Louise Broten and Linda Schuler, in their individual capacities and as co-Personal Representatives of the Estate of Helen Broten, deceased, Plaintiffs and Appellees
James Broten, in his individual capacity, and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Olaf Broten, deceased, Defendant and Appellant
from the District Court of Barnes County, Southeast Judicial
District, the Honorable Jay A. Schmitz, Judge.
IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED.
J. Smith (argued) and Tyler J. Malm (on brief), for
plaintiffs and appellees.
Douglas W. Murch for defendant and appellant.
1] James Broten, individually, and as personal representative
of the estate of Olaf Broten, appeals from a second amended
judgment denying him restitution for payments he made to his
parents during their lifetimes. We affirm in part, reverse in
part, and remand.
2] The relevant facts in this case are summarized in
Broten v. Broten, 2015 ND 127, 863 N.W.2d 902, and
we will not repeat them here except as necessary to resolve
the issue raised in this appeal.
3] In 1979, Broten and his parents Helen and Olaf Broten
executed a contract for deed to purchase approximately 480
acres of farmland. Broten agreed to purchase the farmland for
$200, 000 plus six percent annual interest through 2006.
After his father's death in 1998, Broten, as personal
representative of the estate, conveyed the farmland to
himself with his mother receiving a life estate.
4] After Broten's mother died in 2010, his sisters, as
personal co-representatives of the estate, sued Broten
alleging he breached his fiduciary duties by transferring the
farmland to himself after his father's death. At trial in
2013, Broten testified that under an oral modification to the
contract, he agreed to pay his parents' living expenses
for the rest of their lives in addition to the $12, 000
annual interest payment in exchange for the farmland. Broten
submitted documents showing he made the payments to his
parents or on their behalf.
5] After trial the district court found the parties mutually
agreed to abandon the terms of the written contract for deed.
The court also found Broten did not prove the oral
modification to the contract and breached his fiduciary
duties to his father's estate by transferring the
farmland to himself. The court ordered Broten to pay $1, 197,
000 for the value of the farmland as of December 2013.
6] This Court affirmed the judgment finding a breach of
fiduciary duty and award of damages, but remanded to the
district court to decide whether Broten was entitled to
compensation for improvements he made to the farmland or for
payments he made to his parents or on their behalf.
Broten v. Broten, 2015 ND 127, ¶¶ 23-24,
863 N.W.2d 902.
7] On remand, Broten relied on evidence submitted at trial
and argued he paid over $342, 000 to his parents and made
$20, 000 in improvements to the farmland. Broten argued his
parents benefited from the annual interest payments and his
payments for their health, home and auto insurance premiums
and utility bills. The district court entered a second
amended judgment reducing the amount Broten owed by $20, 000
for improvements he made to the property. The court did not
award Broten restitution for the payments he made to his
parents or on their behalf. The court concluded Broten
benefited from the relationship with his parents and failed
to prove his parents were unjustly enriched by the payments
he made to them or on their behalf.
8] Broten argues the district court erred in denying him
restitution for payments he made to his parents or on their
behalf. Broten argues the court erred in concluding ...