from the District Court of Williams County, Northwest
Judicial District, the Honorable Kirsten Marie Sjue, Judge.
Kaitlin A. DeCrescente (argued) and H. Malcolm Pippin (on
brief), Williston, ND, for plaintiff and appellee.
Larson (argued), Minot, ND, for defendant and appellant.
1] Brittany Creech appeals a judgment evicting her from
property in Williams County owned by Louis Tornabeni. Creech
asserts Tornabeni's notice of intent to evict was
deficient, the summary eviction proceeding violated her right
to due process, the district court abused its discretion in
excluding certain exhibits, the court's findings of fact
were clearly erroneous, and the delivery of the deed was
defective and prevented Tornabeni from obtaining ownership of
the property. We affirm.
2] On April 1, 2016, Creech executed a deed conveying the
subject property to Tornabeni. Tornabeni recorded the deed
with the Williams County Recorder on June 2, 2016. At the
time of the conveyance and subsequent to the conveyance to
Tornabeni, Creech resided at the property without a lease and
without any payment obligation.
3] On October 6, 2017, Tornabeni served Creech with a notice
of intent to evict as required by N.D.C.C. § 47-32-02.
The notice stated the intended eviction was the result of
Creech's "failure to pay rent and failure to vacate
possession of the premises after request by the property
4] Creech failed to vacate the property as requested in the
notice of intent to evict. On October 18, 2017, Tornabeni
served a summons and complaint to forcibly remove Creech from
the property. The district court scheduled a November 1, 2017
eviction hearing, satisfying the requirement under N.D.C.C.
§ 47-32-02 that a hearing be set no fewer than three
days or more than 15 days after service of the summons.
5] Both parties appeared at the November 1, 2017 hearing.
After approximately an hour and five minutes, the district
court continued the hearing until November 6, 2017. The
primary point of contention between the parties during the
hearing was Creech's assertion her signature on the April
1, 2016 deed was forged and Tornabeni was not the owner of
6] Creech attempted to introduce as an exhibit her vehicle
registration cards during the cross-examination of
Tornabeni's witness, Brenon Andreasen. Following a
foundation objection by Tornabeni's counsel, the district
court provided Creech the following guidance:
[Y]ou'll have to lay a bit of foundation here before I
can rule on whether these should be admitted. What are these
purport[ed] to show? And you're going to have to ask
questions of this witness if you believe he has some kind of
knowledge of this.
7] After additional cross-examination of Andreasen by Creech,
the district court provided additional instruction to Creech:
"If you want to lay foundation for this through your own
testimony, you'll have to do that. But this witness
didn't. Those documents weren't admitted."
Creech did not attempt to reintroduce the exhibit.
8] Creech also sought to introduce an eviction notice from
earlier proceedings in which Creech sought to evict Tornabeni
from the property when Creech was the owner. She offered the
notice during her cross-examination of Andreasen. Tornabeni
objected, asserting it was not relevant to the present
proceedings and that Andreasen could not provide the required
foundation for the exhibit. The district court again advised
Creech she needed to lay the foundation for the document
through Andreasen as a witness. The court suggested Creech
may need to lay the foundation through her own testimony.
Creech never attempted to re-introduce the eviction notice.
9] In response to Creech's assertion that she owned the
property because Tornabeni forged her signature on the April
1, 2016 deed, Tornabeni called as a witness James Duffy, the
notary identified on the deed. Duffy testified he would not
have applied his notary stamp or signed the deed if it was
not signed by both parties in front of him. Andreasen also
testified he saw Creech sign the deed. Terry Bendixson,
Williams County Chief Deputy ...