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Adams v. Adams

Supreme Court of North Dakota

May 4, 2015

John Duane Adams, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Sandra Kathleen Adams, Defendant and Appellant

Page 233

Appeal from the District Court of Cass County, East Central Judicial District, the Honorable Wickham Corwin, Judge.

James R. Brothers, Fargo, N.D., for plaintiff and appellee.

Joshua M. Benson (argued) and Kathleen M. Newman (on brief), Minneapolis, MN, for defendant and appellant.

Jerilynn Brantner Adams (appeared), Fargo, N.D., for defendant and appellant.

Dale V. Sandstrom, Daniel J. Crothers, Lisa Fair McEvers, Donovan J. Foughty, D.J. The Honorable Donovan J. Foughty, D.J., sitting in place of Kapsner, J., disqualified. VandeWalle, Chief Justice, concurring specially. Opinion of the Court by Sandstrom, Justice.

OPINION

Page 234

Sandstrom, Justice.

[¶1] Sandra Adams appeals from an amended supplemental judgment dividing the marital estate between her and John Adams. On appeal, Sandra Adams argues the district court's property division was not equitable, because the court erred in not applying discounts to the values of properties awarded to her. She also argues the court erred in applying a two percent interest rate to a payment from John Adams equalizing the court's property division. We affirm.

I

[¶2] Sandra Adams and John Adams were married in 1971. John Adams sued her for divorce in 2011. The district court entered a partial judgment granting the parties a divorce in April 2013, and an October 2013 trial was held on property division and other issues.

[¶3] Over the course of the marriage, the parties built a substantial and complex marital estate, consisting primarily of ownership in businesses that own residential and commercial real estate. Many of the businesses are interrelated and interdependent. Because of the complexities of the businesses, the district court found it was difficult to divide the entities in distributing the marital property. The court also found factors weighing against liquidation of the businesses, and it was in " the best interest of both parties to keep the interconnected and interdependent business entities together, and operating as going concerns." The court found John Adams had the most knowledge and involvement in the businesses, and awarded them to him. Sandra Adams was awarded assets that could be separated from the business entities.

[¶4] AKA Hotel Ventures (" AKA" ) and Adams Investment Limited Partnership (" Adams Investment LP" ) are examples of interrelated entities. AKA owns the Radisson Hotel (" Radisson" ) in Fargo. The Radisson consists of 13 floors of an 18-story building, the Radisson Tower. Adams Investment LP is a holding company owning a majority of the parties' marital

Page 235

assets, including 99 percent of AKA and the 15th and 16th floors of the Radisson Tower (" two floors" ). Adams Investment LP loaned money to AKA to fund renovations to the Radisson, which left $12,000,000 payable by AKA to Adams Investment LP. Sandra Adams was active in the management of the Radisson. The district court found the Radisson and the two floors could be separated from AKA and Adams Investment LP and awarded the Radisson and the two floors to Sandra Adams.

[¶5] Before trial, the parties stipulated to the appointment of Dianna Kindseth, a neutral appraiser, to itemize and value the marital assets, including the numerous business entities owned by the parties. Real estate appraisers were also retained by Kindseth and by the parties individually. In valuing the businesses, Kindseth and other appraisers prepared detailed valuation reports describing the valuation method used, information ...


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