553 N.W.2d 200 (N.D. 1996), 950354, Grinaker v. Grinaker

Docket Nº:Civil No. 950354.
Citation:553 N.W.2d 200
Opinion Judge:VANDE WALLE
Party Name:Debra GRINAKER, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. Gary GRINAKER, Defendant and Appellant, and The Photo Express, Inc., Defendant, and Lucia Stellick, Receiver and Appellee.
Attorney:Deborah J. Carpenter, of Carpenter Offices, Bismarck, for plaintiff and appellee., Gary Grinaker, Bismarck, Pro se., Malcolm H. Brown, Bismarck, for receiver and appellee.
Judge Panel:SANDSTROM, NEUMANN, MESCHKE and MARING, JJ., concur.
Case Date:September 03, 1996
Court:Supreme Court of North Dakota
 
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Page 200

553 N.W.2d 200 (N.D. 1996)

Debra GRINAKER, Plaintiff and Appellee,

v.

Gary GRINAKER, Defendant and Appellant,

and

The Photo Express, Inc., Defendant,

and

Lucia Stellick, Receiver and Appellee.

Civil No. 950354.

Supreme Court of North Dakota.

September 3, 1996

Rehearing Denied Oct. 1, 1996.

Page 201

Deborah J. Carpenter, of Carpenter Offices, Bismarck, for plaintiff and appellee.

Gary Grinaker, Bismarck, Pro se.

Malcolm H. Brown, Bismarck, for receiver and appellee.

VANDE WALLE, Chief Justice.

Gary Grinaker appealed from orders appointing a receiver, staying a corporate meeting, authorizing the sale of corporate assets, and approving the receiver's fees and final accounting. We affirm.

Gary and Debra Grinaker, husband and wife, each owned fifty percent of the stock of The Photo Express, Inc. [Photo Express], a photo finishing lab and portrait studio. Gary and Debra both worked full-time in the business.

The couple experienced marital difficulties which began affecting the business. Debra filed for divorce in 1993. Each party claims the other altered the computerized business records of Photo Express to gain an advantage in the divorce. Gary also changed the locks to Photo Express, resulting in Debra on one occasion being locked in the business after hours. Gary also restricted Debra's access to the business and its records, and threatened he would "throw [her] ass in jail" if she entered Photo Express without his permission.

During the pendency of the divorce action, Gary claimed he owned more than fifty percent of the stock of Photo Express and attempted to take control of the company. Gary acknowledged he intended to replace Debra's parents on the board of directors at the annual shareholders' meeting in December 1993. Debra brought this action against Gary and Photo Express seeking an emergency stay of the annual meeting and injunctive relief. The district court stayed the annual meeting and scheduled a hearing. Debra subsequently requested the court to appoint a receiver to preserve the assets of Photo Express while the divorce action was pending.

The district court found Gary's conduct was "reprehensible and clearly 'smacks' of attempted harassment and maneuvering to gain legal advantage in the divorce action." Deeming "the preservation of the assets to be of greatest significance and urgency," the court concluded the appointment of a receiver for Photo Express was appropriate. On October 7, 1994, Lucia Stellick, a certified public accountant, was appointed receiver of Photo Express with authority to run the business on a day-to-day basis. Although Gary was allowed to remain as an employee of Photo Express at the same salary he had earned previously, he quit when Stellick took over as receiver.

On June 15, 1995, the court ordered the assets of Photo Express returned to Gary and terminated the receivership. Gary ultimately was awarded all of the stock in Photo Express in the divorce action. 1 On August 29, 1995, the court entered its order approving the receiver's final accounting and ordering payment of fees and expenses in the total amount of $39,494.47. Gary appealed.

Gary asserts the trial court abused its discretion in ordering appointment of a receiver. The...

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