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In re Welfare of M.R.H.

June 13, 2006

IN THE MATTER OF THE WELFARE OF: M.R.H.


SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

The depletion of accrued employment leave can be a compensable economic loss recoverable through restitution.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ross, Judge Washington County District Court File Nos. 82-16144y & J5-02-051546.

Affirmed

Considered and decided by Chief Judge Toussaint, Presiding Judge; Ross, Judge; and Minge, Judge.

OPINION

ROSS, Judge

Appellant M.R.H. is an adjudicated delinquent who challenges the district court's order for restitution, arguing that the restitution impermissibly duplicates damages that M.R.H. paid in a civil settlement and is based on losses known to the victims at sentencing. M.R.H. also challenges the portion of the restitution that compensates one of the victims for the value of accrued employment leave that the victim expended to tend to a different, hospitalized victim of M.R.H.'s delinquent conduct. We affirm.

FACTS

A dispute about a fireworks incident escalated into an argument between appellant M.R.H. and Benjamin Kloos on June 28, 2002. M.R.H. punched Kloos in the face. Kloos fell backwards, dashing the back of his head on the pavement. The sudden impact fractured Kloos's skull, requiring emergency brain surgery and three weeks' hospitalization. During this period Kloos underwent additional surgery to replace a portion of his skull and spent ten days in a medically induced coma. Benjamin Kloos's parents spent considerable time tending to him throughout his treatment and recovery. This required them to be away from work, so Benjamin's father, Michael Kloos, expended "flex leave" and "comp leave" that he had accrued through his employment.

The state filed a delinquency petition charging M.R.H. with first-degree assault, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.221, subd. 1 (2000). He pleaded guilty and the district court adjudicated him delinquent. The court imposed a 48-month stayed sentence of incarceration, placed M.R.H. on probation, and ordered M.R.H. to pay restitution to Benjamin Kloos and his family for expenses they incurred as a result of the assault. The district court noted that the Kloos family had submitted a restitution affidavit claiming $21,619.97 of expenses not covered by insurance, and, apparently relying on Minnesota Statute section 611A.04, subdivision 1, the district court commented that restitution is limited to out-of-pocket expenses and losses, "not includ[ing] any other types of damages that the Kloos family could pursue in a civil action." Because the Klooses' restitution request had not yet been investigated, the district court reserved deciding the restitution amount.

Benjamin Kloos served a civil lawsuit against M.R.H. and against M.R.H.'s parents in April 2003, alleging that M.R.H. was liable for damages from the assault and that his parents were liable as M.R.H.'s guardians under Minnesota Statutes section 540.18. On September 12, 2004, Benjamin Kloos settled his lawsuit for $50,000, and he released M.R.H. and M.R.H.'s parents from all claims arising from the assault.

Benjamin Kloos's parents, Michael and Lori Kloos, however, were parties neither to the lawsuit nor to the settlement agreement. Michael and Lori Kloos submitted a restitution request for $21,800.21 in December 2004. They attached a list of losses almost identical to those they originally requested in 2002, including the value of Michael Kloos's lost wages. M.R.H. contested the propriety of restitution and the amount requested. The district court ordered M.R.H. to pay Michael and Lori Kloos $10,663.49 in restitution. M.R.H. appeals that order.

ISSUE

Did the district court abuse its discretion by ordering M.R.H. to pay ...


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