City of Oronoco v. Fitzpatrick Real Estate, LLC

869 N.W.2d 332 (2015)

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City of Oronoco v. Fitzpatrick Real Estate, LLC

Minnesota Court of Appeals
869 N.W.2d 332 (2015)

Facts

In 2008, Whitney National Bank of New Orleans (Whitney) (defendant) obtained a Florida court’s judgment award against Fitzpatrick Real Estate, LLC (Fitzpatrick). In 2010, Fitzpatrick retained O’Brien & Wolf, L.L.P. (O’Brien) (plaintiff) to defend Fitzpatrick against a lawsuit brought by the City of Oronoco, Minnesota. As the result of O’Brien’s representation, Fitzpatrick won a judgment award against Oronoco. The judgment entitled O’Brien to assert a cause-of-action attorney’s lien as well as a judgment lien against Fitzpatrick’s award. Whitney garnished Fitzpatrick’s award in June 2014. O’Brien subsequently notified Whitney of O’Brien’s own liens against Fitzpatrick’s award and filed a financing statement recording those liens. Next, O’Brien sued for a determination of the relative priority of the competing liens. Based on its analysis of Minnesota’s attorney’s-lien statute, the trial court determined that, as against a third party such as Whitney, O’Brien’s liens attached only when Whitney received O’Brien’s notification and that the liens were not perfected until O’Brien filed its financing statement. The trial court ruled that Whitney’s prior garnishment lien was entitled to priority. O’Brien appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rodenberg, J.)

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