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Winter v. Solheim

Supreme Court of North Dakota

August 25, 2015

Raymond Winter, Petitioner and Appellant
v.
Susan Jo Solheim, Acting as Judicial Referee of the Small Claims Court, and Prairie Supply, Inc., Respondents Prairie Supply, Inc. Appellee

Page 843

Appeal from the District Court of Cass County, East Central Judicial District, the Honorable Steven L. Marquart, Judge.

Jonathan T. Garaas, Fargo, N.D., for petitioner and appellant.

Ann E. Miller, Fargo, N.D., for appellee.

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.

OPINION

Page 844

Gerald W. VandeWalle, Chief Justice.

[¶1] Raymond Winter, the defendant in a small claims court action, appealed from a district court order denying his petition for a writ of certiorari, claiming the small claims court exceeded its jurisdiction in entering a judgment against Winter. Winter alternatively requests this Court grant a supervisory writ directing the small claims court to vacate its judgment against Winter. We affirm, concluding the small claims court did not exceed its jurisdiction, and we decline supervisory jurisdiction.

I

[¶2] Prairie Supply, Inc. (" Prairie" ) sued Winter, doing business as Prairie Wood Products, in small claims court alleging Winter sold Prairie wood stakes that did not conform to samples provided to Prairie. Winter answered, alleging Prairie's claim affidavit was defective, and he was not a party to the contracts with Prairie. Winter asserted the agreements for the wood stakes were between Prairie and his employer Pro Pallet, Inc., a North Dakota corporation doing business as Prairie Wood Products. After an unrecorded hearing, the small claims court entered a $15,000 judgment against Winter. Winter petitioned the district court for a writ of certiorari, arguing the small claims court exceeded its jurisdiction. The district court denied Winter's petition, concluding the small claims court had jurisdiction over the action, and Winter was improperly seeking to use a writ of certiorari to appeal from the small claims court judgment.

II

[¶3] Winter raises numerous issues on appeal, however, this Court's review of a district court's denial of a petition for a writ of certiorari is limited to the question of whether the small claims court exceeded its jurisdiction. Heick v. Erickson, 2001 ND 200, ¶ 5, 636 N.W.2d 913; N.D.C.C. § 32-33-09. " [I]f a small claims court has subject matter and personal jurisdiction, a writ of certiorari may not be used to review an alleged erroneous decision by a small claims court." Svanes v. Grenz, 492 N.W.2d 576, 577 (N.D. 1992).

[¶4] Small claims court is " an informal forum for resolving minor disputes and is intended to keep small claims proceedings simple." Id. at 578. In small claims court, neither formal pleadings, nor attorneys, are required. N.D.C.C. § ...


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