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Dwyer v. Sell, et al.

Docket No. 20200188
Oral Argument: Thursday, April 8, 2021 10:45 AM

Docket Info

Title
Timothy S. Dwyer, a/k/a Tim Dwyer, Jr., Plaintiff, Appellant,
and Cross-Appellee
v.
Margret Sell, Co-Trustee of the Tim
Dwyer Farm Trust; John Dwyer,
Co-Trustee of the Tim Dwyer Farm Trust;
Jane Dwyer Morgan; Barbara Dwyer Rice;
Peggy Dwyer Sell a/k/a Margret Sell;
John W. Dwyer a/k/a John Dwyer, Defendants, Appellees,
and Cross-Appellants
and
Patrick Sell; Johnny Dwyer; Molly Binger;
Olin Sell; Dana Dwyer; Ingrid Kalinowski
a/k/a Ingrid A. Sell; Andy Dwyer;
Jack Dwyer; Rachel Meuchel; Dan Dwyer;
Tommy Dwyer; Joey Dwyer; Sadie Bro, Defendants and Appellees
and
Ruth Dwyer Coleman; Michael A. Dwyer;
Sarah Grossman; Johnny Coleman;
Sam Coleman; Josh Dwyer; Katie Montplaisir;
Anne Dwyer; Billy Morgan; Katie Joraanstad;
Mike Morgan; Judah Coleman; Beky Olson; Will Rice;
Janna Schmidt; Paul Rice; Charles Coleman;
David Morgan; Taylor Dwyer; Tessa Dwyer;
Teddi Dwyer; Tianna Dwyer, Defendants
Case Type
CIVIL APPEAL : REAL PROPERTY
Appeal From
Case No. 2019-CV-00245
Northwest Judicial District, McKenzie County
Daniel Saleh El-Dweek
Oral Argument 4/8/2021

Parties' Statement of Issues

  • Appellant

    I. Where instructions to sell land by a contract for deed are incomplete and ambiguous, the district court erred in declaring any land purchased by Tim
    Dwyer, Jr., or any other family member from the Tim Dwyer Farm Trust must be under the terms of a contract for deed without any right of prepayment.
    A. The language of a contract should be interpreted most strongly against the party who caused the uncertainty to exist.
    B. Where a contract for deed is silent on a right to prepay, any attempted
    prohibition on prepayment would be void as a restraint on alienation under
    N.D.C.C. §47-02-26.
    II. The district court erred in declaring the reservation of rights under Article IX of the Tim Dwyer Farm Trust Agreement in favor of the Dwyer descendants for access for hunting is invalid as a matter of law and, further, that portion of the Judgment declaring recreational activities could not be severed under this same statute was erroneous.
    III. The district court erred in declaring under Article VII of the Revocable Living Trust Agreement the Trustees have the discretionary authority to offer for sale less than all of the Trust property to Tim Dwyer, Jr. and the further authority to withdraw all or some of the real property from any proposed sale if the appraised valuations do not meet their expectations.

  • Appellee 1

    Issues of Margret Sell, et al.:
    1. Is the Trust Agreement plain, unambiguous and enforceable as written?
    2. Do the Co-Trustees have the right to sell or retain Trust property?
    3. Is prepayment of the contract for deed prohibited?
    4. Is assignment of rights personal to a beneficiary prohibited?
    5. Is the prohibition of assignment and prepayment a prohibited restraint on alienation?
    6. Are the appraisals valid?
    7. Is the access granted for hunting, hiking and outdoor recreational activities valid?

  • Appellee 2

    Issues of Ingrid A. Sell:
    1. Should the district court’s grant of summary judgment be overturned or remanded, when there were no disputes of material facts and no textual ambiguities that have been properly raised, proven, or preserved for appeal?
    2. May the holder of a right of first offer nullify the plainly-worded requirements of an inter vivos trust, by unilaterally electing to accelerate the required installment payments, by usurping the trustees’ authority to select parcels to be offered for sale, or by assigning his right of first offer, when doing so would harm the legally cognizable interests of the residuary beneficiaries?

    Issues of Andy Dwyer, et al.:
    Whether the district court erred in concluding N.D.C.C. § 47-05-17 prohibits enforcement of the reservation of hunting and recreation rights in the Dwyer Trust Agreement.

    Issues of Morgan and Rice:
    [¶1] Whether the district court erred in declaring that any land purchased by Timothy
    S. Dwyer A/K/A Tim Dwyer, Jr. (“Tim Dwyer Jr.”) from the Tim Dwyer Farm Trust
    (“Trust Agreement”) must be under the terms of a contract for deed without a right of
    prepayment.
    1. Whether the district court erred in declaring that the Co-Trustees have the discretionary authority to offer for sale to Tim Dwyer Jr. less than all of the land.
    2. Whether the district court erred in declaring that the Co-Trustees have the discretionary authority to withdraw all or some of the real property from any proposed sale if the appraised valuations do not meet their expectations.
    3. Whether the district court should be reversed, and summary judgment granted in favor of Tim Dwyer Jr.
    4. Whether the provisions of the Trust Agreement relevant to the above issues are ambiguous, thereby requiring that the district court be reversed and that this case be remanded for discovery and an evidentiary trial to determine the intended meaning of the disputed provisions of Article VII of the Trust Agreement.


Summary

Tim Dwyer Jr. appeals after the district court rejected his claims against the trustees of the Tim Dwyer Farm Trust.

Tim Dwyer Sr. owned approximately 7,000 acres of real property in McKenzie County. In December 2004, Dwyer Sr. established the Tim Dwyer Farm Trust and conveyed the property to the Trust. Tim Dwyer Jr. had a continuing right to lease the farm and ranch land from the Trust as long as the Trust owned the property. Dwyer Jr. also had a first right to purchase Trust property if the trustees decided to sell the property. In 2018, the trustees believed it was in the Trust’s best interests to sell some of the property. The trustees informed Dwyer Jr. of their decision and acknowledged his right to purchase Trust property. Dwyer Jr. declined to exercise his right to purchase; however, disagreements arose over how much property the trustees could sell, the financing of a potential sale to Dwyer Jr., and the reservation of rights for outdoor recreational purposes. Dwyer Jr. sued the trustees, requesting the district court to interpret certain terms of the trust document and decide the parties’ dispute. After a hearing, the court concluded the trustees have broad discretion to sell some or all of the Trust property, if Dwyer Jr. purchases Trust property he must purchase by contract for deed, and state law prohibits the trustees from reserving hunting and recreation rights.

On appeal, Dwyer Jr. argues the district court’s decisions relating to the Trust were wrong.


Briefs

Filing Date Description
02/05/2021 APPELLANT BRIEF View
03/02/2021 APPELLEE BRIEF - INGRID SELL View
03/02/2021 APPELLEE BRIEF - MARGARET SELL, ET AL. View
03/04/2021 APPELLEE BRIEF - ANDY DWYER, ET AL. View
03/05/2021 APPELLEE BRIEF - JANE DWYER MORGAN & BARBARA DWYER RICE View
03/15/2021 REPLY BRIEF View

Counsel

Party Type Name
APPELLANT PRIVATE PRACTICE Seymour Robert Jordan - 07785
APPELLEE PRIVATE PRACTICE Craig E Johnson - 03670
APPELLEE PRIVATE PRACTICE James A. Lodoen - 04283
APPELLEE PRIVATE PRACTICE Joseph Michael Barnett - 07951
APPELLANT PRIVATE PRACTICE Dwight Carmen Eiken - 03297
APPELLEE PRIVATE PRACTICE Sean Thomas Foss - 06422
APPELLEE PRIVATE PRACTICE Not Licensed in ND - 00002
APPELLEE PRO SE Ingrid A. Sell
APPELLEE PRO SE Sadie Bro

(Note: Attachments may not be available for recently filed cases and/or confidential documents.)

Seq. # Filing Date Description Attachment
1 07/15/2020 NOTICE OF APPEAL : 07/15/2020
2 07/15/2020 ORDER FOR TRANSCRIPT
3 07/16/2020 CORRECTED NOTICE OF APPEAL
4 07/16/2020 CORRECTED ORDER FOR TRANSCRIPT : 07/20/2020
5 07/16/2020 Affidavit of Klay C. Ahrens in Support of Admission to Practice Pro Hac Vice
6 07/17/2020 Received $125 filing fee
7 07/20/2020 NOT. OF FILING NOT. OF APPEAL AND PROOF OF SERV.
8 07/20/2020 Notice served on Dwight C. Eiken, Craig E. Johnson, Lynn M. Mesteth, James A. Lodoen,
9 07/20/2020 Joseph M. Barnett, Klay C. Ahrens, Barbara Dwyer Rice, Sadie Bro,Sarah Grossman, Johnny Coleman,
10 07/20/2020 Ingrid Kalinowski, Sam Coleman, Josh Dwyer, Katie Montplaisir, Anne Dwyer, Billy Morgan,
11 07/20/2020 Katie Joraanstad, Mike Morgan, Judah Coleman, Beky Olson, Will Rice, Janna Schmidt,
12 07/20/2020 Paul Rice, Charles Coleman, David Morgan, Taylor Dwyer, Tessa Dwyer, Teddy Dwyer, & Tianna Dwyer
13 07/21/2020 NOTICE OF CROSS APPEAL (Margret Sell and John Dwyer)
14 07/21/2020 NOT. OF FILING NOT. OF CROSS-APPEAL AND PROOF OF SERV.
15 07/21/2020 Notice served on Dwight C. Eiken, Craig E. Johnson, Lynn M. Mesteth, James A. Lodoen,
16 07/21/2020 Joseph M. Barnett, Klay C. Ahrens, Barbara Dwyer Rice, Sadie Bro,Sarah Grossman, Johnny Coleman,
17 07/21/2020 Ingrid Kalinowski, Sam Coleman, Josh Dwyer, Katie Montplaisir, Anne Dwyer, Billy Morgan,
18 07/21/2020 Katie Joraanstad, Mike Morgan, Judah Coleman, Beky Olson, Will Rice, Janna Schmidt,
19 07/21/2020 Paul Rice, Charles Coleman, David Morgan, Taylor Dwyer, Tessa Dwyer, Teddy Dwyer, & Tianna Dwyer
20 07/27/2020 NOTICE OF CROSS APPEAL (Jane Dwyer Morgan and Barbara Dwyer Rice)
21 07/28/2020 NOT. OF FILING NOT. OF CROSS-APPEAL AND PROOF OF SERV.
22 07/28/2020 Notice served on Dwight C. Eiken, Craig E. Johnson, Lynn M. Mesteth, James A. Lodoen,
23 07/28/2020 Joseph M. Barnett, Klay C. Ahrens, Sadie Bro, Sarah Grossman, Johnny Coleman,
24 07/28/2020 Ingrid Kalinowski, Sam Coleman, Josh Dwyer, Katie Montplaisir, Anne Dwyer, Billy Morgan,
25 07/28/2020 Katie Joraanstad, Mike Morgan, Judah Coleman, Beky Olson, Will Rice, Janna Schmidt,
26 07/28/2020 Paul Rice, Charles Coleman, David Morgan, Taylor Dwyer, Tessa Dwyer, Teddy Dwyer, & Tianna Dwyer
27 07/30/2020 Notice served on Sean T. Foss
28 08/10/2020 MOTION FOR REMAND (sua sponte) - Granted : 08/10/2020
29 08/11/2020 ORDER OF REMAND
30 08/11/2020 Briefing Schedule Stayed
31 08/11/2020 Order of Remand Sent to Parties
32 09/10/2020 ELECTRONIC TRANSCRIPT DATED MARCH 6, 2020
33 09/10/2020 Certificate of Service for Transcript
34 10/19/2020 ELEC. RECORD ON APPEAL DATED OCTOBER 16, 2020 (ENTRY NOS.1-204)
35 10/29/2020 ELEC. SUPP. RECORD ON APPEAL DATED OCTOBER 28, 2020 (ENTRY NOS.205-210) (RE-FILED)
36 10/29/2020 AMENDED NOTICE OF APPEAL
37 10/29/2020 AMENDED ORDER FOR TRANSCRIPT : 11/04/2020
38 10/30/2020 NOT. OF FILING AMENDED NOT. OF APPEAL AND PROOF OF SERV.
39 10/30/2020 Notice Served on Dwight C. Eiken, Seymour R. Jordan, James A. Lodoen, Joseph M. Barnett,
40 10/30/2020 Klay C. Ahrens, Craig E. Johnson, Lynn M. Mesteth, Sean T. Foss, Sadie Bro, Tianna Dwyer,
41 10/30/2020 Sarah Grossman, Johnny Coleman, Ingrid Kalinowski, Sam Coleman, Josh Dwyer, Katie Montplaisir,
42 10/30/2020 Anne Dwyer, Billy Morgan, Katie Joraanstad, Mike Morgan, Judah Coleman, Beky Olson, Will Rice,
43 10/30/2020 Janna Schmidt, Paul Rice, Charles Coleman, David Morgan, Taylor Dwyer, Tessa Dwyer & Teddi Dwyer
44 11/05/2020 2ND ELEC. SUPP. RECORD ON APPEAL DATED NOVEMBER 4, 2020 (ENTRY NOS. 211 - 217)
45 12/22/2020 AMENDED NOTICE OF CROSS APPEAL (Jane Dwyer Morgan and Barbara Dwyer Rice)
46 12/23/2020 NOT. OF FILING AMENDED NOT. OF CROSS APPEAL AND PROOF OF SERV.
47 12/23/2020 Notice Served on Dwight C. Eiken, Seymour R. Jordan, James A. Lodoen, Joseph M. Barnett,
48 12/23/2020 Klay C. Ahrens, Craig E. Johnson, Lynn M. Mesteth, Sean T. Foss, Sadie Bro, Tianna Dwyer,
49 12/23/2020 Sarah Grossman, Johnny Coleman, Ingrid Kalinowski, Sam Coleman, Josh Dwyer, Katie Montplaisir,
50 12/23/2020 Anne Dwyer, Billy Morgan, Katie Joraanstad, Mike Morgan, Judah Coleman, Beky Olson, Will Rice,
51 12/23/2020 Janna Schmidt, Paul Rice, Charles Coleman, David Morgan, Taylor Dwyer, Tessa Dwyer & Teddi Dwyer
52 12/30/2020 ELECTRONIC TRANSCRIPT DATED AUGUST 18, 2020
53 12/30/2020 Certificate of Service for Transcript
54 12/31/2020 Rec'd am c.o.s. for tra
55 01/20/2021 3RD ELEC. SUPP. RECORD ON APPEAL DATED JANUARY 19, 2021 (ENTRY NOS.218-221)
56 02/05/2021 APPELLANT BRIEF View
57 02/05/2021 Oral Argument Request by Appellant
58 02/05/2021 APPELLANT APPENDIX
59 02/10/2021 Rec'd non-substantive corrections to ATB (TOC & TOA)
60 02/11/2021 Rec'd 5 copies of ATB from CSD
61 02/11/2021 Rec'd 4 copies of ATA from CSD
62 02/16/2021 Received payment for appellant's appendix overage (Receipt #28076)
63 03/02/2021 APPELLEE BRIEF - INGRID SELL View
64 03/02/2021 APPELLEE BRIEF - MARGARET SELL, ET AL. View
65 03/02/2021 Rec'd amended certificate of service for Appellee's Brief - Margaret Sell, et al.
66 03/04/2021 APPELLEE BRIEF - ANDY DWYER, ET AL. View
67 03/04/2021 Oral Argument Request by Appellee - A. Dwyer, et al.
68 03/04/2021 LETTER ON BEHALF OF MICHAEL A. DWYER AND RUTH COLEMAN View
69 03/05/2021 Rec'd corrected TOA page w/proof of service for AEB-Dwyer
70 03/05/2021 Rec'd 5 copies of AEB - Margaret Sell, et al. from Central Duplicating
71 03/05/2021 Rec'd 5 copies of AEB - Andy Dwyer, et al. from Central Duplicating
72 03/05/2021 APPELLEE BRIEF - JANE DWYER MORGAN & BARBARA DWYER RICE View
73 03/05/2021 Oral Argument Request by Appellee - JANE DWYER MORGAN & BARBARA DWYER RICE
74 03/08/2021 JOINDER WITH INGRID SELL - NOTICE OF SUPPORT OF APPELLEE SADIE BRO View
75 03/10/2021 Rec'd 5 copies of AEB - Morgan & Rice from Central Duplicating
76 03/12/2021 Rec'd 5 copies of AEB - Ingrid Sell from Central Duplicating
77 03/15/2021 REPLY BRIEF View
78 03/16/2021 Rec'd 5 copies of RYB from Central Duplicating
79 03/23/2021 NOTICE OF ORAL ARGUMENT SENT
80 04/02/2021 Supplemental Citation under N.D.R.App.P. 28(k) View
81 04/06/2021 STIPULATION FOR ALLOCATION OF TIME FOR ORAL ARGUMENT
82 04/06/2021 ACTION BY CLERK - Granted
83 04/08/2021 APPEARANCES: Dwight C. Eiken/Craig E. Johnson/Joseph M. Barnett/Klay C. Ahren/James A. Lodoen
84 04/08/2021 Sean T. Foss/Ingrid A. Sell
85 04/08/2021 ARGUED: Dwight C. Eiken/Craig E. Johnson/Klay C. Ahren/James A. Lodoen/Sean T. Foss/Ingrid A. Sell
86 04/08/2021 ORAL ARGUMENT WEBCAST