Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Johnston Land Company, LLC v. Sorenson

Supreme Court of North Dakota

July 18, 2018

Johnston Land Company, LLC, Petitioner and Appellant
v.
Sara K. Sorenson, Individually and Ohnstad Twichell, P.C., a North Dakota Professional Corporation, Respondents and Appellees

          Appeal from the District Court of Grand Forks County, Northeast Central Judicial District, the Honorable Stacy J. Louser, Judge.

          DeWayne A. Johnston, Grand Forks, ND, for petitioner and appellant.

          Stephen R. Hanson II (argued) and Robert G. Hoy (on brief), West Fargo, ND, for respondents and appellees.

          OPINION

          CROTHERS, JUSTICE.

         [¶ 1] Johnston Land Company, LLC, appeals from an order denying its petition to invalidate an alleged lien filed by attorney Sara K. Sorenson in the form of an affidavit regarding property in Grand Forks County. Johnston argues the district court erred in holding the affidavit was not a nonconsensual common-law lien and in not granting his petition to invalidate the lien. We affirm the order as to the affidavit's nature, reverse as to remaining issues and remand for additional proceedings.

         I

         [¶ 2] A dispute over excessive attorney fees led to the present case. John E. Widdel, Jr., represented the trustees of the Donald G. Amundson Trust. Estate of Amundson, 2015 ND 253, ¶¶ 2-3, 870 N.W.2d 208. In 2013 beneficiaries of the estate petitioned for court determination of attorney fees. Id. The district court ordered Widdell to refund $95, 000.00 in attorney fees. Id. at ¶ 4. We affirmed the district court's determination. Id. at ¶ 27.

         [¶ 3] During litigation over the fees, Widdel's family's limited liability partnership, Bell Fire LLP, transferred property to a revocable living trust in the name of his wife. In a deposition related to the debt Widdel testified he has essentially no assets, lived rent-free in an apartment owned by the Widdel trust, and drove a car owned by his wife. The Widdel trust currently seeks to sell the property at issue to Johnston, which has offices on the property. Beneficiaries of the Amundson trust filed suit in 2017 regarding other allegedly fraudulent transfers by Widdel to avoid paying the judgment.

         [¶ 4] Ohnstad Twichell, P.C., and Sorenson represented the beneficiaries of Amundson's estate. On March 16, 2015 Sorenson recorded an affidavit in Grand Forks County:

"Sara K. Sorenson, being duly sworn, deposes and states as follows:
"I am an attorney with the law firm of Ohnstad Twichell, P.C., who represents petitioners Andrea Rebman Green, Carolyn Rebman, Charlene Leibold, Colin Leibold, Eric Rebman, Glen Rebman, and Jacob Leibold, in the estate entitled 'In the Matter of the Estate of Donald G. Amundson, Deceased.' Petitioners have obtained a Judgment against John E. Widdel Jr., a/k/a/ J.E. Widdel, a/k/a/ Jack Widdel, and Law Offices - North Dakota, P.C., jointly and severally, in the amount of $95, 000, a true and correct copy of which Judgment is attached hereto as Exhibit 'A.'
"On March 10, 2015, the undersigned deposed John E. Widdel Jr., a/k/a/ J.E. Widdel, a/k/a/ Jack Widdel, in an effort to obtain information about the nature and extent of assets held by him. At the deposition, the undersigned discovered that John E. Widdel Jr., a/k/a/ J.E. Widdel, a/k/a/ Jack Widdel, previously had an interest in the real property described herein, which real property may be pursued to satisfy the attached Judgment.
"This affidavit is to make it known to the public that the following real property may be subject to future legal proceedings regarding said Judgment:
Lot Eight (8), Block Thirty-three (33), Original Townsite to the City of Grand Forks, according to the Official Plat thereof and on file within the office of the ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.