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T.G.G. v. H.E.S.

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

June 24, 2019

T. G. G., Appellant,
v.
H. E. S., Respondent, A. F. K. and N. D. K., intervenors, Respondents.

          Isanti County District Court File No. 30-FA-18-74

          Kay Nord Hunt, Michelle K. Kuhl, Lommen Abdo, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota; and John J. Neal, Willenbring, Dahl, Wocken & Zimmerman, PLLC, Cold Spring, Minnesota (for appellant)

          Jody Ollyver DeSmidt, DeSmidt Rabuse PLLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent H.E.S.)

          Mark D. Fiddler, Fiddler Osband, LLC, Edina, Minnesota (for intervenors A.F.K. and N.D.K.)

          Considered and decided by Hooten, Presiding Judge; Reyes, Judge; and Kirk, Judge. [*]

         SYLLABUS

I. The grant of a temporary restraining order does not constitute a "judicial hearing" for the purpose of determining the timeliness of a revocation of a recognition of parentage under Minn. Stat. § 257.75, subd. 2 (2018).
II. Minn. Stat. § 259.52, subd. 8(1) (2018), which prohibits a putative father who does not qualify for a statutory exception and did not timely register with the Minnesota Father's Adoption Registry from "maintaining" an ongoing paternity action once an adoption proceeding is commenced, does not facially violate the procedural due process rights of putative fathers.

          OPINION

          HOOTEN, JUDGE

         Appellant challenges the dismissal of his paternity action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. He argues that Minn. Stat. § 259.52, subd. 8 (2018), does not bar his paternity action or, in the alternative, that it is unconstitutional. We affirm.

         FACTS

         Appellant T.G.G. had a sexual relationship with H.E.S. (mother) in March 2017. Mother told him that she was on birth control at the time. The two ended their relationship shortly thereafter, and mother began seeing someone else. Mother then learned that she was pregnant. She gave birth to the child who is the subject of these proceedings on January 12, 2018. Two days later, the child was placed with two prospective adoptive parents (respondents) through Bethany Christian Services (the adoption service).

         Appellant alleges the following facts in his paternity petition or complaint. Although he knew that mother was pregnant, he did not know he was the father of the child because they had ended their relationship and mother was dating someone else. After the birth of the child, appellant requested a paternity test. In February, mother agreed and a specimen was collected from the child on or about February 22. A report dated March 5 showed a 99.9999% probability that appellant was the child's biological father. Appellant requested that mother allow him to raise the child and stop the adoption process, but she refused. On March 21, mother did, however, sign a Voluntary Recognition of Parentage (ROP), recognizing appellant as the child's biological father, which was then filed with the Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Vital Records. And that same day, which was 68 days after the child was born, appellant registered with the Minnesota Fathers' Adoption Registry.

         On March 23, 2018, appellant filed a paternity action in Isanti County seeking to be adjudicated the father of the child. At the same time that he filed his paternity action, appellant also filed his affidavit and motion for injunctive relief prohibiting the adoption of the child pending his paternity action. On March 26, without the presence of any party, the district court granted a temporary restraining order and then scheduled a hearing for April 23.[1] On March 28, mother signed a ROP revocation form, which was processed on March 29. On the same day that the ROP revocation form was processed, mother was served with a notice of filing, the temporary restraining order, and a notice of hearing.

         On April 16, appellant moved for summary judgment in his paternity action. Respondents then started a separate proceeding in Ramsey County by filing a petition to adopt the child on April 19. And that same day, they filed motions to intervene as a matter of right in appellant's paternity action and to dismiss that action under Minn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(e) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The district court granted respondents' motions. This appeal follows.

         ISSUES

         I. Does appellant qualify for an exception to Minn. Stat. § 259.52, subd. 8?

         II. Does Minn. Stat. § 259.52, subd. 8, bar appellant's paternity action?

         III. Is Minn. Stat. § 259.52, subd. 8, unconstitutional?

         ANALYSIS

         Appellant challenges the district court's dismissal of his paternity action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Minn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(e). In appeals from such a dismissal, we review the legal sufficiency of the dismissed claim de novo. Bahr v. Capella Univ., 788 N.W.2d 76, 80 (Minn. 2010). In doing so, we "consider only the facts alleged in the complaint, accepting those facts as true and must construe all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party." Id. (quotation omitted).[2]

         The central issue in this case is how appellant's failure to register with the fathers' adoption registry within 30 days of the child's birth affects his paternity action. To resolve this question, the district court, respondents, and appellant all ...


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