Stearns County District Court File No. 73-CV-07-4492
SYLLABUS 1. When a jury apportions fault to multiple tortfeasors, a district court may reallocate the uncollectible amount allocated to a non-defendant tortfeasor pursuant to the comparative-fault statute, Minn. Stat. § 604.02, subd. 2 (2012), following a motion for reallocation and a finding of uncollectibility. 2. When a district court reallocates a portion of a jury verdict from a non-defendant tortfeasor, the plaintiff is entitled to post-verdict interest on that portion from the date of the district court's reallocation order.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kalitowski, Judge
Concurring in part, dissenting in part, Schellhas, Judge
Considered and decided by Worke, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Schellhas, Judge.
This is the second time this negligence dispute has been before this court. Here, we are presented with the question of how to apply the reallocation provision of Minn. Stat. § 604.02 (2012). Appellant Diocese of St. Cloud (the diocese) challenges the district court's order reallocating the portion of a jury verdict attributing fault to Richard Staab, who was not a party to the litigation. Respondent Alice Staab challenges the district court's decision to award post-verdict interest from the date of the reallocation order rather than the date of the verdict.
In 2005, Alice and Richard Staab attended an event at the Holy Cross Parish School of the diocese. Alice Staab broke her leg and sustained other injuries after falling out of a wheelchair pushed by her husband, Richard Staab. The fall occurred as Richard Staab pushed the wheelchair through a doorway that opened to a five-inch drop.
Alice Staab initiated a personal injury action against the diocese. Alice Staab did not sue Richard Staab, and the diocese did not seek to add him as a third-party defendant. The case was tried to a jury. Although Richard Staab was not a party to the suit, the diocese requested that the special verdict form include him as a potentially at-fault party. The jury found the diocese and Richard Staab each 50% negligent and awarded total damages of $224,200.70.
The district court initially concluded that the diocese was required to pay the entire award because Richard Staab was not a party to the litigation. The diocese appealed, and we reversed. See Staab v. Diocese of St. Cloud, 780 N.W.2d 392 (Minn. App. 2010) (Staab I). The Minnesota Supreme Court granted review and affirmed our decision. See Staab v. Diocese of St. Cloud, 813 N.W.2d 68 (Minn. 2012) (Staab II). The supreme court remanded for entry of judgment consistent with its conclusion that Minn. Stat. § 604.02, subd. 1, applies when a jury apportions fault between a defendant and a nonparty tortfeasor to limit the amount the defendant must pay to the share of fault assigned to the defendant by the jury. Id. at 80.
On remand, the district court granted Alice Staab's motion for reallocation under Minn. Stat. § 604.02, subd. 2, after finding that Richard Staab's share of the obligation was uncollectible. The district court entered a judgment against the diocese for the entire jury award, plus costs and interest, less amounts already paid. The diocese appeals that judgment.
The district court subsequently entered an amended judgment, re-calculating the amount owed in light of amounts already paid by the diocese. It also awarded interest on the judgment from August 7, 2012 (the date of the order granting reallocation), rejecting Alice Staab's proposed date of March 25, 2009 (the date of the jury verdict). Alice Staab appeals the district court's calculation of interest.
1. Did the district court err by reallocating Richard Staab's portion of the jury verdict to the diocese under ...