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Wick v. Wick

October 22, 2003

GERALD WICK, PETITIONER, RESPONDENT,
v.
RAJEANA WICK, N/K/A RAJEANA L. WICK-WILLIAMS, RESPONDENT, AND VICTORIA L. RIDGE, THIRD PARTY RESPONDENT, APPELLANT, HENNEPIN COUNTY CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT, INTERVENOR, RESPONDENT.



Willis, Judge Hennepin County District Court File No. SP 158725

Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Shumaker, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. A plaintiff must invoke the district court's personal jurisdiction over a defendant by a method (1) that is consistent with due process and (2) that complies with those portions of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure that govern the commencement of civil actions and the service of process.

2. Neither Minn. Stat. §á518.6111 (2002) nor Minn. Stat. §á518.615 (2002) provides a basis for the exercise of personal jurisdiction by the district court for purposes beyond the pursuit of a contempt proceeding under Minn. Stat. §á518.615, subd. 2.

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

Reversed

OPINION

Respondent-intervenor attempted to commence a civil action against appellant by serving on her a motion to join her as a party to a post-dissolution-decree proceeding. Appellant moved to dismiss, arguing that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over her because she had not been served with a summons and complaint. The district court denied appellant's motion. Because we conclude that respondent-intervenor did not properly invoke the district court's jurisdiction over appellant, we reverse.

FACTS

Gerald Wick and Rajeana Wick-Williams dissolved their marriage in 1985. The dissolution judgment directed Wick to pay monthly child support for the couple's four children. Wick stopped making child-support payments in 1989. There have been extensive proceedings since 1989 regarding Wick's failure to satisfy his child-support obligation, but we will summarize only the most pertinent here.

At the time of the dissolution, Wick, individually or through a corporation in which he had an interest, either owned or was in the process of buying parcels of real estate in St. Louis County on which the corporation operated a hay business. The dissolution judgment awarded both the real estate and the marital homestead to Wick.

In 1988, Wick conveyed all but 5% of his interest in the corporation to his brother, although Wick continued to run the hay business. There was a mortgage on most of the real estate that was awarded to Wick, and the mortgage was foreclosed on at some time before 1992, when appellant Victoria Ridge, Wick's girlfriend, purchased the real estate at a sheriff's sale.

At some time before July 1993, respondent Hennepin County Child Support Enforcement ("the county") intervened to recover from Wick the amount of public assistance that it had provided to Wick-Williams. In motions heard by the district court in July 1993, the county asked the court to (1) increase Wick's child-support obligation from $169 per month, (2) hold Wick in contempt of court for failure to pay child support, and (3)ágrant the county a judgment in the amount of the public assistance that it had provided to Wick-Williams. The county appears to have argued that Wick fraudulently conveyed to Ridge the real estate that the dissolution judgment had awarded to him and that he arranged to receive only $400 in gross monthly wages from the corporation so that he could claim that he was unable to pay his monthly child-support obligation. In a February 1994 order, the district court found that the county had not shown either that the arrangement under which Wick received $400 in gross monthly wages was fraudulent or that Ridge's purchase of the real estate was fraudulent. The district court thus denied the county's motions to increase Wick's child-support obligation and for a judgment for the amount of public assistance, though the court concluded that Wick was in contempt of court for his failure to pay his then-existing support obligation.

In July 2001, the district court heard Wick-Williams's motion to find Wick again in contempt for failure to pay child-support arrears, which by then were more than $50,000. In an August 2001 order, the district court found that (1) Ridge had assumed ownership of the corporation operating as "Wick's Hay," (2) the marital homestead had been foreclosed on and purchased by Ridge, and (3) Ridge routinely paid all of Wick's "living expenses and personal needs." Also, the court found that Wick conveyed the corporation and homestead to Ridge in a "sham transaction" to avoid paying the child-support arrears and that Wick was "the ...


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