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Meier v. Meier

Supreme Court of North Dakota

June 24, 2014

Gayla M. Meier, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
David M. Meier, Defendant and Appellant

Appeal from the District Court of Ramsey County, Northeast Judicial District, the Honorable Lee A. Christofferson, Judge.

REVERSED.

Michael S. McIntee, Towner, N.D., for plaintiff and appellee.

Michael P. Hurly, Devils Lake, N.D., for defendant and appellant.

Lisa Fair McEvers, Carol Ronning Kapsner, Dale V. Sandstrom, Daniel J. Crothers, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J. Opinion of the Court by McEvers, Justice.

OPINION

Page 254

McEvers, Justice.

[¶1] David Meier appeals from an amended divorce judgment awarding Gayla Meier a share of his Tier II railroad retirement benefits. We conclude the district court abused its discretion in granting Gayla Meier's N.D.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(6) motion for relief from the divorce judgment because, as a matter of law, the motion was not made within a reasonable time. We reverse the amended judgment.

I

[¶2] David and Gayla Meier divorced in January 2005 after 27 years of marriage. The parties, each represented by an attorney, entered into a written settlement agreement which was incorporated into the divorce judgment. Under the agreement, David Meier agreed to pay Gayla Meier $60,000 " to equalize the distribution of the marital assets" and Gayla Meier also received her own retirement account. David Meier had been employed with BNSF Railway Company since 1974, but his railroad retirement benefits were not mentioned in the agreement or the

Page 255

resulting judgment. The attorneys for the parties, however, had discussed those benefits during negotiations leading to the settlement agreement. In a November 4, 2004 letter, Gayla Meier's attorney questioned David Meier's attorney:

I am just wondering how you and your client are justifying an offer of $50,000 when his railroad retirement is over $800,000? I don't want to be difficult, Mark, but I would just like to know how you figure that that is a fair trade. If we are going to try to get this ...

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