Rocky Mountain Steel Foundations, Inc., Plaintiff and Appellant
Brockett Company, LLC; Amber Brockett, Defendants and Mitchell's Oilfield Services, Inc., aka Wood Group; and Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America, Defendants and Appellees
from the District Court of McKenzie County, Northwest
Judicial District, the Honorable Robin Ann Schmidt, Judge.
L. Rummel (argued) and Monte L. Rogneby (appeared), Bismarck,
ND, for plaintiff and appellant.
Nicholas C. Grant (argued) and Allison R. Mann (on brief),
Dickinson, ND, for defendants and appellees.
VandeWalle, Chief Justice.
Rocky Mountain Steel Foundations, Inc. appealed from an
amended judgment ordering Mitchell's Oil Field Services,
Inc. and Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America
(collectively "Mitchell's") to pay Rocky
Mountain attorney's fees. Rocky Mountain argues the
district court erred by failing to award it all of the
attorney's fees it requested. We affirm the portion of
the judgment awarding Rocky Mountain attorney's fees
incurred before the prior appeal, but reverse the portion of
the judgment denying the attorney's fees Rocky Mountain
requested for the prior appeal and on remand. We remand for
the court to properly determine a reasonable amount of
attorney's fees consistent with this opinion.
In 2014, Rocky Mountain recorded two oil and gas construction
liens. Mitchell's recorded lien release bonds and the
liens were attached to the bonds. The bonds replaced the oil
wells as security for the liens. Rocky Mountain filed to
foreclose on the liens.
We previously reviewed a district court judgment invalidating
Rocky Mountain's oil and gas construction liens and
awarding attorney's fees to Mitchell's. See Rocky
Mountain Steel Founds., Inc. v. Brockett Co., LLC, 2018
ND 96, ¶ 1, 909 N.W.2d 671. We stated the underlying
facts in the prior appeal, and we will not repeat them here
except as necessary to resolve the issues raised in the
present appeal. Id. at ¶¶ 2-4. On review,
we concluded the district court erred in interpreting
statutory law to invalidate the liens and by awarding
Mitchell's attorney's fees. Id. at ¶ 1.
We reversed the judgment and remanded for proceedings
consistent with our opinion and a proper award of
attorney's fees. Id. at ¶ 14.
On remand, Rocky Mountain moved for attorney's fees,
arguing it was entitled to attorney's fees as the
prevailing party in a lien foreclosure action under N.D.C.C.
§§ 35-24-19 and 35-24-13(5). Rocky Mountain
requested $49, 554 for attorney's fees incurred prior to
the appeal, $11, 831 for the appeal, and $9, 260.50 for the
fees incurred on remand. Mitchell's opposed the motion,
arguing Rocky Mountain was not entitled to all of the
attorney's fees it requested.
The district court found Rocky Mountain was entitled to $19,
025 for the work it did to pursue the lien claims. The court
found it would not award any attorney's fees for the
appeal because the remand did not indicate the court was to
award a proper amount of appellate attorney's fees and
the court believed it was proper for both parties to incur
the expense of the appeal on their own. Amended judgment was
Rocky Mountain argues the district court erred by failing to
award Rocky Mountain all of the attorney's fees it
requested. Rocky Mountain contends it was entitled to the
requested fees under N.D.C.C. §§ 35-24-19 and
A district court's decision on attorney's fees is
reviewed under the abuse of discretion standard. Lincoln
Land Dev., LLP v. City of Lincoln, 2019 ND 81, ¶
20, 924 N.W.2d 426. A court abuses its discretion when it
acts in an arbitrary, unreasonable, or unconscionable manner,
it misinterprets or misapplies the law, or when its ...