order.

II

[¶ 6] Contempt of court includes the " [i]ntentional disobedience, resistence, or obstruction of the authority, process, or order of a court or other officer, including a referee or magistrate[.]" N.D.C.C. § 27-10-01.1(1)(c). A court may impose remedial or punitive sanctions for contempt. N.D.C.C. § 27-10-01.2. Payment of money to compensate a party, including for costs and expenses incurred as a result of the contempt, is a remedial sanction. N.D.C.C. § ...


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