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Dakota Heritage Bank v. Iaccone

Supreme Court of North Dakota

July 17, 2014

Dakota Heritage Bank, f/k/a First State Bank of Gackle Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Michael J. Iaccone, Trustee for the Willard L. Pankonin bankruptcy estate, Christi J. Pankonin, a/k/a Kristi J. Pankonin, Laverle Carstensen, Paul Modell, Marjorie Modell, and Punchco, Inc., Defendants Christi J. Pankonin, Appellant and Ralph Rivinius and LorRaine Rivinius, Interested Parties

Appeal from the District Court of Logan County, South Central Judicial District, the Honorable Sonna M. Anderson, Judge.

Roger J. Minch, Fargo, N.D., for plaintiff and appellee.

Timothy C. Lamb, Grand Forks, N.D., for appellant.

Daniel J. Crothers, Lisa Fair McEvers, Carol Ronning Kapsner, Dale V. Sandstrom, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J.

OPINION

Crothers, Justice.

Page 220

[¶1] Christi Pankonin appeals from a judgment awarding attorney's fees to Dakota Heritage Bank. Pankonin argues the district court abused its discretion in awarding attorney's fees and the judgment is not enforceable. We affirm the judgment.

I

[¶2] Willard and Christi Pankonin owned real property in Logan County, which was mortgaged with the Bank. The Bank brought a foreclosure action and a judgment was entered. Before the Pankonins' redemption period expired, Willard

Page 221

Pankonin filed for bankruptcy protection in federal court, his interest in the property was transferred to his bankruptcy estate and Michael Iaccone[1] was appointed bankruptcy trustee. The defendants, Christi Pankonin and Iaccone, on behalf of Willard Pankonin's bankruptcy estate, moved for relief from the judgment. Attorney Timothy Lamb represented the defendants. On June 6, 2012, the district court denied the motion for relief and awarded the Bank costs and disbursements without prejudice to any subsequent claim for attorney's fees.

[¶3] On July 3, 2012, the Bank moved for sanctions, including attorney's fees, under N.D.R.Civ.P. 11, and N.D.C.C. § § 28-26-01 and 28-26-31. The Bank argued the defendants repeatedly changed their arguments in support of their motion for relief, their arguments were frivolous and intended to cause unnecessary delay and a significant amount of additional expenses were incurred responding to the frivolous arguments. The defendants opposed the motion. On September 6, 2012, the district court entered an order granting the motion for sanctions. The court found the defendants violated N.D.R.Civ.P. 11 and found an admonishment of Lamb was the appropriate sanction for that violation. The court also found the defendants' claims were frivolous and ordered them to pay $2,100 in attorney's fees under N.D.C.C. § 28-26-01(2). The court found the defendants were not subject to sanctions under N.D.C.C. § 28-26-31.

[¶4] Christi Pankonin appealed from the order denying her motion for relief from judgment. This Court affirmed the order and noted the order for sanctions was not appealed. Dakota Heritage Bank v. Pankonin, 2013 ND 15, ¶ ¶ 1-2, 828 N.W.2d 546.

[¶5] On July 9, 2013, the Bank filed a proposed order for judgment and a proposed judgment for the ordered attorney's fees. On July 18, 2013, the district court entered a judgment stating, " Dakota Heritage Bank has judgment, jointly and severly [sic], against Michael J. Iaccone, Christi J. Pankonin and Timothy C. Lamb in the total amount of $2,100, the Court having determine[d] that this sum is the joint and several obligation of the defendants and judgment debtors to Dakota Heritage Bank." Notice of entry of judgment was not filed until April 16, 2014.

[¶6] On November 5, 2013, the Bank filed a motion to compel Lamb to provide post-judgment discovery responses related to the judgment for attorney's fees. On November 19, 2013, Lamb filed a brief resisting the motion to compel discovery. On January 2, 2014, the district court entered an order compelling Lamb to respond to the Bank's interrogatories and ...


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