United States District Court, D. Minnesota
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. Magnuson United States District Court Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss. For the following reasons, the Motion is
2010, Plaintiff James Dooner, a resident of Minnesota, met
Defendant Pui Yuen in Las Vegas. A year later, Yuen moved to
Minnesota to live with Dooner, but the two did not get
married. (Compl. ¶ 6.)
December 2012, Dooner added Yuen as a joint owner to an
account at BMO Harris. (Id. ¶ 7.) Yuen claims
that she and Dooner opened the account
together. (Yuen Decl. ¶ 6.) Dooner deposited
money into the account and contends that Yuen did not deposit
any money into the account. (Compl. ¶ 8.) In January
2013, the couple ended their romantic relationship.
(Id. ¶ 9.) Yuen asserts that they remained
romantically involved until the fall of 2013, and maintained
a friendship and a business relationship until 2016. (Yuen
Decl. ¶¶ 10-11.)
January 31, 2013, Yuen wired $298, 000 out of the account.
(Compl. ¶ 10.) Dooner claims that he did not authorize
Yuen to make the withdrawal. (Id.) In November 2013,
Dooner began giving Yuen a monthly support check, although
she had moved back to Las Vegas at the time. (Id.
¶ 13.) In June 2014, Dooner signed a document Yuen
drafted that required him to continue to send her monthly
financial support. (Id. ¶¶ 16-17, Ex. B.)
Dooner sent Yuen money through the end of 2015. (Id.
contends that he did not object to the January 2013 funds
withdrawal because Yuen's name was on the account. Only
after Yuen threatened to sue him for failing to provide her
with half the proceeds from a sale of property in Minnesota
did Dooner bring this lawsuit, claiming that Yuen's
withdrawal of the money constituted conversion, civil theft,
and unjust enrichment. He also sought a declaratory judgment
that the document requiring him to pay Yuen monthly financial
support is not an enforceable contract.
counterclaimed for breach of contract, promissory estoppel,
unjust enrichment, palimony, and a declaratory judgment that
the document is an enforceable contract. (Docket No. 7.)
Dooner moved to dismiss the counterclaims, and in October
2016, Judge Richard H. Kyle determined that there was no
consideration for the alleged contract and that Yuen's
other claims failed as a result. Judge Kyle granted
Dooner's motion to dismiss Yuen's counterclaims.
(Docket No. 16.) Yuen relies heavily on the alleged contract
in her arguments here, but there is no contract-Judge Kyle
determined that it was unenforceable and that determination
is law of the case.
now seeks a dismissal of Dooner's Complaint, contending
that because she was a joint owner of the BMO Harris account,
she was entitled to withdraw whatever funds she chose.
evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) or for
judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c), the Court assumes
the facts in the Complaint to be true and construes all
reasonable inferences from those facts in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Morton v. Becker,
793 F.2d 185, 187 (8th Cir. 1986); see also Westcott v.
City of Omaha, 901 F.2d 1486, 1488 (8th Cir. 1990)
(“[W]e review this 12(c) motion under the standard that
governs 12(b)(6) motions.”). The Court need not accept
as true wholly conclusory allegations, Hanten v. Sch.
Dist. of Riverview Gardens, 183 F.3d 799, 805 (8th Cir.
1999), or legal conclusions that the plaintiff draws from the
facts pled. Westcott, 901 F.2d at 1488.
Dooner does not dispute that Yuen had joint ownership over
the BMO Harris account and could withdraw money at any time.
But “[t]he right to withdraw and the right of ownership
. . . are separate and distinct rights.” Shourek v.
Stirling, 621 N.E.2d 1107, 1110 (Ind. 1993). Thus,
merely because Yuen could withdraw money does not mean that
she owned the money.
has adopted the uniform Multi-Party Accounts Act, Minn. Stat.
§§ 524.6-201 et seq. Although Yuen contends that
the MPAA applies only in probate situations-it is known as
the “Poor Man's Will, ” Savig v. First
Nat'l Bank of Omaha, No. 09cv132, 2009 WL 1955476,
at *6 (D. Minn. July 6, 2009) (Ericksen, J.)-the MPAA does
not limit its reach solely to probate. Rather, the statute
provides that a “joint account belongs, during the
lifetime of all parties, to the parties in proportion to the
net contributions by each to the sums on deposit, unless
there is clear and convincing evidence of a different
intent.” Minn. Stat. § 524.6-203. Only when one of
the parties to the joint account dies does ownership of the
funds revert to the surviving joint owner. Id.
§ 526.204. Thus, the Minnesota Supreme Court has
determined that a creditor cannot garnish funds in a joint
account that were contributed by an individual not subject to
the garnishment order. Enright v. Lehmann, 735
N.W.2d 326 (Minn. 2007).
claims that the MPAA gives her the authority to exercise
ownership over the funds because it provides that the
MPAA's provisions “concerning beneficial ownership
as between parties . . . are relevant only to controversies
between these persons and their creditors and other
successors, and have no bearing on the power of withdrawal of
these persons as determined by the terms of account
contracts.” Minn. Stat. § 524.6-202. She points to
an FDIC document stating that “[a]ll co-owners must
have equal rights to withdraw deposits from the
accounts” (Yuen Decl. Ex. 5), and to an FDIC
publication stating that ...