Appeal from the District Court of Cass County, East Central Judicial District, the Honorable Steven L. Marquart, Judge.
Jonathan T. Garaas, DeMores Office Park, Fargo, N.D., for plaintiff and appellant.
Melinda H. Weerts, Fargo, N.D., for defendant and appellee Brazil Law Office, PLLC; submitted on brief.
Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J., Carol Ronning Kapsner, Lisa Fair McEvers, Daniel J. Crothers, Dale V. Sandstrom. Opinion of the Court by VandeWalle, Chief Justice.
VandeWalle, Chief Justice.
[¶1] Bradley Jordet appealed from a summary judgment dismissing his abuse of process and conversion claims against Tracy Jordet and the Brazil Law Office. We conclude the district court did not err in dismissing the abuse of process claim but there are genuine issues of material fact related to Bradley Jordet's conversion claim. We affirm the dismissal of the abuse of process claim, and we reverse the dismissal of the conversion claim and remand.
[¶2] Bradley and Tracy Jordet were divorced in 2010. Bradley Jordet was awarded primary residential responsibility for the parties' two children and Tracy Jordet was ordered to pay child support. Bradley Jordet was ordered to pay Tracy Jordet rehabilitative spousal support. Both parties fell into arrears on their financial obligations to each other.
[¶3] In December 2011, Bradley Jordet moved for entry of a money judgment against Tracy Jordet for $9,071.78 in past due child support. He also moved to setoff his spousal support arrearages against Tracy Jordet's child support arrearages. In January 2012, Tracy Jordet obtained a money judgment against Bradley Jordet for $7,715.49 for his spousal support arrearages. She also opposed Bradley Jordet's motion for a setoff. The district court denied Bradley Jordet's motion to setoff the arrearages.
[¶4] On February 16, 2012, Bradley Jordet obtained an execution of judgment from the district court against Tracy Jordet directing the Cass County Sheriff to satisfy the $9,071.78 judgment for unpaid child support " out of the personal property of the judgment debtor within your County." On February 17 and 21, 2012, the sheriff levied on Tracy Jordet's bank accounts. On March 26, 2012, Bradley Jordet, accompanied by his attorney, Jonathan Garaas, and a Cass County deputy sheriff, went to the office of Tracy Jordet's attorney, the Brazil Law Office. Bradley Jordet gave the firm's office assistant a personal check, made payable to Tracy Jordet's attorney for $7,825.89 and marked " Back Spousal Support." The sheriff then delivered a notice of levy to the office assistant and took possession of the check. The notice of levy stated that claims for exemptions from process must be made within 10 days. Tracy Jordet did not claim any exemptions.
[¶5] On March 26, 2012, Tracy Jordet objected to the notice of levy and sought an emergency hearing. She asked the district court to hold Garaas in contempt " for attempting to circumvent" the earlier order denying the motion to allow a setoff. After a hearing, the court held Garaas in contempt for intentional disobedience of a court order and ordered that Garaas may purge the contempt ...