Mills v. City of Grand Forks

20110193 Bruce Roger Mills, individually
and on behalf of those similarly
situated, Plaintiff, Appellant
and Cross-Appellee
v.
City of Grand Forks, Defendant, Appellee
and Cross-Appellant

Appeal from: District Court, Northeast Central Judicial District, Grand Forks County
Judge Joel D. Medd
Nature of Action: Other (Civil)
Counsel:
Appellant: Jonathan T. Garaas
Appellee: Randall Joseph Bakke
Appellee: Shawn Arlin Grinolds
Term: 12/2011   Argument: 12/19/2011  9:30am
ND cite: 2012 ND 56
NW cite: 813 N.W.2d 574

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Issues: Appellant's Statement of the Issues:
1. Is Mills' state lawsuit for money had and received, based upon an excessive traffic fine, barred by a state court's judgment that imposes a fine that exceeds its statutory jurisdictional limits?
2. Does a citizen have the right to collaterally attack a state court's judgment that imposes a fine that exceeds a sentencing court's statutorily imposed limits?
3. When federal courts determine that a federal court cannot exercise federal question jurisdiction over Mills' federal claims against the City of Grand Forks because the federal claims "lack merit', does the federal court lack supplemental [or subject matter] jurisdiction over Mills' claims based on state laws?
4. If a federal court lacks supplemental jurisdiction [subject matter jurisdiction over state claims], can res judicata bar a state action after a federal action is dismissed?
5. Is Mills' claim for money had and received arising out of claim of ownership of, or entitlement to, the amount received by the City of Grand Forks the identical issue to any issue determined by the federal courts?

REPLY BRIEF ISSUES
Bruce Roger Mills [hereinafter "MILLS"] does not believe that the five issues he presents "misstates the issues properly before this Court" as alleged by the City of Grand Forks [hereinafter "CITY"] in 1 of its brief.
MILLS' first two issues recognize that MILLS appeals from a dismissed action that was a collateral attack on a state court judgment imposing a traffic fine that exceeded statutory limits. MILLS' right to collaterally attack a state court judgment imposing a fine in excess of statutory authority is clearly at issue. MILLS properly frames the issues relating to the res judicata effect of the prior state court judgment.
CITY'S Issue #2 concerning the res judicata/collateral estoppel effect of MILLS' prior federal lawsuit against it misinterprets the federal courts' prior determinations. The CITY mistakenly asserts two federal courts "determined in prior litigation between the parties traffic fines collected by City in excess of fines under state law ... were not illegal.." prior to the decision in Sauby vs. City of Fargo, 2008 ND 60, 747 N.W.2d 65. The federal appellate court determined that MILLS' federal pleadings failed to "allege facts establishing that the City's conduct, even if in violation of state law, can be characterized as `truly irrational.'" Mills, individually and on behalf of those similarly situated v. City of Grand Forks, 614 F.3d 495, 500 (8th Cir. 2010). Part of the appellate court's reasoning that the CITY'S conduct was not "truly irrational" was its determination that there was no binding judicial precedent, and therefore it determined that " the City did not clearly violate state law when it fined Mills." Id, at page 501. This judicial observation is not the equivalent of saying the CITY'S conduct was "not illegal" prior to this Court's decision in Sauby vs. City of Fargo. Neither appellate courts, nor trial courts, make laws under our three branch system [federal or state]. State ex rel. Spaeth v. Meiers, 403 N.W.2d 392, 394 (N.D. 1987); Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919, 951 (1983).
The CITY'S misunderstanding of the federal courts' determinations is reflected in its third issue. Both federal courts determined that MILLS' complaint did not present a federal claim. Because MILLS failed to present a federal claim in his prior federal lawsuit against the CITY, the federal district court did not have jurisdiction over any of MILLS' state law based claims. MILLS' Issue #4 properly frames the issue as to the res judicata effect of the prior federal decisions; MILLS' brief shows why the legal doctrine has no application.
The CITY'S Issues #1 and #3 misstate the issue of collateral estoppel. The CITY'S stated issues mistakenly suggest that collateral estoppel can be applied merely because MILLS "could have raised them" in prior state or federal court litigation. Collateral estoppel does not apply just because an issue "could have" been raised. To properly apply the doctrine of collateral estoppel to an issue of fact or law, the issues "were, or by logical and necessary implication must have been, litigated and determined in the prior suit." Hofsommer v. Hofsommer Excavating, Inc., 488 N.W.2d 380, 383 (N.D. 1989). MILLS' Issue #5 properly frames any issue the CITY raises in its brief concerning its misguided reliance upon the doctrine of collateral estoppel.

Appellee's Statement of the Issues:
(1.) Mills' asserted issues on appeal contain legal conclusions and misstate the issues properly before this Court relative to Mills' appeal and City's cross-appeal. Following are the issues properly before this Court for review. 1. Whether Mill's claims are barred by res judicata and/or collateral estoppel on the basis Mills could have raised them during prior state court legal proceedings, but failed to do so.
2. Whether Mill's claims are barred by res judicata and/or collateral estoppel on the basis the District Court for the District of North Dakota, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, determined in prior litigation between the parties traffic fines collected by City in excess of fines allowed under state law for similar offenses prior to the North Dakota Supreme Court's decision in Sauby v. City of Fargo, 2008 ND 60, 747 N.W.2d 65, were not illegal due to City's justifiable reliance upon opinions of the North Dakota Attorney General, dispositive of the legal issue upon which Mills' claims are premised.
3. Whether Mills' claims are barred by res judicata and/or collateral estoppel on the basis Mills' could have raised them during prior litigation between the parties in federal court, but failed to do so.

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Docket entries:
106/30/2011 NOTICE OF APPEAL: 06/28/2011
206/30/2011 ORDER FOR TRANSCRIPT: 06/28/2011
307/08/2011 NOTICE OF CROSS APPEAL (filed in trial court on 7-8-11)
407/28/2011 ELECTRONIC RECORD ON APPEAL (ENTRY NOS. 1-31).
508/17/2011 TRANSCRIPT DATED DECEMBER 16, 2010, & C.O.S.
608/17/2011 DISK-TRA (12/16/10) E-MAILED
709/22/2011 APPELLANT BRIEF & ADDENDUM
809/22/2011 APPELLANT APPENDIX
909/22/2011 DISK - ATB (floppy disk)
1010/21/2011 APPELLEE BRIEF (e-filed)
1110/21/2011 E-FILED BRIEF (AEB)
1210/24/2011 Received $25 surcharge for AEB (Receipt #20725)
1310/25/2011 Received 7 copies of AEB from CSD
1411/02/2011 REPLY BRIEF OF APPELLANT (Mills)
1511/03/2011 DISK-RYB OF APPELLANT
1611/16/2011 NOTICE OF ORAL ARGUMENT SENT
1711/18/2011 REPLY BRIEF (City of Grand Forks)
1811/18/2011 E-FILED BRIEF - RYB (City of Grand Forks)
1911/18/2011 Received 7 copies of RYB from CSD
2012/19/2011 APPEARANCES: Jonathan Garaas/Randall Bakke
2112/19/2011 ARGUED: Garaas/Bakke
2212/19/2011 ORAL ARGUMENT WEBCAST
2303/15/2012 DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED
2403/15/2012 UNANIMOUS OPINION: Crothers, Daniel John
2503/16/2012 Judgment Sent to Parties
2603/27/2012 PETITION FOR REHEARING
2703/28/2012 DISK - PER
2804/10/2012 ACTION BY SUPREME COURT. denied
2905/03/2012 MANDATE
3005/08/2012 RECEIPT SIGNED BY DISTRICT COURT CLERK'S OFFICE

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