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Dunlap v. Nielsen

United States District Court, D. Kansas

March 30, 2018

ALEXANDER W. DUNLAP, Plaintiff,
v.
KARIN NIELSEN, ET AL., Defendants.

          FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

          JULIE A. ROBINSON CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Alexander W. Dunlap filed this breach of contract and promissory estoppel action, alleging Defendants Karin Nielsen, the Estate of Tyghe Nielsen (the “Estate”), and Nielsen Capital Finance, LLC (“NCF”) refused to pay amounts due on two promissory notes signed by Tyghe and Karin Nielsen, in their individual capacities, and/or as members of NCF.[1]After this Court granted Defendants summary judgment on Plaintiff's promissory estoppel claim, the parties tried the breach of contract claims to the Court on March 28, 2018.

         At the close of Plaintiff's presentation of evidence, Defendants orally moved for judgment on behalf of Karin because there was no evidence that she was a party to any contract with Plaintiff. The Court declined to render any judgment until the close of the evidence pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(c) and took the motion for judgment under advisement. The Court also took Defendants' objections to Plaintiff's exhibits 1-14, 26, and 36-41 under advisement. After considering the arguments, evidence, and testimony presented by the parties, the Court now issues its findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a). For the reasons explained in detail below, the Court overrules Defendants' objections to Plaintiff's exhibits and grants judgment in favor of Defendants.

         I. Findings of Fact

         This Court previously set forth a detailed statement of uncontroverted facts in ruling on Defendants' motion for summary judgment.[2] The Court incorporates the stipulations set forth in the Pretrial Order and in the Summary Judgment Memorandum and Order (“SJO”) to the extent they are relevant and are not explicitly recited herein.

         Tyghe and Karin Nielsen were married for over nine years preceding his death. Around 2009, Tyghe was diagnosed with cancer. By 2012, Tyghe was unable to work at his occupation as a physician. Around September 17, 2013, Tyghe formed NCF, with him as its sole member.

         Tyghe and Plaintiff were former colleagues at a hospital in Jonesboro, Arkansas. They became friends after working together for several years. They maintained their friendship even after Tyghe moved to Kansas in 2010.

         On or about October 28, 2014, Plaintiff Alex Dunlap loaned $150, 000 to NCF. On or about November 27, 2014, Plaintiff made a $50, 000 loan to NCF. Both loans were memorialized with documents that contained two signatures, one was Tyghe's and the other purported to be Karin's.

         Tyghe died on December 3, 2015. On May 24, 2016, Dustin Wiemers, one of Tyghe's creditors, filed a Petition for Appointment of Special Administrator for the Estate of Tyghe Nielsen in the District Court of Miami County, Kansas, Probate Section under case number 2016-PR-000046 (the “Probate Case”). Weimers published a Notice to Creditors of the May 24, 2016 Petition in the Kansas City Star beginning June 2, 2016 and ending June 16, 2016, and in the Miami County Republic beginning June 8, 2016 and ending June 22, 2016.

         On June 3, 2016, Karin recorded the Last Will and Testament of Tyghe Lindberg Nielsen (“Tyghe's Will”) in the Probate Case. On July 14, 2016, the Probate Court admitted Tyghe's Will and appointed Karin as substitute Executor. Tyghe's Will expressly states that it “shall not extend the statute of limitations for payments of debts, or enlarge upon my legal obligation or any statutory duty to pay debts.”[3]

         II. Analysis and Conclusions of Law

         The Court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The Court also has personal jurisdiction over the parties, and venue properly rests with this Court.

         A. Objections to Exhibits

         At trial, Defendants objected to Plaintiffs exhibits 1-14, 26, and 36-41 based on relevancy and the Court's in limine ruling to exclude evidence of offers of compromise or settlement pursuant to Fed.R.Evid. 408. The Court sustains the objections to the extent these exhibits were offered to establish liability based on any settlement proposals. The Court overrules the relevancy objections and will ...


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