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Wood v. Diamonds Sports Bar & Grill

December 24, 2002

JOLANE WOOD, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS MOTHER AND NATURAL GUARDIAN OF H.R., J.A.R., AND M.A.B., RESPONDENT,
v.
DIAMONDS SPORTS BAR & GRILL, INC., APPELLANT.



Anoka County District Court File No. CX018651

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

The notice requirement for dram-shop claims is satisfied by service of a complaint that contains the information described in Minn. Stat. § 340A.802, subd. 1 (2002), within the time period provided by Minn. Stat. § 340A.802, subd. 2 (2002).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Willis, Judge

Affirmed; motion granted

Considered and decided by Minge, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Wright, Judge.

OPINION

Appellant, the defendant in a dram-shop action, challenges the district court's denial of summary judgment on the jurisdictional question of whether respondent complied with the notice requirement of Minn. Stat. § 340A.802 (2002) in making her claim for damages. We affirm.

FACTS

Respondent Jolane Wood's boyfriend was injured in an automobile accident after leaving appellant Diamonds Sports Bar & Grill (Diamonds), where he had been served and had consumed alcohol. Wood, who has since married the boyfriend, filed a dram-shop claim against Diamonds for loss of support and other civil damages under Minn. Stat. § 340A.801 (2002).

Dram-shop claims are subject to a notice requirement. Id. § 340A.802 (2002); May v. Strecker, 453 N.W.2d 549, 554 (Minn. App. 1990), review denied (Minn. June 15, 1990). Wood's attorney had to give written notice of certain facts surrounding the boyfriend's injuries within 240 days after entering into an attorney-client relationship for the purpose of bringing the dram-shop claim. See Minn. Stat. § 340A.802. The parties do not dispute that Wood's attorney in the dram-shop action served a summons and complaint on Diamonds, containing the information that the statute requires, within 240 days after entering into an attorney-client relationship with Wood. But after the accident and before she initiated the dram-shop claim, Wood had retained another attorney for the purpose of filing for bankruptcy, and the bankruptcy attorney provided no written notice of a dram-shop claim to Diamonds.

Diamonds brought a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the district court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction because Wood failed to comply with the notice requirement (1) by not serving notice within 240 days after entering into an attorney-client relationship with the bankruptcy attorney and (2) by not serving notice before serving the complaint. The district court denied summary judgment, concluding that (1) Diamonds did not establish as a matter of law that the bankruptcy attorney represented Wood for purposes of the dram-shop claim, (2) service of a complaint that meets the criteria described in section 340A.802 could satisfy the notice requirement, and (3) Wood substantially complied with the notice requirement. Having denied Diamonds' motion on other grounds, the district court did not address Wood's argument that Diamonds had actual notice of the dram-shop claim. Diamonds now appeals.

ISSUES

I. Is the issue of whether Wood's bankruptcy attorney should have provided notice of the dram-shop claim to Diamonds properly before this court?

II. Can a plaintiff satisfy the notice requirement for a dram-shop claim by serving a complaint that contains the information described in Minn. Stat. ยง 340A.802, subd. 1 (2002), within the time period ...


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